You Must Read The Alchemist

Book Reviews Notes from the Classroom

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, was given to me by a colleague, who said that the book is for the journey that our team is on. I had to admit, I had never read the text. It sat on a classroom bookshelf for years. Some students chose it for independent reading, yet I never had a kid use it during a reading unit, so it wasn’t ever on my book stack.  

And then, about a year ago, a popular song by Macklemore made some recommendations for life. One of them was, “I recommend that you read The Alchemist / Listen to your teachers, but cheat in Calculus.” I can’t speak to the math recommendation, as a person who avoided Calculus like the plague. But I can recommend that everyone from grade 7 onward read The Alchemist.

The Plot

Santiago is a shepherd who buys his own flock of sheep, even though it isn’t his family’s profession. While looking at his herd and making plans for his future, he meets a man who encourages him to look into his heart. Santiago must look for his true desire, or, as it comes to be known in the book, his “personal legend.”

The decision to achieve his personal legend takes Santiago on a journey. He visits other parts of the world, and meets many people who guide him on his quest. But the journey is not as straightforward as it seems at first. Coelho reminds us: “Making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he has never dreamed of when he first made the decision” (p. 70).

Why It’s Worth Reading

The Alchemist helps us remember that everyone has his or her own journey. Sometimes these journeys intersect. Sometimes they may be different from our own.

This makes me think about every learner that I interact with. My journey may be to forge students’ independence in reading, and to empower them to achieve writerly voices. But their journeys may be different. I just have to appreciate the time in which we have intersected on our journeys.

As Santiago learns about another, “Everyone has his or her own way of learning things. His way isn’t the same as mine, nor mine as his. But we’re both in search of our personal legends, and I respect him for that” (p. 86).

Beyond this important theme, The Alchemist resonates because it’s a joyful read, and its language is beautiful. The ideas are structured like those in a fable, too. This allows every reader to gain meaning from Santiago’s experiences.

I mirror Macklemore when I say, read The Alchemist. I hope you realize that it is a book from which you can find meaning at any point in your life. I daresay that, with multiple readings, you may find a different journey for yourself. And it is a great text for students who are in transitions–including those transitioning between middle and high school, and high school and college.  

Book Details:

Reading Level: 910L
ISBN: 978-0062315007
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Harper One
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Awards and Accolades:  Anniversary Edition, New York Times Bestseller

*Thanks to Bethany Bratney for the blog structure for a book recommendation.

pic 2Amy Gurney (@agurney_amy) is an ELA and Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator for Walled Lake Schools. She has a Master’s degree from Michigan State University in Educational Administration and an Education Specialist in Educational Leadership from Oakland University. She is a Galileo Alumni. She worked on the MAISA units of study and has studied reading and writing workshop practice and conducted action research.

 

Provocative Nonfiction about the Birth of Our Nation

Book Reviews Notes from the Classroom

I used to think that nonfiction was not my thing. But I’m a librarian, so I have to make it my thing in order to best serve my students and staff. Still, I often felt like I was twisting my own arm while reading nonfiction.

But then, as I often tell reluctant readers, after a few missteps with the wrong books at the wrong times, I started to find exciting, narrative nonfiction that was as captivating and readable as my favorite fiction pieces.

I was reading unbelievable stories about mutinies, revolutions, sports stars, and even corpses, and they were true! Not only did I have a great tale to tempt my students with, but every event actually happened.

People are enchanted by dynamic, true stories even more so than by fiction because they engage our child-like curiosity about the many events and topics that have previously eluded us. Yes, we have been in school (or out of school) for years, but we haven’t yet learned it all. I recently finished reading In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives, by Kenneth C. Davis (a 2017 YALSA Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction finalist) and found myself alight with all that I had learned and wanted to share with others.

The Story

In the Shadow of Liberty tells the true stories of five African-Americans who were enslaved by four of the country’s founding fathers. We learn about Billy Lee, Washington’s right-hand man on and off the battlefield; and Ona Judge, Washington’s house maid who escaped and was fervently hunted by both George and Martha Washington.

We hear about Paul Jennings, who grew up playing with Dolly Madison’s oldest son, though Jennings was already enslaved to the family. And we learn of Isaac Granger, who was enslaved to Thomas Jefferson after Jefferson wrote a law ending slave trading to America.

Finally, we read about Alfred Jackson. Jackson lived his entire life at Andrew Jackson’s “Hermitage,” watching as Andrew ordered enslaved workers to be whipped savagely–but then doled out vast sums to provide defense lawyers for enslaved men on trial for involvement in a slave rebellion.

Kenneth C. Davis writes about the full scope of the labor that these five people were expected to perform. He describes the way that they were treated, and most especially, the roles that they played in the major accomplishments of their owners.

Why It’s Worth Reading

We spend a great deal of time learning about the Founding Fathers and the way that they helped develop the country and institute democracy. But like all famous figures, these men did not work alone.

There were many people, including hundreds of enslaved people, who fought in the wars, managed the meetings, and built famous structures, like the White House. Billy Lee went everywhere with George Washington, fought alongside him, and carried his most precious items and documents. He is one of the most famous enslaved people in U.S. history, yet no one knows when he died or where he is buried. He never even knew his own birthday.

The thing that stands out to me most about this book is a great historical paradox. Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Jackson were all deeply involved in battles related to rights and liberties, but each of them failed to consider, at least initially, that enslaving others was a direct contradiction to their fights for freedom.

This book will make you think about American history in a completely new way. It’s a fabulous text to work into a history or sociology class, and I can see it as an engaging title for students who are interested in current civil rights issues. In the Shadow of Liberty could turn anyone into a nonfiction convert.

Book Details:
Title: In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives
Author: Kenneth C. Davis
Reading Level: AR = 8.2
ISBN: 9781627793117
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Awards/Accolades: 2017 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults finalist and at least 3 starred reviews

Bethany Bratney (@nhslibrarylady) is a National Board Certified School Librarian at Novi High School and was the recipient of the 2015 Michigan School Librarian of the Year Award.  She reviews YA materials for School Library Connection magazine and for the LIBRES review group.  She is an active member of the Oakland Schools Library Media Leadership Consortium as well as the Michigan Association of Media in Education.  She received her BA in English from Michigan State University and her Masters of Library & Information Science from Wayne State University.

Loosening The Lit Circle Grip

Notes from the Classroom


A few months back, I realized that something felt off about independent reading time in my classroom. The energy (there’s definitely an energy to a silent room full of readers) just felt like it had drained away someplace.

I fretted about this for a while. And then I remembered that I’d just spent the past month or so engaged with my favorite end-of-the-year (calendar, not school) activity–browsing the dozens of “best of” lists that flood the internet around mid-December.

So I asked each of my students to choose two books and two films from 2016’s lists, and make them their “pop culture resolutions” for the new year. The reading improved immediately. We had some great discussions about film, but the real surprise only came recently–when Lit Circle Season rolled around.

Letting Students Decide

So, Lit Circle Season isn’t really a thing. We’ve done one this time of year for the past several years, though, to mixed results. It has always gone somewhat well, but the limitations of our book options sometimes stifled student interest. They were solid titles, but the scope of student interest was much broader than what we could cover.

Cue the New Year’s Resolution lists!

This year, I pleaded with my students to maximize the Lit Circle experience by selecting their own groups, and agreeing on a book title that intrigued all of them. I was cautiously hopeful that two or three groups would find their own title based on the New Year’s lists or the recommendations of their peers (we do book talks year-round). I figured I’d get a few ambitious groups, and the rest would read the selections I had to offer.

To my surprise, only one group chose NOT to select their own book–and they all showed up on Official Book Selection Draft Day (also not really a thing) with their own copies of their chosen titles already in hand.

A Major Lift from a Minor Shift

For the first time all year, there was some buzz surrounding reading. I decided to embrace it all the way—and let go of my control:

  • My students selected their reading schedule, with Lit Circles held each Tuesday and Friday for three weeks.
  • I made discussion topics available, but I gently discouraged them. Instead, I suggested that students identify their own topics for discussion prior to each meeting–based on whatever direction their books led them.
  • Groups decided what to focus on. If their book had been adapted into a film, they might spend a meeting discussing the film. If their book echoed current events (one group, for example, read All American Boys) then perhaps one meeting might be best spent talking about a news article.
  • Assessment was built entirely around student contribution to the group’s dialogue–based on a speaking and listening rubric, not a reading comprehension rubric.

None of these are new ideas. The best voices in literacy have actually been telling us to do this stuff for years. But they do work–if you’re willing to relinquish control.

The Real Point

Once students had books they truly wanted to read, motivation took care of itself. Do they all have the required reading done by each meeting? No. Do they all love their book choices now that we’re two weeks into the process? Certainly not.

But you know what? I would answer those questions the same way for the book club that I just finished with several of my colleagues. Students–when they’re reading what they want to read–behave pretty much the same way that adults do.

Assessing this can be hazardous (mostly for students). But a well-designed discussion rubric will tell you all you need to know. My students score well on mine if they are actively engaged as listeners (body language and responsiveness to the ideas of others) and are bringing engaging, original ideas into the conversation regularly.

By the end of their Lit Circle experience, all of my kids will have read a book of merit and experienced it as a set of ideas–not the ideas I’ve pointed them to, but the ideas inherent in the text. Their peers will have helped shape their perspectives, and their own curiosity will have provided the primary force behind their efforts.

The curriculum we assign our students has great value. But none of it will build a passion for reading like the empowerment of independence.

Michael Ziegler
Michael Ziegler (@ZigThinks) is a Content Area Leader and teacher at Novi High School.  This is his 15th year in the classroom. He teaches 11th Grade English and IB Theory of Knowledge. He also coaches JV Girls Soccer and has spent time as a Creative Writing Club sponsor, Poetry Slam team coach, AdvancEd Chair, and Boys JV Soccer Coach. 
He did his undergraduate work at the University of Michigan, majoring in English, and earned his Masters in Administration from Michigan State University.  

Growing Reading Practice

Notes from the Classroom

shutterstock_140887543

I became an English teacher because I loved to read. My days would be filled studying the works of Hemingway and Fitzgerald–determining the link between a text’s historical setting and its plot, studying symbolism. I was so excited.

But with the adoption of the Common Core State Standards and my training in reading and writing workshops, I realized something. With the CCSS, I was not a teacher of literature; I was a teacher of skills to read literature. I’d like to share two experiences that helped me develop this realization.

More than Summaries

In my first experience, I was several days into an introductory unit on personal narratives. My teaching partner and I chose a Nick Adams story as the text of study. After three days reading the story together as a class (insert groan here), students wrote summaries of the stories.

But these summaries restated words I had used in class to explain key scenes. They did not reference the actual text, and they had no feeling. Each summary was dry in word choice, and the structure was repeated over and over again, across the 120 students who wrote it. It was clear that kids did not engage in the text, nor did I ask them to.

I realized that kids should and can do more with a text than just name its main idea. Second, a better teaching move would have been to model for kids how to read this text to find a main idea.  

Observing a Writer’s Craft

The next experience involved a literacy consultant who brought some texts that were so interesting in content and structure, that I had to find a place to use them in my classroom. The consultant shared these texts as mentor texts for middle school informational reading. The texts were news articles and introductions to books, on The New York Times.

As a teacher who has always taught without a textbook, these texts opened my mind to authentic genres and dynamic texts that were rigorous for my grade level. They were also the complete opposite of the dry, formulaic informational essays that I had been reading.

Now I knew that I had texts that were worth reading beyond the main ideas. They had a beauty of language and unique structures that related to the development of their main ideas. I needed to model for kids, then, how to read these texts–to appreciate the word choices, craft decisions, and structures.

Close Reading

I currently work with teachers, and help them choose texts with the rigor expected in the CCSS. These are real-life texts that students can later use as mentor texts for writing.

51AsrMeYOxL._SX402_BO1,204,203,200_I teach close reading strategies for fiction and informational reading. According to Fisher and Frey, “Close reading is an instructional routine in which students are guided in their understanding of complex texts” (2015, p. 1). As an instructional coordinator, I love that Fisher and Frey’s text is offered for grades K-5 and 6-12. Key ideas from the 6-12 text that I have used in classrooms:

  • 1st read: What does the text say? By underlining key ideas and details, develop an understanding of the central idea of the text.
  • 2nd read: How does the text work? By taking note of vocabulary, craft, and structure, understand why an author uses these moves to enhance the main idea.
  • 3rd read: What does the text mean? Consider the bias and purpose of the writing to determine how a reader receives this text.
  • 4th read: What does the text inspire you to do? Evaluate the action you will take, having read this text, such as writing or debating.

Reading can be relevant and exciting for students. At the same time, I can teach reading skills, like noticing an author’s craft, and the impact these things have on my reading experience.

A Farewell to Arms may still be my favorite book of all time, and I may read it everyday before I go to bed. But my job as a teacher of English is to help kids learn how to access meaning from any text that they may encounter in their lives.

pic 2Amy Gurney (@agurney_amy) is an ELA and Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator for Walled Lake Schools. She has a Master’s degree from Michigan State University in Educational Administration and is currently pursuing an Education Specialist in Educational Leadership at Oakland University. She is a current Galileo Leader. She worked on the MAISA units of study and has studied reading and writing workshop practice and conducted action research.

Star-Crossed Lovers for a Modern World

Book Reviews Notes from the Classroom

sun is also a starStar-crossed lovers . . .  by the time that nearly every high school student reads Romeo and Juliet, the battle between love and tremendous odds has become one of the most common motifs in all forms of the media they consume.

Songwriters pen lyrics about trying to make love work–in opposition to fierce outside forces. Countless movies and television shows depict relationships blossoming, and sometimes subsequently wilting, as friends, family, and even pets put forth major resistance.

But the world of literature is the big kahuna for complicated romance, and YA literature has a corner on the market. It is only fitting that young people make the best star-crossed lovers (even Shakespeare thought so), since their relationships are under more scrutiny and supervision than those of most adults.

I’ve read some truly excellent YA novels that have come out in the last few years, and are about conflicted or ill-fated romance (Eleanor & Park, Like No OtherDaughter of Smoke & Bone). But The Sun is Also a Star tops my list. (I’m not alone; see Awards & Accolades in the Book Details section of this post).

The Plot

The day that Natasha and Daniel meet is one that is already slated to change both of their lives.

Daniel is headed to his Yale admission interview. If it goes well, he’s headed to Connecticut to become a doctor, just like his parents have always wanted.

Natasha’s family is being deported to Jamaica–tonight. She’s hoping to meet with a lawyer to figure out a way to stay. They are in the middle of major moments in their lives, but when they meet, they both have entirely new reasons for staying in New York. Do they dare disturb the universe and its plan already in progress? Or is being together part of the plan?

Why It’s Worth Reading

There are a lot of sappy teen romances out there. This isn’t one of them.

The Sun is Also a Star is a clever, sincere, hilarious–yet poignant–story about two young people who don’t have time or space in their lives for each other. But they just cannot help themselves. They come from completely different cultures and have completely different life philosophies. No one would ever put them together, and some are actively trying to keep them apart. But the universe has other plans.

As an adult, I appreciated that while this is a teen romance of the sweeping-off-the-feet variety, this relationship is not one dimensional. Their lives continue when they are apart. Their problems do not simply disappear because they have fallen in love. This is love in the real world: consuming, but complex.

If the story itself were not enough, author Nicola Yoon also includes chapters that depart from the narrative, and which function as informative asides. This adds tremendous depth and oft-needed background to the plot.

One of these asides, for example, might focus on a minor character with whom Natasha interacts for only a few minutes, giving history and explanations about how their momentary interaction has a lasting impact. Later in the story, after the reader learns that Daniel’s South Korean parents own a black-hair-care store, one of these chapters briefly but compellingly explains the fascinating history of the South Korean hair trade, which led to nearly all black-hair-care shops in New York being owned by immigrants from South Korea.

There is a reason that this novel made seemingly all of the “best of” lists in 2016, and was a finalist in multiple award categories, including the John Steptoe New Talent Award (a sub-category of the Coretta Scott King Award) and National Book Award. As YA star-crossed lover novels go, it’s hard to beat.

Book Details:
Title: 
The Sun is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Reading Level: AR = 4.7, Lexile = HL650L
ISBN: 9780553496680
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Awards/Accolades: 2017 Printz Award finalist, 2017 John Steptoe Award for New Talent, 2016 National Book Award finalist and at least five starred reviews!

pic of meBethany Bratney (@nhslibrarylady) is a National Board Certified School Librarian at Novi High School and was the recipient of the 2015 Michigan School Librarian of the Year Award.  She reviews YA materials for School Library Connection magazine and for the LIBRES review group.  She is an active member of the Oakland Schools Library Media Leadership Consortium as well as the Michigan Association of Media in Education.  She received her BA in English from Michigan State University and her Masters of Library & Information Science from Wayne State University.

Everybody Needs a Librarian

Notes from the Classroom

booksplosionDuring a power outage this afternoon, I decided it was time to tackle a major problem in my house: the books-plosion.

This–the image on the left–was just my daughter’s room. We had similar piles in the living room and my son’s room.

It was time to cull the herd.  

I put the children to work and came back about an hour later to discover the herd was still quite large. However, a budding young librarian had been organizing.

I listened at the door as my son, who’s eight, talked to my five-year-old daughter about his system of organization: These books are really more for me, Molly. But this shelf will be great for you while you’re learning to read.”

It was one of those heartwarming parenting moments, and I watched as he helped her pick a “just right” book to add to her own shelf. I’m sure he’ll continue giving his sister recommendations for years to come, but at some point, my daughter will probably need recommendations from a real librarian. I’m hoping that one will be available at her school.

Last week, The Detroit News ran an opinion piece about the need to restore certified library staff to our public schools, and as I read about the horrifying numbers of dwindling librarians in public schools, I realized that I needed to share my story. At Novi, we’ve retained our librarians, and I’ve had the benefit of seeing firsthand the impact a certified librarian can have on a school.

Fostering a Culture of Reading

Certainly, anyone can–and should–give book recommendations to students. But you can’t understate the impact of having someone whose job it is to read widely and share that knowledge.  

An example helps explain why. Two years ago, a young man came to me insisting that he hated reading. I went through all of my usual winners that hook kids, but I was unsuccessful.

So I sent him to our librarian, Bethany Bratney. She managed to figure out he was interested in organized crime, and she matched him with the right book: Son of the Mob, by Gordon Korman.  

Bethany comes weekly to my AP Language classes and recommends books that will push students’ thinking, and help deepen their contextual pools. She visits our co-departmental special education classes and book-talks our Playaway collection, giving kids access to all kinds of books they may not be able to read independently.  

To foster a culture of reading in a school, then, it’s essential to have someone whose job is to know books that will be the right fit for all different kinds of kids.

Spreading the Book Love

Her job doesn’t stop at recommendations, though. Bethany has been key in our efforts to celebrate reading with our students.

dress up

Our last New Years reading party, with students’ reading resolutions. Click to enlarge.

For the past two years, she and I have co-hosted a New Year’s Reading Resolutions party in December, and a Reading in the Sunshine summer reading kick-off in June. In February we made Book Valentines. Last fall she helped another teacher participate in the Global Read Aloud with her students, and this semester she’s encouraging kids to Read Without Walls, and find books that help them learn about other people and cultures. Bethany also leads two different, well-attended staff book clubs–one for “fun” books and one for professional books.

Could all of these things happen without her? Maybe. But would they? I don’t think they would–at least not all of them.

Team Teaching

Still, her job extends even beyond all of that.

I teach a research-intensive class, and Bethany has become a regular visitor. I considered myself pretty adept at the old interwebs until I watched Bethany model how to narrow a search in JSTOR. In other classes, she teaches the basics of source evaluation and citation.

She also helps support writing in the content areas, and works with our science and social studies teachers to teach research techniques. We don’t have it all figured out when it comes to teaching research skills or research writing. But we’re getting a lot of help approaching this in a systematic way.

Everybody Needs a Bethany

Unfortunately, you can’t have ours. But, if you’re lucky like me and you teach in a district with a certified teacher librarian, I hope you’re taking full advantage of this person’s skills!

If your district has cut those positions, I’d encourage you to advocate for their return. We, as teachers, need to communicate to the those in power how important teacher librarians are. We simply cannot expect to build vibrant reading communities in our schools without the help of qualified professional librarians. 

Hattie Maguire (@TeacherHattie) is an English teacher and Content Area Leader at Novi High School. She is spending her sixteenth year in the classroom teaching AP English Language and Composition, AP Seminar and doing Tier 2 writing intervention. She is a National Board Certified Teacher who earned her BS in English and MA in Curriculum and Teaching from Michigan State University.

Public Act 306 of 2016: Third Grade Reading in Michigan

Website PicOn October 6, 2016, Michigan became the 37th state to adopt third grade reading legislation when Governor Rick Snyder signed Public Act 306 into law. Public Act 306 of 2016 (now referred to as MCL 380.1280f) will require all 3rd Grade students not scoring proficient on the 3rd Grade English Language Arts state summative assessment be retained. This legislation took effect immediately and 2016-17 kindergarteners will be the first cohort of students impacted by the retention aspects of the law in 2019-20.

Oakland Schools is working with intermediate school districts around the state to share guidance on implementation of this legislation. We hope the PA 306 of 2016: Third Grade Reading Timelines & Resources guide below will assist districts and schools with successful implementation of Michigan’s 3rd Grade Reading Law.

 

PA 306 of 2016: Third Grade Reading Timelines & Resources

(updated October 26, 2017)

 


Questions? Need more information?

If you have questions about this resource, please contact: Michele.Farah@oakland.k12.mi.us

Selling Reading to Kids Who Hate It

Notes from the Classroom

shutterstock_307383305Strong words, right? Whenever I see the words hate and reading this close together, my skin crawls.

And yet, I have known many students who have resisted reading with a vengeance. But instead of throwing my hands up, I learned how to strategically market books to students who fought the process.

Give Books Street Cred

“Wait-wait. He read this? He read a book?”

This was a student’s response when I book-talked Boy 21, by Matthew Quick, to him. I ended my spiel saying how much his friend and fellow “non-reader” liked it.

The student was shocked that a.) his friend had read a book and b.) he had actually liked it. That conversation did more for the student than my simply telling him that Boy 21 was one of my favorite books from that summer. Of course I love books. I’m the English teacher. But a resistant reader, reading the book while he was home sick–instead of watching Netflix?

Books need street cred.

Talk a Lot About Books

More than ever, resistant readers need exposure to new books. They also need repeated invitations to read.

When I taught seniors, I made it my point to talk about a new book every day for the first unit. I wanted kids to see my genuine interest, engagement, and happiness that a book gave me. Even though some kids’ eyes glazed over, others were quietly taking note of my recommendations.

In fact, in his final reading reflection, one student described how my daily book talks unexpectedly piqued his interest. This student had struggled to find a book to hold his interest. Add this to frequent absences, and it was easy to view him as a disengaged student.

But by the middle of the semester, he ended up selecting Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried to read. Talking freely about a wide range of books opened a door for membership into the reading community–for a student who did not see himself as a reader.

Let Them Hear Other Resistant Voices

Penny Kittle's interviews of high school students. Click to view on YouTube.

Penny Kittle’s interviews of high school students. Click to view the interviews on YouTube.

Every semester, I introduced independent reading to my classes using Penny Kittle’s interviews of resistant readers. Kittle’s interviews are raw, and students freely share their disdain for books.

At one point, a boy confesses to all the fake reading he had done over his schooling. Kittle follows it with simple empathy: “Has reading always been hard for you?”

I always loved watching kids react to this clip. First, it was interesting to watch many nod their heads when the student began talking about the fake reading he had done. But most of all, I noticed how freeing it was for students to watch another be vulnerable about his reading baggage. I would watch relief cross their faces as they realized that they are not alone in their vulnerability.

If I say reading is hard for me, kids don’t buy it. But if they hear others say so, it has a deep resonance. And then when they hear that same voice share a book they love: it’s magic.

Let Them Quit

The worst thing teachers can do for a resistant reader is force them to read a book they hate. The main reason kids tell me that they don’t read: “’cause it’s boring.” What they really mean is that they don’t like to read boring books.

When students quit, it is key to have another book waiting in the wings. Recently, I book-talked Twisted to a student who admitted he doesn’t read alongside his classmates at the daily read. One of my big selling points was that he could quit if he disliked it. We set a deal: if he read three chapters and disliked it, he could come back for another book. When he left, he assured me that he’d give it a try.

Kids who struggle to read often need to experience a book that makes them feel successful. Repeated invitations to read, exposure to a wide variety of books, and reading autonomy are empowering ways to position non-readers as readers.

lauren nizolLauren Nizol (@CoachNizol) is an MTSS Student Support Coach and Interventionist at Novi High School. She has eleven years of classroom experience, teaching English, IB Theory of Knowledge and English Lab. Lauren completed her undergraduate degree in History, English and Secondary Education at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and her Masters in English Education from Eastern Michigan University. She is a National Writing Project Teacher Consultant with the Eastern Michigan Writing Project and an advocate for underperforming students and literacy interventions.