I would like to know how to help students concentrate on their individual reading books. I have a hard time with students becoming distracted by small group discussion or other students reading aloud on the computers.
I have a really small classroom and this used to be a huge struggle for me. Here are a combination of strategies that I use:
1) Use a podium when teaching small group. I used to sit down during small group, but as soon as I started standing with a podium (I use a music stand) I realized that the kids were a lot better at staying on task. After my students settled down, I started sitting on an elevated stool.
2) For specific students who are having a hard time finding good SRC books, personally help them choose a book. I intentionally try to have them pick short books in the beginning, because once they get those first few books done they feel confident.
3) Use an incentive chart. I have charts that I stamp. I award points for completing books. The number of stamps vary with the difficulty and length of each book.
I've read student reflections that said that the incentive chart were what got the students to read in the beginning.
4) Make sure that students know their SRC procedures. Sometimes in the beginning of the year, if my students cannot do SRC and Read 180 on their own, I'll only have two rotations and I'll troubleshoot until the students have everything down. Students who do not know what to do become distractions.
5) Point out to students doing Read 180 to record using a low speaking tone and to keep the volume down. Even with headphones, if the videos are turned all the way up, it can get very distracting.
6) Patrol the class when your small group is writing. When my small group is brainstorming or writing before a pair-share I'll take a quick 20 second stroll around the class.
7) Segregate students if they are talking in their SRC rotation. Because my class is so small, I don't have room for a separate reading area. Instead I have students read in their whole group instruction seats and they are spread throughout the class. This has the added benefit of keeping the SRC rotation students from talking to each other.
These are some of the things that I do to keep students on task. My classroom is one of the smallest in the entire school, but once the kids have the procedures down and see that I'm on top of them, they get their work done.
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