Silence a Key to Successful Reading
Growing Independence and Fluency
Laura Meadors

Rationale:  One of the keys to independent reading and fluency is silent reading.  It is important for children to choose their own book to read, as well as learn to read the book to themselves.  By doing this, children will not only read more voluntarily, but they will also gain comprehension skills.  If children are allowed to choose their own material to read then they will see reading as fun, instead of something they are forced to do. This will influence children to take the initiative to sit down and read a book silently to themselves more often.

Materials:  A variety of children’s books, a pleasure book for the teacher, a big book such as Cinderella, a stopwatch, pencils, primary paper and an assessment checklist.

1) Introducing the lesson:  Hello everybody, today we are going to do something a little different than we have done in the past, but it will also be very fun.  We are going to learn how to read silently to ourselves.  By practicing this often, you will all become better readers!  When you read to yourself, you can focus more on understanding what you read, rather than worry about what you sound like to other people, which can sometimes keep you from enjoying and remembering what you read.”
2) The teacher and students will be taking a walking trip to the school’s library where there are hundreds of children’s books on various reading and interest levels.  As you can see, there are many interesting books right here that all of you would really enjoy reading.  Before we start, I am going to let each of you choose, for yourself, the book you would like to read silently today.  As you’re choosing your book, remember to choose ones that seem interesting to you because of the title and subject of the book, not just because of the pictures.  Remember to use the two finger rule...if you read the first page and miss more than two words then the book is too hard for your reading level.  Once each child has done this, they will bring their book to the teacher so the teacher can check to make sure the book they chose isn’t too hard or too easy for their level of reading.  Many times the books will be color coded by dots so the children know what color dot to look for when choosing their book.
3) Now that all the children are done choosing and have had their books checked, the children will gather at a table in the library to listen to the teacher. The teacher will explain that she will model silent reading from a big book so every child can see exactly what she is doing when she reads silently to herself.  For a while now we have been working on reading aloud and whisper reading.  Well today, instead of reading so that everyone can hear, we are going to work on silent reading.  Does anyone know what I mean when I say ‘silent reading’?  Well, it’s almost like reading in a whisper, but instead of whispering when you read, you will just move your mouth with no sounds coming out.  I have chosen this big book to read a few pages out of so you can see just what I mean when I say read silently.  The teacher will first model whisper reading, then will model silent reading on the same page.  Now that you have all seen me read silently, I want you to look at the page I just read and whisper read it all together.  When you are done, I want you to practice reading that same page, but this time, read it silently by yourself and only move your lips.  Now that you have done that, the final thing I want you to do to practice silent reading is re-read that same page once again but this time read it in your head without whispering or moving your lips.” The teacher will observe the students and use an assessment checklist with sections for loud reading, whisper reading, silent reading, and moving lips.
4) “Great job everybody!! I think you are all ready to practice reading silently on your own with your chosen book!! The teacher will now send the children to find a quiet area in the library where they are spread out from each other.  The teacher will set her stopwatch for 10 minutes.  The children will read silently for 10 minutes while the teacher silently reads a book of her own at her own table for the same amount of time.
5) Now that the ten minutes is up, the teacher will tell the children to close their books and return to the table where the teacher is so they can walk back to their classroom and write about what they read and what they thought about their silent reading time.  The teacher will give the students another 10 minutes to write their message at their own individual desks.  As you are writing your messages, I want you to include things like, what you thought about silent reading, if you liked going to the library for a different atmosphere, if you thought you were good at silent reading, if you thought the teacher did a good job explaining what silent reading was, if you enjoyed being able to pick out your own book and if you think silent reading helped you to understand the story better.  When they are done, the children can volunteer to share their message if they wish, but they don’t have to if they don’t feel comfortable doing it.  The teacher will collect the papers with all the messages and assess them when this activity is completed.
6) Now that the activity is over and the teacher has collected the papers, the teacher will lead the class in a discussion about what the children liked or disliked about silent reading. The teacher will explain to the students why it is important to learn how to read silently and she will ask which students agree with her and which don’t. Then she will ask the students to openly discuss why they feel silent reading is either a useful or un-useful tool.

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