One sensible teaching idea that helps readers improve

The most sensible idea for helping readers improve is also the most powerful.

Acclaimed researcher Richard Allington has shown that, like anything else that requires practice, kids become better readers by reading. He recommends, therefore, that whole-class texts be taught only 20–30 percent of the time, and that as much time as possible be given over to independent reading.

Here’s how award-winning New Hampshire teacher Penny Kittle balances the reading time in her classroom in alignment with Allington’s research:

50% for independent reading

Books chosen by students with increasing challenge and complexity across the year

25% for reading mentor texts

Annotating short texts that reveal genre characteristics and the writer’s craft in support of both reading and writing goals

25% for whole-class or book-club novel study

Based on curricular needs and with careful differentiation to support each reader’s needs.

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