Update to this study as of June 2012 for 9th grade can be found on this blog post
Wamogo High School Reading Survey Results March 2011
This was the most striking portion of the survey with well over 65% of students in each grade level claiming success in SSR (silent sustained reading). The most consistent rating across all grade levels was the percentage of students who “pretend to read” which was 6% or lower in Grades 7-10. This means that less than 10% of students do not participate in the SSR activity when offered in the classroom.
|I can get right “into the book” or read the materials successfully||38%||59%||55%||54%||33%|
|I have difficulty getting started, but I can read successfully after that||38%||31%||37%||22%||32%|
|I am distracted by others and cannot read in a classroom successfully||16%||4%||3%||19%||29%|
|I pretend to read||8%||6%||5%||5%||6%|
The percentages reflected in the chart above accurately reflect the anecdotal evidence (see below) provided by teachers at each grade level. There is a steady increase in the number of students who are “distracted by others” from 4% in Grade 7 to 29% in Grade 10. The Wamogo English Department has been steadily increasing the amount of SSR for grades 9 and 10 during the 2010-2011 school year. These percentages indicate that a little over 2/3rds of the students in these classes benefit from SSR. This data does not reflect the length of time spent in SSR in the classroom; cross-referencing the data for time-spent reading in class provides an more accurate picture. Grade 7’s data with the least amount of time spent with in class reading records 4% of student claiming they are distracted and cannot read successfully. Comparing this percentage to Grade 8’s data with the most amount of in class reading time and only 3% of students claiming they are distracted and cannot read successfully indicates that the length of time is not a factor in student success in SSR activities. Consideration as to how to improve the classroom reading environment to minimize the “distractions” for students in Grades 9 and 10 should be the next step in making SSR an effective tool to improve reading.
Anecdotal Evidence- Grade 10
Reaction to the Tenth Grade Reading Survey
The results from the tenth grade reading survey track fairly well with what I have observed in class, especially in terms of reading fiction. During the past year, I have seen students struggle with reading assignments outside of class, if they were not engaged in the text. When given choices of reading material, however, the students beg me to give them reading time in class. We are currently working on an independent World Literature unit in all tenth grade classes. There were many books for the students to choose from; everyone was content with their choice by the third day of the unit. They were given large page amounts to read in the first two weeks – there were no quizzes to check on whether or not they were reading, but honestly, I didn’t need them – with the exception of two or three students, it was very clear how engaged they were with their books.
Another interesting aspect of the survey was the high interest in non-fiction, or informational reading in tenth grade. There are many students, boys in particular, who gravitate towards this type of material. This was also proven in their choice of summer reading last year – a high percentage of students chose the non-fiction option books. I feel strongly that we should continue to offer this type of reading in all classes, not just English.
Anecdotal Evidence-Grade 9
Comments on Reading Survey Results – 9th Grade
Overall, the results tally with my in-class experiences. Most students will get into and enjoy the right book. Some have trouble settling down or finding the right book. A few just will not engage.
I was surprised at students’ perception of required reading time in English, 63% responding that they have over 30 minutes assigned (p.6). Even though the honors students may have more assigned pages, the majority of students in 9th grade should not have to spend more than 20 -30 minutes on any given reading assignment per night. I wonder if they are they including catch-up or procrastinated reading. Or, are they taking frequent breaks, allowing several distractions during their reading? While I have noted that several students who consider themselves solid readers are quite slow, taking upwards of 2 minutes per page, most read at a respectable rate when focused.
The difficulties with students reading in the classroom environment are not surprising. Social pressures and distractions abound. If there is one student looking to distract others in order to avoid reading, the ripple effect is impressive. They are easily distracted by others, and cheek by jowl seating does not help. The ability to tune out others is not well-developed at this age. This is why the majority of responders noted they were most successful reading in their own rooms (but remember my question about assigned reading – are they equating comfort with success?). On the bright side, almost half of the 9th graders noted that they could get right into their reading in the classroom, and another quarter that once started, they can settle down to it. While we did not ask directly, I suspect that the 18% of 9th graders who labeled themselves as reluctant or non-readers make up the majority of the quarter who has trouble reading in class. It would be interesting to know if, as reluctant readers, they select material for length rather than interest, thereby confirming their experience of reading as boring chore rather than enjoyable and stimulating.
Reading strategies for fiction seem on target for pleasure reading. Predicting, connecting, and summarizing are what stronger readers do at this stage. However, sticky notes and underlining are great techniques for readers starting to deconstruct and analyze text. I want to develop this sort of independent learning and thinking more, move students away from the teacher’s constant guidance and reassurance.
The non-fiction reading strategies are off, in my mind. Reading informative texts requires a much more active approach. I worry that students approach both fiction and non-fiction with the same set of tools. In class, we must help students recognize that they have a variety of tools for a variety of purposes.
Anecdotal Evidence- Grade 8