Over the last three weeks students in my Spanish I classes have been reading self-selected novellas a couple of days a week in class. They chose the books themselves and self-differentiated based on their reading ability and interests. Even though students self-select reading material in my class all of the time, enforcing the idea of choosing something based on comprehensibility and interest is a continual challenge because the idea of reading what you want seems odd for students in school. To support the idea of “comprehensible and interesting” I almost daily highlight the poster I made and posted above the classroom library the back of the room:
“You all have different interests and abilities, so you should be reading different books.”
The assignment was to read a novel of 6,000 or more words. They could also read two or three shorter novels totaling 6,000 words. The 6,000 word level was based on the length of Pobre Ana, which they had already read as a class. The volume of words idea being based on comments by Beniko Mason about studies of ELL’s in Japan whose English acquisition level was reliably predicted by the number of words they had read—although at this point my US high school level I students are reading far less than her Japanese students. The only criteria for choosing a novel were that the books be interesting and compressible. Students also wrote an occasional DUAL ENTRY JOURNAL (summary of page on one side and their reactions, comments or questions on the other side) to demonstrate that they understood what they were reading.
Almost all of them were proud of their ability and could see how they had grown since the last time we had done this. Here […]