School is not a good place to read, or enjoy reading. To concentrate on reading, a student should block out the sounds of the neighbor sitting next to her, the drone of the lunchroom crowd, and the teacher interrupting every 15 – 20 minutes to give instructions or move members of a group to another spot. If I was a student in a classroom in 2015, I’d be in big trouble in reading class. Location, location, location, they say. Well, a classroom is not a workable environment for any type of reading, practice or pleasure.
The considerations surrounding environment inside a classroom mostly circle around the cost of creating a comfortable space. Yes, I know, you can buy remnant carpets and reuse old book boxes economically. I hunt and peck through yard sales, and ask people to give their former furniture pieces. I shop the sales. However, school is still just NOT home. Not comfortable. Not peaceful for reading.
Some say “it’s not about the furnishings and decorations.” They are right. It’s not. I have plenty of books. Thousands, even. I’m still unpacking boxes this year, and students love to discover the new titles on the shelves. But where can they sit to enjoy reading those books? How is a student supposed to stay engaged in the reading when the environment is not an engaging place?
Just wondering…those 5 Lenses of Powerful Instruction are on my mind this evening.
October 6, 2015 at 8:24 PM
This is a very interesting view. When I moved to my new school last year, I felt it was less “homey” than my 4th grade classroom. I think part of it is the age group, but much of it is the classroom decor and layout. My new school is only five years old whereas my old school was 100 years old. My new school is very modern in the colors and decor and the room is very boxy. My old room was traditional block walls with primary colors and lots of room for nooks and crannies for my students to read. Although I love my new school, there are things I do miss.
October 6, 2015 at 10:30 PM
In my school, which is a pod, there is constant noise and lots of shifting around. I get tired of the amount of sound. The students are used to it, it seems. I think that sliding off the desk and reading on the carpet of the floor is fine with them. I suspect that our environment is more peaceful that what they encounter at home. Some share small spaces with multiple families. Some have little siblings who eat books and cry a lot. Some have parents who stay up watching TV very late at night. School, for these kids, I think, is a very nice environment.
When I am truly in the reading state, it doesn’t matter where I am. I am lost in the book.
October 7, 2015 at 5:18 AM
You make a great point. Creating the just right environment is a challenge. Every student needs something different. It is helpful to actually practice ignoring distractions. For instance, I purposely move papers, sigh, open and close drawers, all for the sake of practicing tuning out distractions. It also takes weeks to find a just right spot but I give them that time to learn how to settle in and love reading at school Being a student today would be a challenge for me as well. However, I’ve been reminded several times that it is a better reading environment in school than at home and that is why I work hard to practice how to read in the environment we are in.