Thirty minutes of Drop Everything And Read (DEAR), three times per week grows quite stale come September 30th. Here are some ideas to keep kids reading and hold them accountable for for what they read:
1. Reflection Sheet: Our Language Arts team created a weekly sheet that students fill out the last five minutes of the reading period. The sheet has ten questions for them to select on Mondays and ten questions for them to select on Wednesdays. It keeps things fresh and allows for student choice. Suggested prompts include: “My character has changed by…”; “If I were in the same situation as the book’s character I would act the same or different because…”; “One time I felt similar to my character when…”; “I felt angry when…”; “What I just read reminded me of…”.
2. Whip Around: I keep a list of prompts on a powerpoint and pull up the slide on days that call for some class involvement. I pose the prompt, give students think time, all students rise, and we “whip around” the room until everyone has completed a response. Prompts include: “One word to describe the main character in my book is _________________.”; “I predict the next thing that will happen in my book is __________________________.”; “If I could ask any character in my book one question, it would be ___________________________.”
3. “Stand up if…”: This is another slide in my “Silent Reading” PowerPoint. Teacher calls out prompts, students rise if the statement applies to their book/reading experience. Stand up if your book is a mystery; Stand up if the main character in your book is your age.
4. Make a Case: This is a bit more in depth, but allows students to practice their speaking skills. Select a prompt…”my character is the funniest because…”. Students must decide at their table who has the funniest character (using examples to back it up), then each table representative makes a case to the class. Students can vote by show of hands who makes the best case, and which character/plot/book/setting best fits the criteria of the prompt.
5. Human Barometer: This activity allows students to get up out of their seat; assess their book; and rate their book based on a prompt. I usually do this activity to gauge how well students have selected their books and if they are making appropriate selections. Prompts may include: I’m enjoying my book; I would recommend my book to a friend. One side of the room is “YES!”; one side of the room is “NO!”. Students must place their body somewhere along the invisible line between yes and no to represent how much they agree/disagree with the statement.