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INBOX Ideas - Previous Revision

Connecting to Reading Done over Winter Break
booksWhile summer is a favorite reading time for many people, I tend to read more over winter break than I do in the summer. The cold weather where I live makes it a perfect time to curl up with a good book -- or two, or three. Both of my daughters got a number of books as holiday gifts and you can often find us each in our own nook, reading.

NCTE member Donalyn Miller blogged about how to keep students reading over winter break. NCTE member Katherine Sokolowski also blogged about "Top Ten Ways to Encourage Children to Read over Winter Break." How can we continue the momentum of this reading once students return to the classroom for the new semester? These resources from NCTE and offer ideas for getting started.

First and foremost, remember "Readers Just Want to Have Fun!" This short article from Voices from the Middle asks, "When was the last time you finished a book and thought, 'Gosh, I can't wait to take a test on this!' or 'This book would sure be great to write an essay on!'" Focus on fun by emphasizing sharing and discussion in response to reading. This lesson from describes how small groups of students can plan meetings to discuss what they've read in a "just for fun" book club they've organized -- and that they control.

"Out of the Shadow of SSR: Real Teachers' Classroom Independent Reading Practices" from Language Arts identifies how eight highly effective teachers think about and use independent reading, and illuminates important differences between SSR and their independent reading practices. "Supporting Students as They Read Independently" from includes basic theory and practice for supporting students reading independently, which is the last instructional goal of the gradual release of responsibility.

Involve families and students' extended circle of friends in the conversation about reading. The School Talk issue "Creating Readers: Talking about Books in Multilingual Classrooms" includes some great suggestions and stories. Take this idea a step further with the lesson "My Family Traditions: A Class Book and a Potluck Lunch."

"Fifty Alternatives to the Book Report," from English Journal, offers ways to engage students in talking, thinking, and writing about books they read over a school break, or any time. Check out these Book Report Alternatives from

Tap students' desires to doodle and draw by having them create a Graffiti Wall, using graphics to discuss a piece of literature that has been read by the whole class.

How do you connect to the reading your students complete over break?

-- Lisa Fink, ReadWriteThink


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