Catching a fake reader is NOT easy – You’re a teacher! You’ve got a lot going on all at once! You’re trying to rally your small group, ensure your centers are going as planned, you’re making sure little Johnny isn’t sneaking m&m’s for the 1,000th time. The last thing you’re thinking is, “Is Sarah really reading that book? Or is she just faking it?” You’re probably just glad she’s quiet and not disrupting the class, right? Putting in the effort to identify fake readers from the very beginning of the school year has a massive amount of pay off at the end of the school year…or to be honest….you could change a student’s reading life forever!
“You could change a student’s reading life forever!”
Let me tell you a little secret. When I was in elementary school…I was a faker. D.E.A.R. time was not near and dear to my heart. I would grab the closest book and practice my best acting skills until D.E.A.R. time was finally over.
No one ever helped me select a book. No one ever tried to figure out my interests. No one ever held me truly accountable for my reading. No one *taught* me how to be a reader. (That’s right! I’ve learned that my students have to be taught how to be a reader. It’s not natural for most). So, for me…reading was not fun. I was not impressed with reading,
I really needed someone to #1 realize/call me out for being a “fake reader” (there’s an art to this too! I never want to make my students feel bad or embarrassed…this is fun remember!!) and I needed someone to #2… take action.
Fast forward a few years to when I am a reading teacher. The irony. I know. Here I am with a room full of “readers”—but do they LOVE reading? Were they reading a book in the back seat of their moms car? Were they sneaking a book into the cafeteria to read at lunch? —I quickly discovered that these students were a lot like that younger version of me. They needed to be taught how to be a reader. I was not making reading fun. They weren’t impressed with reading.
I first, had to identify my fakes. Who was fake reading? and the most important question of all (which we will get into –in depth- at a later time): Why are they fake reading?
SO. Here’s what I did. I sat back, relaxed, and observed my readers for a few days at a time! I had some conversations with my students about what they were reading, had them read a page or two with me, and took note of their selections (sometimes I actually walk around and keep a running list of books their reading to hold myself accountable and really know about their choices—and how quickly they move from one book to the other) and their difficulty level. I also observed their choices and if they match up to their interests.
If time allows (I would choose one/two days a week, until this problem was solved) to complete a checklist. Observe your students for about 5 minutes and note their behaviors.
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