Motivating Readers: Collaboration, Challenge, Competence, and Choice – Webinar Q&A

We recently had an excellent webinar presented by Sarah Collinge, M.S.Ed and author of: “Raising the Standards Through Chapter Books: The C.I.A. Approach.” Sarah’s presentation was on motivating students to read and she had tons of helpful tips!

Here are some of the questions Sarah answered following her presentation:

How can you get students to collaborate with each other about what they are reading when they are using programs such as Accelerated Reader OR if they are at different reading levels?

If they are at different reading levels?

The year that I saw the most improvement in reading among all my students was when I said that the students that needed special services could still leave for those sessions but not during read aloud time. During read aloud time I would read a high level book that every student could comprehend because I was reading it aloud to them and structuring their conversations about the text. I got the highest test scores out of all the teachers in my subject area the year I made sure that my students never left for special services during read aloud time. I kept my ELL’s, special needs in my class during those read aloud sessions. AND it provided every student with a book that they could collaborate on. (Collaboration being what Sarah pointed out during the presentation to be what researchers have found to be the most important factor for motivating students to read). These sessions were beneficial for students at every level… high level and low level.

However, I also believe in meeting students where they are at. So… allowing time for independent reading where they can read books at their level is important too. Also, you can set up book clubs with students that are at the same reading level so they can collaborate with each other.

If they are using programs such as Accelerated Reader (AR)?

The Common Core Standards indicate that there should be a collaboration layer as part of the gradual release model of: teacher modeling, guided practice, collaboration, and then independent reading. For a long time I wasn’t using collaboration. I was modeling reading during read aloud time and then providing guided practice through small groups that I would organize into book clubs, then immediately sending them into independent reading, but I wasn’t having the students collaborate with each other. When I added that collaboration layer to my classroom I saw a lot better results. What I would do with the AR program was allow kids to pick the same books and partner up on a book. I would guide them to books that we had multiple copies of. I then had the students read the book at the same time. They didn’t sit together and read it together. They don’t need to do buddy reading if they are fluent readers. I had them read the book alone at their own desk and then come together to talk about the book periodically before taking the AR test.

How can you find books for older learners that read at a lower grade level? Too many of the lower level books are too juvenile for older learners.

This has been a challenge for me as well. Also, I’ve noticed that books of all levels seem to be getting longer, which further makes them difficult for lower level readers. Even if the words are at the students’ level, longer books are overwhelming to lower level readers. But, these learners definitely need to be in chapter books and not picture books. What you need to figure out with these students is what is that about chapter books that challenge them. Is it the length? Is it their ability to comprehend? Is it both? This can help you find books that are appropriate for them. Also, another problem is that a lot of students just don’t know how to read chapter books. It’s a complex process and a lot of students (even one’s that aren’t struggling) can have a difficult time with chapter books. Chapter books require a lot of thinking and they require the reader to hold on to a lot of information to complete the book. For students with dyslexia, that can be the biggest challenge for them. Teaching them to keep notes on the book can be helpful. You should teach students that reading a chapter book is kind of like putting together a puzzle. You have to break it up into manageable chunks so it isn’t overwhelming.  In my book, "Raising the Standards Through Chapter Books: The C.I.A. Approach," I mention four pieces to dividing a chapter book into manageable parts for students.

If you are interested in Sarah’s book, you can purchase it at:

You can see a review of the book on our blog on the following post: Book Review: Raising the Standards Through Chapter Books: The C.I.A. Approach by Sarah Collinge

The webinar is an hour long and you can view the entire webinar for free here: Motivating Readers: Collaboration, Challenge, Competence, and Choice

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Apr 23 2012

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