Get Bryce’s book on teaching reading here!
On this page:
- 1. Top Reading Resources
- 2. High Interest Easy Readers – in many languages
- 3. How to Do Sustained Silent Reading – includes samples of Focused Reading Book Reports
- 4. How to Read Aloud to Students
- 5. How to Do Whole Class Reading
1. TOP READING RESOURCES
Memes and Quotes to Encourage Reading Here is a Word format so you can download of some of the best memes and quotes to motivate students to read. Project these during independent reading time to remind and encourage students to just keep reading.
Here is an online link to the Memes and Quotes to Encourage Reading.
MOTIVATIONAL POSTERS to Encourage Reading to Show in Your Virtual or Physical Classroom
HOW TO CHOOSE A BOOK Classroom Poster to help get the idea across to students that reading has to be comprehensible and interesting. This little poster says that 9 ways in kidspeak. Print out this poster and place it prominently above your classroom library, or post it every time you assign independent reading in your virtual classroom to remind students how to pick a book. Free Voluntary Reading is different than most of the reading that they are asked to do in school, so they will need guidance.
SSR Reading Poster to show in your virtual or physical classroom. It clearly describes the expectations during sustained silent reading time. Put one on all four walls of your classroom, if need be!
WHAT IF INDEPENDENT READING ISN’T WORKING?
Sometimes you need a rubric to clearly spell out the expectations of students during independent reading time. When they’re being resistant or ornery, this has worked for me: Independent Reading Rubric.
This rubric is framed in terms of the interpretive mode–the language learning mode which we tend to neglect in favor of asking students to produce the language. Have students fill out this rubric for themselves 3 times or so every 2 weeks —NOT (not, not) every time they read, but often enough to remind them until they get what you are asking them to do. Why? To save you frustration and to connect some kind of measurement to independent reading for your grade, but mostly, to get them to think critically about their own behavior—the highest form of thinking. You can adjust it up or down, as needed, but most students (80%) will have a sane and sober analysis of their reading behavior in your class.
READING FOR MEANING RATHER THAN STRUGGLING TO DECODE Use this example to get the feel of what it’s like to read above your level. It is crucial for both teachers and students to know. World language students are often put in a situation where they are reading far above their ability level. This forces them to focus on the code instead of reading for meaning. We absolutely want students to read authentic materials. They will get there sooner with the scaffolding provided by vocabulary-controlled readers. When students are reading a novel a week on their own they will be able to read authentic materials soon enough. Force them to read only authentic materials right from the start and most will give up.
2. HIGH-INTEREST EASY READERS
• Secure Online Reading in Spanish, French, English & Latin & more languages
Find free reading materials on Storylabs, an online library for language learning. Access their free materials here: https://www.storylabs.online/freebies. The stories on Storylabs have accompanying audio, online and printable activities, as well as usage tracking so teachers can hold their students accountable. The text of these stories cannot be copied, pasted or downloaded, so as to prevent students from copying and pasting into a translator. They carry novels in Spanish, English, French and Latin.
Log in at storylabs.app (case sensitive, use lower case); class code: student; password: demo. Students can read and listen to native speakers reading the books aloud. There are also games and activities for each reading. Their publishing system is free, and when users create content they can share it with colleagues, or even sell it.
Reed Riggs, Ph.D.: See his online store, which includes short stories, graphic novels and sci-fi novels in Chinese here and here.
Terry Waltz, PhD has many cute Chinese easy readers
For wider selections, I highly recommend Mandarin Companion, Chinese Breeze, Haiyun’s books, and Terry’s books.
Japanese teacher Betsy Paskvan, PhD, on Graded Level Readers in Japanese:
ASK Publishing. There are 5 levels and many readers, 4-6 per level
Cheng and Tsui is another company
Lance Piantaggini / Magister P has written scores of books for Latin students. Some of his books have unique word counts as low as 20 (!?).
Latin books for higher levels compiled by Magister P.
Andrew Olimpi / Comprehensible Classics has a growing selection of simplified Latin readers.
Rachel Beth Cunning, at Bombax Press, is a marvelous author of vocabulary-controlled Latin books.
Recommendations from Alaska Russian teacher and ACTFL National Teacher of the Year Finalist, Michele Whaley:
Russian is a very difficult language for finding novice to intermediate novels. Here’s a good one:
Утро: A Comprehensible Story for Learners of Russian, by Michele Whaley.
This is a sweet story about a Russian boy who gets a magical matryoshka (set of nesting Russian dolls) for his birthday. It is better for at least a second-year Russian class. Available in Europe at the The CI Bookshop.
Bednaya Anya (Russian equivalent of Pobre Ana) was a good book for late level 2 or 3 to read, but it seems to be out of print with the original publisher. You can find it in Europe here.
“I would stay away from most books of unsimplified fairy tales in Russian, as the vocabulary is very complex in those. There are Russian materials at this site ruskniga.com, but you would have to look very carefully and choose comprehensible titles.”
We sell quality Spanish novels by independent authors on this website. The selection of genres, authors, languages and titles in growing. Check back often to see what’s new and what your students might be attracted to.
3. HOW TO DO SUSTAINED SILENT READING
(Also known as Independent Reading, Free Voluntary Reading, Self-Selected Reading, Free Choice Reading, etc.)
Students can begin to read on their own faster than you might think with these 8 logical steps (A-H):
A. USE HIGH FREQUENCY WORDS
The majority of speech consists of just a few verbs and function words. According to Mark Davies, in A Frequency Dictionary of Spanish (p. vii), 60% of speech uses just 50 high-frequency words. Using (and if necessary, teaching), some of those high frequency words fills students with useful language to get them ready to read. You can teach 20 or more high frequency verbs with classical TPR gesturing within the first 2 weeks of level 1 and get students reading right away.
High Frequency Verbs: IMPORTANT VERBS – These are the verbs language learners need to know. Teach the Essential Verbs, which are high frequency, with classical TPR gestures in the first 2-3 weeks to get students able to read earlier than you might think.
Another Way to Look at High Frequency Verbs: WHAT THE TOP SPANISH VERBS CAN TEACH US – Lists like this can remind us to use more natural language with students. Take a look and see how you can use these words with the intent of purposefully working in more of the most commonly used words, in order to help students understand.
It doesn’t always help, long-term, to use cognates for short-term understanding. I’ve regretably found myself doing this. For example, in the past I often used necesitar (to need, as in “You need to…”) instead of deber (must/should, as in “You should…”) because the cognate necesitar was more recognizable to students. But in A Frequency Dictionary of Spanish, the word deber is a much more common verb (#75) than necesitar (#229). The result was that students, even in level 3, were sometimes not familiar with deber, a useful, high-frequency word, that occurs repeatedly in authentic speech and reading materials. It is often better to overtly teach the most commonly used words rather than to rely on cognates.
Teach Grammar as Vocabulary: THE USUAL SUSPECTS High Frequency Verbs – These are some of the most used verbs in Spanish. Since the most often used verbs tend to be irregular, to novices they will sound like different words. When there is no sound/meaning connection, those conjugations need to be introduced separately— but extensive conjugation charts are not necessary because students will get most of them due to exposure because they are used so often. This chart can be used to check for gaps in students’ learning in upper level classes. It can be useful for students to be consciously aware of the relationships between the various forms of high frequency verbs.
High Frequency Function Words in Spanish: PALABRAS IMPORTANTES Function words are some of the most important vocabulary for novice language learners to know. These are the short, abstract words that carry the grammar of a sentence. I would be hesitant to overtly test students on these for a grade, but they should be familiar with these words. Take a look at this list even if you do not speak Spanish because these words are about the same set in any language.
These words should also be clear in the teacher’s mind to be sure they are being used often, particularly if you are not a native speaker. Non-native teachers tend to speak a kind of interlanguage in class with students. This can create gaps in language usage due to skipping over some high-frequency words that would help students.
Unique Word Count: How Publishers Calculate Word Count The unique word count in a book has a big impact on comprehensibility. It is not the only thing, but it is a factor. this article explains how publishers figure the unique word count of a text.
B. GET A VARIETY OF READING MATERIALS
Students need variety. They have different abilities and interests, so they should be reading different things. This is the impetus behind developing an independent or extensive reading program. Provide plenty of reading materials that are comprehensible, interesting and (when possible) culturally relevant.
For Free Choice Reading/Free Voluntary Reading/Sustained Silent Reading try to get 5 copies of as many different titles as you can–shoot for 30 or more different titles–that way students can read what their friends are reading.
C. HOLD STUDENTS ACCOUNTABLE… LIGHTLY. LIGHTLY!
Lightly hold students accountable for their reading. Check to make sure they understand what they are reading.
Students should read every day, but you should not (not, not) assess their reading every day.
Do not check for comprehension every time they read. Of course you need to put grades in the grade book. Of course you need to hold students accountable, but don’t measure their reading all the time. If you give them a grade every time they read, you will kill the joy of reading… and soon even the enthusiastic readers will be reading only to fill out your reading report form.
When you want to check reading comprehension, occasionally use something like these:
Ping Pong Reading This is a fun back-and-forth review that can be done once in a while. Also called volleyball reading.
READING REFLECTION – This form is short and simple and it is a helpful tool for getting students to enjoy reading — because they get to express themselves. Checking reading comprehension occasionally (once a week) corresponds to the 5 ways of assessing reading explained in Free Voluntary Reading by Stephen Krashen, and in Readicide by Kelly Gallagher. Explaining what a reading meant to you is much more enjoyable than answering detailed questions.
DUAL ENTRY READING JOURNAL Medium level of accountability. This shows you care and are aware, but it doesn’t smother students with too many detailed questions about their reading. DO NOT use this form every time they read or students will be reading only to fill out the form and not reading for meaning like we want them to.
• DUAL ENTRY JOURNAL EXAMPLES
Spanish 1 Dual Entry Reading Journal Example: El Ekeko
Spanish 1 Dual Entry Reading Journal Example: La Chica Nueva
• FOCUSED READING BOOK REPORTS – Free Downloads
These book report forms are from my book Hi-Impact Reading Strategies. There are 14 more Focused Book Report forms in the book, plus many other reading assessments.
FOCUSED BOOK REPORT #3 Minor Character Major Impact
FOCUSED BOOK REPORT #7 Surprise
FOCUSED BOOK REPORT #9 Rate This Book
FOCUSED BOOK REPORT #10 Three Easy Pieces
EXAMPLES of Student Work
Focused Reading Report Spanish 1 Character Change: Brandon Brown
Focused Reading Report Spanish 1 Conflict: La gran aventura de Alejandro
Focused Reading Report Sp 1 Coincidence #1
Focused Reading Report Sp 1 Coincidence #2
See Bryce’s handbook and workshop on teaching reading Hi-Impact Reading Strategies
D. MODEL READING YOURSELF
Most students never see anyone reading for pleasure. You need to model the importance of reading by:
1) Reading with students (whole class reading),
2) Reading to students (reading aloud), and also by
3) Reading in front of students (self-selected pleasure reading).
You are convinced of the value of reading yourself, but you are going to have to use all your persuasive tricks to get students to pick up the habit. Be explicit in demonstrating the value of reading to to your students by reading in front of them. Here are some quick tips on teaching reading to share with your students: Language Acquisition and Reading
E. TEACH THEM HOW TO CHOOSE READING MATERIALS
Some students will just robotically go a grab a book, feeling that they are forced to read lie in the rest of school. You will need to explicitly teach them how to go about choosing a book that they can joyfully read for meaning. Comprehensible and interesting are the words to repeat over and over until they get it.
HOW TO CHOOSE A BOOK-Classroom Poster
F. TEACH THEM HOW TO READ
Comprehensible and Interesting are the words you cannot repeat often enough. In most schools, reading has become little more than a chore to prepare students for high stakes tests. That’s not how to create enthusiastic lifetime readers, and it won’t get students to acquire language joyfully, subconsciously and fluently. When you teach students that they are supposed to be reading something that they can understand and that they enjoy, they will begin to like reading. They will begin to say things like,
“You know what, Señor? I don’t like reading in English,
but for some reason I like to read in Spanish.”
I have heard students say versions of this many times after teaching them to read for meaning and enjoyment, instead of reading because they have to, or because they think they should. Long-term, pleasure reading trumps have-to reading.
Summer Reading This is a list of books my level 3, 4 & 5 students have said they enjoyed reading in Spanish during the summer. It also explains why reading novels is important and includes reading levels for novels to help guide students into picking something comprehensible and interesting to them.
G. MAKE READING A PRIORITY
Make reading a regular part of the routine in your classroom and enforce it consistently. Schedule reading regularly in your lessons plans–and do it at the beginning of the period and not at the end, as if it were some kind of add-on.
SSR Reading Poster Post this prominently on two or three walls of your classroom to remind everyone what Sustained Silent Reading looks like and what you expect. We’re reading here, people!
H. SHOW THEM WHY WE ARE READING
Continually point out why we are reading (like, every single time they read, until they can say it to your first). Because students are not expected to read in other classes, they will be hesitant and maybe even resistant to buy in to reading. Be prepared to head off the constant question of, “Why do we always have to read?”
HOW TO CHOOSE A BOOK Classroom Poster to get the idea of comprehensible and interesting across to students. This little poster says it 9 ways in kid speak. Print out 4 and put one on each wall of your physical classroom, or post it every time you assign independent reading in your virtual classroom.
Print these out, hang them around your classroom and shine your laser pointer at them when the “Why are we reading again?” questions start. they will eventually get to the place where they say, “I don’t really like to read in English, but for some reason I like it in Spanish.”
Reading Quotes w Citations These are quotations you will want to be aware of about why reading is so important for language acquisition and how to read with students. they are from leading thinkers in world language. and also have the sources so you can look them up yourself and quote them with confidence.
4. HOW TO READ ALOUD TO STUDENTS
Reading aloud immerses the listeners in the book. It binds them to you emotionally when you share the experience. It forms connections at a deep level as they hear our voice sharing a story that you are all immersed in. Reading aloud shares love.
FAVORITE SPANISH PICTURE BOOKS These are books my students have enjoyed.
5. HOW TO DO WHOLE CLASS READING
Whole class reading of a novel is efficient. It is the way most teachers begin using language learner literature. But even when all are reading the same text there can be room for differentiation. One way to differentiate with whole class reading is to allow students to read something else if they have already read the class novel. Keep them accountable with dual-entry journals, and require them to take the open-book test on the class novel.
If you are doing whole class reading, consider doing reviews in the form of competitive games like this HARRY POTTER JEOPARDY REVIEW GAME Put only the categories and the question values on the board – the higher the value, the harder the question. Ask the questions aloud in the target language.
• WHOLE CLASS READING ASSESSMENT EXAMPLES
Here are two examples of the final assessment in a Spanish 3 class for the novel Los ojos de Carmen, by Verónica Moscoso. Students could three higher level thinking questions to write about.
Whole Class Reading Assessment Sp 3 Example #1
Whole Class Reading Assessment Sp 3 Example #2
Ping Pong Reading This is an interactive reading review activity after whole class reading that feels like a brain break to kids.
Why Use Materials & Training by Bryce Hedstrom?
Because Bryce’s materials and presentations can train your teachers in techniques that will connect with and engage students! Teachers will be happier and students will learn more! He also offers a variety of workshops to train teachers at all levels and in all subject areas in your department, school, district, or region. Teachers are raving about the results.
Contact Bryce today at:
Phone: 970-290-4228 (talk or text)