I want to take this opportunity to share with you my backstory that led me to create my Read! Coach! Read! (RCR) reading system. I had observed my fourth graders struggling with informational texts, which was one of our grade level standards. Their formative reading assessments also indicated to me that more work needed to be done with that particular skill.
My desire was to create some high interest, low to high reading level nonfiction reading passages for my students.
The thing was I wasn’t quite sure what topics would really excite my students, nor was I sure what genres my kids would gravitate toward.
Quite frankly, I felt bad because the fact that my kids didn’t perform as well on these tests made me feel that I failed them. I thought I should have been able to move the mark for these children. So that got me thinking long and hard about how to proceed.
The problem was I didn’t quite know where to begin. I researched everything I could find on the internet that addressed reading informational text. I had to rethink a whole new strategy for improving my students reading and comprehension of nonfiction text.
Then it had occurred to me to develop another reading inventory that would ask some pointed questions, as to various topics, genres, and other information where I could gather and analyze it all. I had also been making anecdotal notes as to what kinds of books my students were reading in the classroom.
So after developing the reading interest inventory, I presented it to my kids. What I explained to them is that I wanted real honest feedback, as to what types of real-world material they enjoyed reading the most. I have to admit some of the feedback came as a surprise to me. My class gave me some valuable input for my consideration. But there still was a problem.
I still had to deal with the fact how I would make these reading passages truly engaging, to the point where kids couldn’t wait to get their hands on them. Also, I had to develop texts that were appropriate for varying reading levels.
This whole process got very frustrating at times trying to create something from scratch that children would find truly enjoyable and fascinating. Well, I worked on the project for over three months and ended up with a resource of materials centered around “Extreme Sports.” I was bound and determined to perfect this packet of materials, and so excited to introduce these to my class, and colleagues down the hall. I wanted to test out my protocol for delivering my new system of reading.
As a result, within the time period it took me to create this resource, I had developed 15 informational texts, a teacher implementation guide,’ an “I can statement,” student roles, questions and answer keys, and a variety of exit tickets — to validate their learning.
After creating Reach! Coach! Read! I was then able to put in place my reading system finally. It took a couple of class sessions for students to get the hang of the procedures. Frankly, I had noticed a shift in their attitude(a cool thing) toward reading after the very first class session! I attribute that to the accountability piece that was built into RCR. I have to tell you that I witnessed children really getting fired up over these real-world informational reading passages. It was so rewarding to see this whole effort pay off like it did.
In the end this meant I had students that could not wait until the next time I rolled out my reading system. Typically, I would implement RCR an average of three times per week, but never less than two. In conclusion, I felt gratified knowing that what I developed instilled a love of reading, and their reading skills of nonfiction text dramatically improved like I’ve never seen before.