Effective Literacy Teaching and Learning for all Students

Unit 2

Research about independent reading

Literacy Home

Read the extract: Students need many opportunities to read, read, read.

Now refer to the document Checklist of research-based experiences to improve students' reading and use this to evaluate some aspects of your personal and/or school's literacy work.

If you value the research and wish to improve your literacy work some of the questions to ask yourself are:

  • How much 'plain reading' does each of my students do each day?
  • How can I increase the plain reading time for my students?
  • How can I further facilitate my struggling readers to read more and ensure that they understand what they are reading?
  • How do I make sure that my classroom library caters for all students' Independent Reading?
  • What other resources do I have for Independent Reading?
  • Where could I obtain more resources in the school and out of the school?
  • How can my students assist with all of these?

Working with a colleague, perhaps a literacy coordinator, work through these questions and the practices referred to in the checklist and note some ideas that you could implement to improve Independent Reading for your students. You might conduct a brainstorming session at a grade level, KLA or Faculty meeting where you could all benefit from the ideas generated.

For example, ways to collect resources for classroom libraries:

  • bulk borrow from the school library or a public library;
  • ask for donations from parents and other community members;
  • take some books from other collections in the school (e.g. some resource rooms have an overabundance of books set aside for Guided Reading so some sets could be broken up, especially if there are more than necessary at particular levels);
  • make use of online resources, both fiction and factual.

Read the document: Statements from Research about the Importance of Independent Reading. Consider the implications for classroom practice and whether your students have sufficient time and resources for Independent Reading.

Reflect on any changes you may need to make to your teaching and consider the importance of whole school policies about issues related to Independent Reading.

If you have been spending too much time on test practice rather than Independent Reading you need to be aware of the research stated regarding this issue. More information about this research is provided in Unit 6: Best Practices in Literacy Teaching: the Basis of Best Preparation for Standardised Assessment.

The basis for Best Practices in Literacy, was initially written to offer guidance to schools where the influence of standardised test results could have caused the curriculum to have been skewed towards tasks that focused on test practice. The implications of the cited research and actions need to be considered by both school leadership teams and classroom teachers in order to achieve the best literacy results, even in standardised tests.

Throughout this course you will find more information about the actions suggested, particularly in relation to the suggestions about Independent Reading and comprehension.

For further information about research about Independent Reading refer to the articles: The effects of Independent Reading on Reading Achievement

This will also allow you to link to information about 'Out-of-School Independent Reading', 'In-school Independent Reading' and 'Motivating Students'.

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Effective Literacy Teaching and Learning for all Students