A decision made

For my final COETAIL project I chose to focus on what I consider to be one of the greatest challenges my students face: reading as part of their home learning routine. For the majority of students I work with, reading is challenging and so often, by their own admission, students avoid reading at home. I hope to address this by providing students with a purpose for practicing reading. I have prompted students to record themselves reading aloud to create videos to share with younger students as part of my school’s “Bedtime Stories” program. Bedtime stories are read alouds by adults in our community for students to listen to at home and this will be the first time we have some created and shared by students.  In the interests of confidentiality, I won’t be including students’ names or photos of their faces in this project, however, I hope to include video/ audio samples as well as student feedback and reflections.

Photo by Janko Ferlič on

I began this project by simply asking my students how often they read in English in order to get an idea of the groups I should be targeting.

Graph to show minutes read per week

When first discussing their reading habits, most of my students began by assuring me that they read for X number of minutes per night as outlined by their homeroom teacher.  This is with the exception of one fourth-grader who, and I respect his honesty, told me that he added the total time required for the week and read for that long on Monday so that he didn’t have to read for the rest of the week. Once I reassured each student that I wouldn’t be discussing their answers with their teachers they started opening up more and being more honest about the time they spent reading. When I asked about the reasons they avoided reading, there were a few trends. Time was a contributing factor for many, as too was homework in Chinese, however, the most telling response was from a student who told me that reading isn’t fun for her. Elaborating, she admitted that reading for her is tiring and frustrating; she would rather be doing things she enjoyed doing instead. Fair enough.

I have ended up with a shortlist of 11 students. Four grade two students, four grade three students, and three grade four students. The majority of these students read between 20 – 30 minutes per week at the moment. I would love to see that time change to 20 – 30 minutes every day. I am excited to see if this project can help to develop this group of students’ reading habits and make reading more appealing.

Photo by Laura Kapfer on unsplash

My Concern

I worry that I am too fixated on just having the students build fluency. I hope to inspire them to include reading as part of their daily routines, however, what if all I am doing is having them read words without comprehension. I can read Korean *cue slightly sarcastic woo* but just because I can sound out the characters doesn’t mean I actually understand the words. Does this mean that my scope is too narrow or is it better to target one area of reading?

This article  does a great job of explaining the different facets of reading fluency and how they contribute to developing a reader’s ability. Through developing a struggling reader’s automatic processing, they can start to expand more energy on making sense of what they are reading. In our classes, I am working to develop and introduce strategies for students to use across all areas of literacy, so I feel as though targeting one area may be okay. I also keep coming back to the overall goal. Providing students with something that is fun and motivating in order to develop reading habits.

Final thoughts

I am going to start by selecting a range of texts for students to choose from for their first reads, but then I would quite like them to start choosing their own books. This may be a hard process though, so if you have any suggestions of books that you enjoy reading aloud or remember enjoying having them read aloud to you, please feel free to suggest them!







  1. I loved reading about your students’ insights into why they are not reading. These are so powerful to read and are a great building block to what you are creating with your final project. Yes, you are focusing much of this project around reading fluency however I think that you are making your students feel successful in a “fun and motivating (way) in order to develop reading habits.” You may want to check out this from Scholastics and a few of my fav. Read aloud authors are Oliver Jeffers, Julia Donaldson and Mo Willems. Good luck with it all, I can not wait to hear your students read!

  2. Hi Simon. I love that you are using this idea for your final project. Luckily, we only had 3 weeks of Home Learning this year. Reading during this time was the thing I worried about as well. When we went online, students were reading nonfiction texts and articles on social justice issues. My teaching partner and I could tell from the research slide deck my students used to gather the information that many were not reading at home. I didn’t really want to ask them to keep a reading log on top of everything else they were doing, but it was hard to hold them accountable.

    I’m not sure what grade you teach, but for elementary students, we can assign books using EPIC. This way we can see if students have read the assigned books or not as EPIC will show you the student’s progress. Also, if you have access to Newsela, you can assign articles and also see the progress. I like Newsela because there are comprehension quizzes at the end of some articles. Another tool to get students reading is Read-Theory. org. These are short reading passages with comprehension questions.

    We also incorporated Read Alouds into our synchronous learning time each day. Last year, when we were online for a longer period., we had NHS students come onto Zoom as guest readers. They’d read aloud picture books for our classes. This was a fun way to get students excited about reading.

    Good luck with your final project!

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