Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Reading Rate

Over the past nineteen years, I never asked my students to calculate their reading rate.  Reading  Penny Kittle's Book Love introduced me to the idea...and it has been eye-opening.

It started with a self-selected book just to create a comfort level as we discovered this new thing called "reading rate."  When I taught the formula and walked the students through it, I explained that our rate will change over time depending on the complexity of the writing within the text in addition to our growth as a reader. Monitoring one's reading rate should be a mostly private affair, so I took care to record the rates with their egos in mind.

The formula reads:
  1. Read a text for ten minutes.
  2. Record the number of pages read in those ten minutes,
  3. Multiply that number by six (there are six blocks of ten minutes in an hour).
  4. Double that number. (how far students should get after two hours of reading.
A colleague noted that I could gain the same result by having them multiply their number of pages read by twelve...however, taking them through the deliberate steps helps them understand why they are doing it as well as understanding their number.

Their rates were all over the place. For the first time, I had hard numbers on which to base my reading expectations--in the past, I would estimate based on what I thought. After nineteen years of teaching I have seen a lot of readers and non-readers, so I always felt comfortable estimating based on my expertise and observable behaviors--I always found that acceptable. 

Estimating doesn't seem like such a shrewd idea anymore.

Orchard House - photographybyjenniferbernard
Rethinking and remaking how I approach reading a whole-class novel is a work in progress, and I have been enlightened recently by our reading rates for Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. My students results extend from one extreme to another: a reading rate of 32 (low end) to a reading rate of 372 (high end)--again, that number indicates how many pages a student would read over the span of two hours.

I have some thinking to do as it would take my lowest readers up to 25 weeks to finish Little Women, whereas my best readers could finish it within two weeks--assuming they read for two hours per week.

I realize there are scads of options and methods to explore, but I just wanted to share the reading rate formula I picked up by reading a little Penny Kittle...if only I had monitored my reading rate for Book Love.

No comments:

Post a Comment