Out of the mouths of babes…

At the end of each year, I ask my students to fill out an anonymous questionnaire about their experience in my class.  I have slightly different versions for 9th grade honors and regular 11th grade classes, but both surveys ask the same essential questions.  I am looking for students to tell me what worked, what didn’t, and what they wish they had seen more of so that I can improve instruction going forward.

What I did not anticipate this semester was the number of students who made mention of Independent Reading on these surveys, and their responses were overwhelmingly positive.  We started this as a pilot program in January 2015, half-way through the academic school year, for a few reasons:

  1. The idea was introduced to us in a session we attended in November 2014 at the Annual NCTE Convention in Washington, DC.
  2. The first semester was almost over and students were coming up on mid-year exams after winter break.
  3. We were able to procure funding for initial class libraries and the books were due to arrive in early February.

Survey questions number 2 and 4 ask the students what they wouldn’t mind doing again and what they wish we had done more of.  This semester, the overwhelming majority of responses looked like this:

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“It was fun and you learn when you read. READ. READ. READ.”
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“Independent reading was fun!…I was able to expand my knowledge and gain a new perspective…”
Student praise
“I enjoyed reading by myself…it was enlightening.”
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“…Now I know that books can actually be good!”
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“As we started reading more, my grade got much better.”
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“I really enjoyed choosing…”
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“I liked reading something that I wanted”
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“The independent reading helped my reading in general and it’s nice to choose what you want.”
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“It was nice to choose what I want”
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“I really loved this. It actually gave me the time to read books I enjoyed.”
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“I enjoyed these projects. They allowed me to be more independent and choose what I wanted…I was actually proud of my projects because I chose to do them.”
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“It gives me the opportunity to read and enjoy something of my choice.”
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“…it was enjoyable to read books that we could relate to…”
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“We still applied English requirements while choosing our own books.”
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“Getting to read during class at the end of the day is relaxing and I really enjoy it.”
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“I liked being able to read a book of our own choice without a specified pace for the whole class.”

If there is anything that I’ve learned while working with teenagers over the last sixteen years, it is that they can be unashamedly and unreservedly honest.  So, there you have it out of the mouths of babes: they love reading.  Bring on the books!

Viva la Reading (R)evolution!

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