Impacting Students a Book at a Time

What impacts student achievement?  High yield instructional strategies?  Absolutely!  John Hattie’s influences on student achievement?  Without a doubt!  Marzano’s nine instructional strategies?  Without a doubt.   And, I am passionate about all of these because they increase the chances student achievement exponentially.

However, there’s this one other thing I do as a teacher and coach that reaches kids like nothing else: exhibiting the love of reading and exposing them to the adventures and lessons that lie within the pages of a book.

I’ve written on this topic before (see “Mrs. Palmer Has Changed my Life” and “Inspire the Desire to Read”) so I won’t make this a repeat of that.  But, I will say, after presenting a lesson involving critical thinking tied to the Shadow Children Series by Margaret Peterson Haddix, I was reminded of this impact. I relived the impact, the feeling it gave me to see the sparkle in the eyes of kids as they got so excited to read a book.  And, what did it take?  Just a little discussion and intrigue via a values line continuum and a few minutes of showing book trailers.

What’s my evidence for knowing this impact exists, other than my observation of how engaged the kids were by simply talking about the series?  Other than noticing how they asked with a hope in their voice “how many copies does our library have?” Other than them asking questions of each other that exhibited deep critical thinking?  All that was a teacher’s dream; it’s why we teach.  But, here’s the best thing.  Afterwards, a parent of one of the kids I presented to said that her daughter came home that day with a degree of excitement that was immeasurable.  She had such an excitement for the book series and reading in general that her mom had to buy the series immediately.  And, this was motivation to read in a child that had been lacking for quite a while. That was one of those moments we never forget as teachers.  It could potentially be the start of a life-long reader.

Here’s the thing: we have to instill life-long reading in our kids, and I’m here to say it can be done. I’ve seen it time and time again.  Why is this so important?  Among other reasons, voracious reading has a huge effect on student achievement, not just reading achievement.  We have to get our kids reading more and reading because they want to.  How are they going to get better at applying the skills and strategies we teach them, if they don’t read?  It’s like a coach teaching a basketball player to do a lay-up and then never giving them time to practice.  We have to get our kids into books to “practice” and apply the five components of reading.  And, just as important, we want them to build the foundation to make this a life-long activity.  I urge you, make the time in your school day to make things like this happen.  You will leave school that day with a warm heart.

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7 thoughts on “Impacting Students a Book at a Time

  1. Ellen Dunn

    I am a student at the University of South Alabama studying Elementary Education and recently I have been seriously thinking about how much I read and how will affect my future students. I really enjoyed reading as an elementary student and through middle school, but I quit reading as much in high school. So it was especially interesting that this was the post I was assigned to comment on and I really valued what you had to say. Thank you for the insight, it meant a lot to me.
    Thanks again,
    Ellen Dunn

  2. Hi Mrs. Palmer! I am currently an Elementary Education major at the University of South Alabama, in Mobile, Alabama. Each week I am assigned a teacher’s blog to comment on, and in a couple of weeks, I will summarize this post as well as another from your blog. You can find that at allenbrookeedm310.blogspot.com. I really enjoyed reading your blog! Reading has always been one of my favorite things to do, and I hope I can motivate my students to enjoy reading as much as you have. I recently created a book trailer for one of my classes, and it’s awesome to know that they can actually get students interested in books. I’m sure it’s very gratifying to know that you are changing so many children’s lives for the better! Once again, I really enjoyed reading your blog. It taught me a lot. Thanks for sharing!
    Brooke Allen

  3. Isaac Wiggins

    I am a student at the University of South Alabama currently attending EDM 310. I am a future teacher. Your post really taught me how you can not just teach the surface of the subject. You have to teach the whole subject. I forget just how deep a story can be. I think most students just read the story looking for the answers to possible questions. Thank you for showing me things to use when I get a chance to teach.
    Thank you,
    Isaac Wiggins

  4. Justin Thomas

    Great blog post Mrs. Palmer. I agree educators have to cultivate a love for reading books within their students. This will help them become lifelong learners and give them a passion for seeking knowledge. As you mentioned the moment students become passionate about reading books could be the turning point in their life. I can attest to that because it was a pivotal moment in my life. Thanks again for sharing another meaningful blog post.

  5. Jessica

    I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed reading your blog post especially because I am working to become an elementary teacher. I agree that books should be a big part of the learning process. I think that your blog should be geared more towards high school students because I do not think they push as hard for students to read as elementary and middle school does.

  6. Jessica Harris

    I wholeheartedly agree with your above thoughts. Often it can be difficult to get children interested in reading, but it is possible. I have been studying about the five components of reading in one of my classes at the University of South Alabama and it is nice to see someone as adamant about it as well. I enjoyed reading, thanks!

  7. Ms. Palmer,

    Your posts are truly inspiring! As an aspiring educator, I look forward to seeing the excitement on a student’s face when they’ve discovered how much they like what they’re studying or just that “AHA!” moment when they know that a concept has “clicked” in their mind and they fully understand what we’re teaching. It doesn’t matter what age we’re teaching because whether the students realize it or not, they do love learning and each student is unique because their tastes are all different!

    Thanks for a great read!
    -Courtney

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