#SOL19: Words Count

“I’m done.  I read from the green to the red and back. I’m done,” echoed from Joey’s corner.  Abbie, with her back to Joey, kept reading.

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Demonstration Reading Mat

Joey pulled out the slip and a pencil. He started counting. “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.”

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He wrote a “10” under Monday in both blanks because he had read 10 books twice. Abbie was still reading. Joey started going through his stack. He knew he needed to choose partner reading books. He picked up several books. He read two from the first page to the end and put both of them in a pile to read with Abbie.

As Abbie picked up her recording slip, she recorded “10”, “10” and quickly chose her last two books for her partner reading books. (Noted: Efficient use of time) Abbie and Joey turned side by side, chorally read all four books and both recorded 4 books under Partner on the recording slip.

DATA:

Abbie read 24 “E level books” ranging from 100-125 words.

  • Total words read = 2400 – 3000.

Joey also recorded 24 books but actually read 26 ranging from 100-125 words.

  • Total words read = 2600 – 3250.

Reading Volume: Why is it important?  

Gladwell’s research found experts put in approximately 10,000 hours of practice in order to be experts. What expertise do our students when they graduate from high school?  Working with some “round numbers” let’s consider the total number of hours a student spends in school.

6 hours each day x 180 days each year x 13 years (K-12)  =  14,040 total hours

Understanding that some instructional time will be lost. Lunch. Recess. Early outs. Late starts. Fire drills. Tornado drills. Active shooter drills. Assemblies. Field trips. I’m sure you can add to the list of what interrupts instructional time.

10,000 hours = experts so student expertise at graduation must be in “being students” as they haven’t had 10,000 hours to be readers, writers, listeners, talkers, thinkers, AND mathematicians, social scientists, scientists and fine arts experts.

Why does it matter?

Consider first graders Abbie and Joey in late September. Their books are primarily a Level E in order to concentrate practice with fairly predictable text to build accuracy, fluency and automaticity as well as confidence and independence.

Joey is in an intervention group where he chooses 5 of the books and often practices a shared reading from his classroom. 6 more books = a range of 600 – 650 more words.  Total today from 32 books = 3200 – 3900 words.

Is the difference in words read an inequity?

Before your eyes glaze over . . . Over the course of the week, the potential discrepancy will widen; the range for Abbie may be 12,000-15,000 words read in a week while Joey may read 16,000-19,500 words. Is it “fair” or “equitable” that Joey may read about another day’s worth of words during the week.

Here’s what you need to know about Joey:  No one at home reads in English. Joey is deliberately scheduled for extra practice at school to maintain a high reading volume.

Our first draft question:  What is the range in daily reading volume (books/words read) that builds successful habits, joy, competence and confidence in fall of first grade?

How do you check in on reading volume?

How do you make decisions about who needs practice?


Additional Resources:

  • Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The Story of Success. Little, Brown and Company.
  • McVeigh, F. (2013). Volume of Reading: How much is enough?  link
  • Robb, L. Volume in reading still matters!  edublog.scholastic.comScreenshot 2019-10-22 at 4.44.39 AMScreenshot 2019-10-22 at 4.45.04 AM



Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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Addendum:  The reading conferences with this student will address this practice reading because of Regie Routman’s words, “deliberate practice without effective teaching and coaching doesn’t guarantee growth.”

Routman, R. (2018). Literacy Essentials: Engagement, Excellence, and Equity for ALL Learners. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

12 responses

  1. Fran, your post me thinking – no worrying – about those students who need that extra practice time and don’t get it. What systems can we put in place to provide that time? Where can we find that extra time in the day? Thanks

    1. Christine,
      The students that keep us awake. Time is finite. How do we use it to meet student needs. I continue to study the Drive Model of Reading because reading is complex. https://ila.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/trtr.1818
      And yet our students remain “over taught and under practiced” at so many levels.

      1. And, thank you for the ILA link.

      2. Reading . . . never simple! 🙂

  2. Thank you for this post. Quantifying the actual practice is essential. And engineering the time for those who can’t at home is a difficult task, especially as the student gets older. Our lessons are tools. Calculating the amount of time students need to practice should be an essential part of our lesson planning.

    1. I appreciate your response. For a bit I was lost in the math, but there is no sense of URGENCY without it. Part of this was in my #ILA19 presentation! Time is our most precious resource and we must use it wisely!

      1. Ah,yes the math. It’s not a comfortable place. But without looking at the data we don’t have a place to ground our thinking. Sounds like the presentation was amazing.Thanks for sharing so it here.

      2. Numbers and math that can inform our instruction; not just “judge” students or teachers. Formative!

  3. I love how you rolled this out in your argument . Makes me wonder … shouldn’t districts K-12 decide what we are trying to achieve in these cumulative 10,000 hours? Shouldn’t we assure our focus is vertically aligned so there is even a chance of 10,000 hours? Big questions here…

    1. Oh, Clare! That is a huge question. What is our promise to our community and our students at the end of the 10,000 hours?

  4. As with so many other aspects of learning, I believe that student need plays an important role in deciding what the “magic” number is. The minimum number might might change according to a student’s situation and need. I think this is something districts need to be aware of.

    1. Good material for conversations at the very least!

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