I was recently asked if I could give a 2-minute answer to which reading program would be best for a district. While I was flummoxed at first; 2 minutes, that’s not enough time to discuss the needed components?! I quickly realized that I really don’t need even two minutes to answer this question, because here’s the thing…
If a program does not leave time for independent reading every day – don’t buy it.
If a program does not leave space for students to self-select their books independent of their level or Lexile at any time – don’t buy it.
If a program does not leave room for teacher’s to adapt it to the needs of their students – don’t buy it.
If a program tells you that students should sit in front of a computer every single day to be successful – don’t buy it.
If a program is based on short segments of texts, filled with lots and lots of things to do, with no room to build stamina or to go beyond the obvious in their answers – don’t buy it.
If a program dictates that every single teacher must follow every single lesson with fidelity or their students will not be successful – don’t buy it.
So what should we look for instead?
A program that supports choice, independent reading time, small group, one on one conferring, as well as lessons for ideas.
A program that focuses on the needs of the individual as much as the needs of the group.
A program that leaves teachers and students alike thinking that reading and being a reader is something good.
A program that builds hope for all readers to be readers. That balances out between reading for skill and reading for pleasure. A program with an emphasis on developing reader identity as well as reader skill. A program that doesn’t kill the love of reading but instead bolsters it.
That is the program you should buy. And then don’t ever forget that fidelity should always remain to the students and not to the program itself to quote my Assistant Superintendent, Leslie Bergstrom.
And if you are not sure if that is the program you have; ask the very students who are forced to endure it. Ask the teachers who have to implement it. Ask the caregivers and parents who hear the stories. They will always tell you the answer if you are ready to hear it.
If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child, out August 2017. This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block. If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.