Welcome to implementing individual reading in the classroom. This unit defines what individual reading is, the benefits are making time for it in the daily programme, as well as when and how to implement it. Reading is a skill that needs to be practised consistently to be improved and individual reading, much like group and paired reading, provides this opportunity.
Individual reading consists of learners reading separate books independently. This could be while the teacher has a small reading group, during designated reading periods or when the learner has completed all activities early. The teacher during individual reading is responsible for monitoring behaviour and focus on the task, as well as observes the reading and provides opportunities for individual reading as well as provides reading materials.
Individual reading is not just merely a time filler when there are no other activities to do; it provides a range of learning opportunities, such as
The teacher needs to establish a routine for individual reading; do learners read their class reader? Their own book? A library book? A book from the shelf? He or she needs to model to the learners how to take out and put away books correctly and how to do so in a manner that is respectful to their peers and the books. If they all run to the bookshelf trying to get the book they want, this may cause conflict- encourage learners to visit libraries as well. Learners need to know when individual reading is appropriate as well – have they finished all their activities? Do they have any unfinished work that can be completed instead? Is the teacher still busy with reading groups? The teacher must also manage the class by monitoring the noise levels, reminding learners of the rules during reading periods- talk quietly, raise a hand if you need help, no sharing of books etc. As well as manage time; remember that most young learners can not sit still and quietly for a long period of time so try plan the individual reading sessions so that they do not become long, tedious, boring and make reading unenjoyable. Make sure that the opportunities you provide for individual reading are meaningful- perhaps ask to go around to individual readers and ask them about what they are reading; allow them to retell the story to you in their own words and do not correct them but guide them if they are off track, having a variety of reading materials readily available for learners to choose from is very important; have different types of stories, factual books, rhyming books, magazines and so on to give the learners a diverse choice.
Individual reading does not only have to be exclusive to learners who can read formerly! Individual reading in young learners can be in the form of them looking at pictures and finding meaning from them, you can ask them what the story is about from what they see in the pictures, the can look for similar letter and letter blends in simple sentences, or even try to find words which they think rhyme. It is a good idea to also provide young learners with familiar stories to help them link pictures and text together.
Once all learners have a sound knowledge of phonetics and a basic ability to read, teachers can implement sustained silent reading. This is a period, of only about 10-15 minutes, where the whole class all reads their own book silently. Young learners who still need to sound out words to read them can do so quietly. The teacher should model reading and foster the importance and appreciation of literature by also reading their own book during this time, but still monitoring learners who need help. The books should be of the learners own choosing.
Another time where individual reading is often implemented is during group reading. During group reading, it is essential for the rest of the class to stay busy so that they do not disrupt the teacher and group who are busy. The teacher will assign activities for learners to complete, but once finished learners should stay busy by reading individually so that they do not disturb anyone else. Once again, learners are given the opportunity to choose their own book and are not instructed, guided or assisted by the teacher. This is independent reading.
When choosing books to have on display for learners to choose, ensure that they are appropriate- there must be books to cater for all reading ability levels and are age-appropriate; try changing the books on display frequently to avoid learners becoming bored and disinterested. Also ensure that there is a diverse range of books that learners can choose from that will interest them, give them a choice and encourage them to choose books which may challenge them.
Although individual reading appears to be a passive activity, it still needs to be meaningful and allow learners to grow their reading abilities. The main component of individual reading is to enjoy; this makes learning more meaningful and is the reason why learners must be able to choose their own books – the reading environment, to be enjoyable also needs to be peaceful hence the “No talking and no sharing” rule is applicable. If you wish, you may play some peaceful relaxing music or take learners outside to read. Encourage learners to engage with what they are reading; encourage them to make predictions and reflect on what they have read. After a period of sustained silent reading, give learners the opportunity to talk about what they have read individually- they can discuss it in groups, pairs, to the teacher or, if they want to, in front of the entire class.