While introducing Read-to-Self, I introduced the term – “stamina”. Our conversation went like this – “Friends, I love running. My goal is to run a marathon this spring. A marathon is 26 miles. (ooooooo) If I went out and tried to run 26 miles, could I? No! Of course not. I have not built my running stamina. But if I start practicing now and run more and more, will I be ready? Yes! The same is true for reading. If I asked you to sit down and read for 20 minutes without stopping, could you? No! You haven’t built your reading stamina. Is that okay? Absolutely! Just like I need to build my running stamina, we need to build our reading stamina. It is going to be AWESOME!”
Once small groups of students grab their book bins and meet me on the carpet, we find our just-right spots. I’ll be honest – hand-placing students in reading spots did not work for me. It took FOREVER and seemed silly. After our first day of building stamina, we talked about ‘just-right’ reading spots, and I began letting students choose their own. Most of my friends prefer small corners and spaces, but others (like the friend below) prefer stomach-reading. 🙂 Having students picking their own spot from the very beginning has worked well. There is only 1 student who no longer has the choice on where to sit, and gradually he’ll earn more choice.
When 1 student has broken stamina, I ring our bell 3 times and students know to quickly and quietly meet me on the floor to reflect. We write ‘Pluses’ and ‘Deltas’ on the SMART Board. Then, we take a moment to graph our stamina as a class. It has been so motivating for students to have a visual. Who doesn’t want a taller bar graph?!? When we make it to 12 minutes of reading stamina, we will stop practicing stamina and just review after breaks or when we’ve forgotten how to become a better reader. You may grab this graph here or by clicking below!
As you can see, our first venture was short. Very short. 1 min and 42 seconds. Oy! Lots of room to grow, right?! 😉 Slowly but surely, with more practice, we have grown SO much as readers. Just last week (when I took this photo), we hit 10 minutes of reading stamina!
We have been so excited about each victory and my students are becoming much better readers. It has been a S.L.O.W. process, but completely worth it. It has required patience and a whole lot of carpet reflections and a lot of – “Will __________ this make us a better reader?” But, this seems to be the story with 1st grade – patience, practice, questions, smiling, try again. It’s a nice pattern, and we’re all getting the hang of it.
The best part? I see a genuine excitement for reading in my students. They want to share their library books with me. They are reading in the gym before school starts. They love Mo Williams. There is a willingness to try hard things.
To me, this is the victory of reading stamina and Daily 5. Yes, there are a lot of wrinkles to iron out (i.e. independence), but the small victories are there! So, tell me, what are your victories in your reading block?
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