The Missouri Reader WINTER ISSUE Vol. 44, Issue 1 - Page 30

30

Resourceful Research

Resourceful Research

by

William Kerns and Amanda McCaleb

Harry

Students camping out in the classroom library, students rummaging through book boxes to switch out books every two minutes, even students just sitting and staring off into space. These were some of the typical views in my third grade classroom during independent reading time at the beginning of the year. Students dreaded the time and were not excited about reading. During individual reading conferences, I noticed several concerning tendencies among my students. Students struggled to discuss literature, but if prompted could have an in depth discussion about Minecraft. Students could not name a favorite book or author, but could spout off ten of the most popular YouTube stars. Their reading stamina was low, and it was overly apparent that students simply were not enjoying reading. I knew students were not reading at home either, as it has become the norm to spend all of their free time playing video games and watching online videos. I began to feel as though they were growing up in a world so immersed in technology, reading was completely obsolete in their minds. Independent reading is such a crucial time for students to develop the reading skills necessary in day to day life, and my students were missing out. As stated by Rasinski and Padak (2011), “students’ independent reading was associated with growth in word recognition, vocabulary, fluency, language syntax, comprehension, and motivation for reading” (p. 553). I knew I had to do something to get students more invested in what they were reading. I needed something to really engage them, to create excitement around reading.

Aware that it was time to “up” the reading game in my room, I began brainstorming. My solution finally came from the very thing I had originally viewed as the problem. In a “get-to-know-you” activity we did the first week of school I interviewed students about themselves with one of the questions being, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” An overwhelming number of students answered that they would like to become “YouTubers” when they grow up. These dreams of creating video blogs (vlogs) and love for technology gave me the perfect idea to engage students in literacy. Many students spend hours online listening to vloggers speak about all kinds of topics, from makeup, to video games, to movies, to famous people. Why not have my students become vloggers themselves, speaking about books? Make learning relevant to the student, right? And so it was born, the idea of creating our own class YouTube channel, and having students do vlog style book talks.

The concept is simple. Students read a book of their choice and then write a complete book talk about it, including a summary, outline of story elements, and a review. After students have written their script, they record themselves giving the book talk using Chromebooks (or any device with video recording ability) in a vlog format. The process gives students the opportunity to practice several important literacy skills at once. They are first and foremost reading, as the first step is to pick and read a quality piece of literature. They are identifying story elements, which demonstrates comprehension. Students are writing to inform and persuade a specific audience when they write out the script. Students are also working on a sometimes forgotten but incredibly important component of literacy: oral communication. Students must be comfortable speaking about their book in front of the camera, which I have found to be even more nerve wracking than an audience. We then take time to watch all of the videos as a whole class. The idea of a book talk is actually a very traditional assignment, but passionate about, they become very motivated to do the assignment.

Upon hearing about the assignment, students were excited to get started. I was blown away with the effort students put into this project and what pride they took in their work. Students were noticeably more engaged during independent reading, knowing they would get to share about their book on their vlog.

.

Book Talk Vlogs Bring Passion to Reading

by

Madeline Saville

Conducting a Writing Workshop

Increased time to write with a focus on the strategies of pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing are linked to increased writing quality (Graham & Harris, 2016). Unfortunately, students tend to demonstrate a decrease in enthusiasm for writing from early childhood to middle school and high school, due to less time to write and less engaging writing opportunities (Graham & Perin, 2007) so it is imperative to engage students in workshops that are personally and culturally meaningful. We recommend that it should be evident that multicultural literature is being read, enjoyed and analyzed across the curriculum. Writing workshops provide opportunities for lively inquiry and discussion about texts with diverse characters, settings, and cultures (Alexander, 2018).

Conversations

Harry