Do your students do any kind of free reading or sustained silent reading (SSR) in your world language classroom?
In my classes my students spend 5-10 minutes (depending on their level and amount they enjoy the activity) twice per week reading books and magazines of their choice. I do not tell them what to read, I only insist that it be in Spanish. I do not quiz them or assess them in any way. I simply require them to have reading material open in front of them during the reading period.
Most students actually enjoy this! Give it a try!
What about accountability?
We need to stop trying to hold everyone accountable for everything. (This could be a whole blog in itself!) Have a little faith that there exists printed material in the target language that is interesting enough to hold a teenager’s attention for at least 5 minutes. I like to point out to my students that this should be the easiest and most relaxing/enjoyable part of their day at school. Most would agree.
Sometimes I switch it up and instead of SSR we do book sharing. Students select a partner and they look at books together. They really like this and believe it or not, they stay on task pretty well.
On a related note, stop worrying about making kids read books appropriate for their lexile score or reading level. Stop putting color-coded stickers on books and telling the level 1 kids they should only read the books with the yellow sticker. I tell kids to look for books that interest them. I tell kids to grab a whole armful of books so they can cast one aside if it is not interesting to them. I tell them that if they love Twilight in English and they want to look at Twilight in Spanish to go right ahead even if it is three inches thick and they are in week three of level 1!
How to get books
How do you get the reading materials? I started out with a grant from the NEA of $2000. Each year I add a few more items to my library. I purchased many of my books through Scholastic’s Club Leo. I also purchased many from Mary Sosnowski since I see her at just about every conference I attend during the year!
I also purchase magazines whenever I am in a Spanish-speaking area or country, and my friends sometimes save magazines for me.
Another idea would be to print out interesting online content and place it in several binders or if you have technology available, open up a few cool target-language websites and allow students to browse if they choose.
How to store reading materials
Raingutter bookshelves are cheap, durable, and easy to install (get your principal’s permission first!). I was able to use that wasted wall space under my whiteboard by having a gutter installed there. The books also really add color and style to my classroom!
You can also prop books up on the chalk/marker tray of your chalkboard or whiteboard!
I observed a really innovative Denver teacher who took advantage of the school’s recent purchase of several laptops. She used the boxes the laptops came in as mini individual libraries. Each student simply grabs a box on his way into class and has several books to choose from!
I’ll bet YOU can think of some clever ways to integrate more reading into your classroom, too! Let me know how it goes for you!