Schools
Schools
    Coppell High School

    Coppell High School

    A Tradition of Excellence

    Sustained Silent Reading (SSR)

    One of the exciting changes to this year's grades 9-12 on-level ELA classrooms is our Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) Wednesdays. Every Wednesday students will be reading for 30-40 minutes on their independent reading level in a text of their choice. Often devoting this much time to "free" reading is deemed a luxury and therefore a loss of instructional time. Research, however, disproves this myth.

    Why SSR?

    • It addresses several learning standards in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
      • TEKS (Grades 9-12):

    (7) Reading/comprehension. The student comprehends selections using a variety of strategies. The student is expected to read silently with comprehension for a sustained period of time.

      • TEKS (Grade 9)

    (6)Reading/word identification/vocabulary development. The student uses a variety of strategies to read unfamiliar words and to build a vocabulary.

    The student is expected to:

    A) expand vocabulary through wide reading, listening, and discussing;

      • TEKS (Grades 10-12)

    6/7)Reading/word identification/vocabulary development. The student acquires an extensive vocabulary through reading and systematic word study. The student is expected to:

    A) expand vocabulary through wide reading, listening, and discussing;

      • TEKS (Grades 9-10)

    (8)Reading/variety of texts. The student reads extensively and intensively

    for different purposes in varied sources, including world literature.

    (9)Reading/culture. The student reads widely, including world literature, to increase knowledge of his/her own culture, the culture of others, and the common elements across cultures.

      • TEKS (Grade 11)

    (8)Reading/variety of texts. The student reads extensively and intensively

    for different purposes in varied sources, including American literature.

    (9)Reading/culture. The student reads widely, including American literature, to increase knowledge of his/her own culture, the culture of others, and the common elements across cultures.

      • TEKS (Grade 12)

    (9)Reading/variety of texts. The student reads extensively and intensively for different purposes in varied sources, including British literature, in increasingly demanding texts.

    (10)Reading/culture. The student reads widely, including British literature, to increase knowledge of his/her own culture, the culture of others, and the common elements across cultures.

    • Research supports SSR. Here are just a few points from Reading Reasons (2003) by Kelly Gallagher.


      • Reading Arms You Against Oppression

    "We are in the infancy of an information age, and weak readers will be left behind."

        • Reading trumps socioeconomic status as a predictor for success.

    --> Fourth grade reading scores determine allocation of funds for building future prison space.

      • Reading Prepares You for the World of Work

    Demands for 21st Century Work:

    "Hard" skills: basic mathematics, problem solving, and reading abilities at levels much higher than many high school graduates now attain

    "Soft" skills: the ability to work in groups and make effective oral and written presentations

    (A study conducted by: Levy & Murnane from Harvard Graduate School)

      • Reading Makes You Smarter

    "The quantity of books available is the best single predictor of test score

    performance and success in schools, and is a better predictor than

    socioeconomic status or parental education."

    (Paul, Terrence. Patterns of Reading Practice)

     

    AND Reading Keeps You Smart…

    Reading habits between the ages of six and eighteen appear to be crucial predictors of cognitive function decades later.

    (Dr. David Bennett, Chicago Rush University)

      • Reading Builds a Mature Vocabulary

    Some interesting statistics on the correlation between reading, standardized test results, AND the impact on personal vocabulary:

    Percentile Rank

    Minutes Read per Day

    Est. Words Read per Year

    98

    90.7

    4,733,000

    90

    40.4

    2,357,000

    70

    21.7

    1,168,000

    50

    12.9

    601,000

    20

    3.1

    134,000

    10

    1.6

    51,000

    Expanding vocabulary through reading happens in incremental exposure

    to a word; that is, a student has only a 5 to 20 percent chance of learning a new vocabulary word through one exposure, but Nagy’s research proves conclusively that as readers we acquire degrees of meaning with increased exposure to words. But, even a 5 percent chance of acquiring a new vocabulary from context with each exposure, the student who reads 1 million words a year, will gain about 1,000 new words a year.

    What will SSR Wednesdays look like?

    • Students selecting books on independent reading level* (library, in-class, from home)
    • Students reading books on independent level
    • Students reading a variety of texts
    • Students interacting with the text through follow-up activities
    • Students conferring with one another about their reading
    • Students conferring with their teacher about their reading
    • Teachers reading, conferring with students, and guiding students to know themselves as independent readers while encouraging them to read widely

    *Independent reading level: this is the level students "practice" their reading skills with optimum results. While reading at an easy level has specific benefits such as building fluency, it doesn’t provide the cognitive interaction required for comprehension when reading on an independent level. And, of course, reading at a frustrational level does just that: it frustrates the reader, leading to a break-down in comprehension and a negative interaction with the text.

    There is no magic formula that says all 10th graders, for example, will read at a certain independent reading level. Reading levels will vary by student and type of text. The rule of thumb is that the student comprehends 75 percent of the text. One quick check to match a student to his/her independent reading level is to open the chosen text somewhere in the middle and read a page. If the student does not understand five or more words, the book is most likely on his/her frustrational level, and, therefore, not a good match for independent reading. (Interest in a topic can trump this rule, but it applies much more frequently than not.)

    Here are some questions that can help guide students into choosing the texts that are “just right” (independent reading level) for them.

    1. Is this an interesting book/text that you want to read?
    2. Are you familiar with the content, author, series, genre?
    3. Can you tell another person what is happening in the story and/or what you are learning?
    4. Do you sometimes need to reread a part to understand it?
    5. Are there just a few words per page you don’t know?
    6. When you read are most places smooth and some choppy?

    If the answer is "yes" to these, then the book and reader are "just right" for each other.

    How can I support my child’s independent reading?

    • Talk to your child about what he/she is reading during SSR
    • Talk about books you like to read
    • Know your child’s independent reading level and help match him/her to texts
    • Encourage your child to read a variety of genres
    • Support your child’s interest in reading
    • Encourage your child to read at home
    • Ask your child’s teacher how you can best support SSR

    FINAL NOTE: Be assured that classroom instruction will present students with difficult and challenging texts. This is when teachers teach how to navigate new genres, unfamiliar words, and unexplored content. Read on their own, these texts would be frustrational. They are purposely taught whole class to provide the necessary instruction and support that leads to understanding. SSR provides the opportunity to practice these strategies without frustration. Both whole class instruction and SSR are essential to a student’s critical thinking growth.

    References

    Gallagher, K. (2003). Reading reasons. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.

    Marzano, R. J. (2004). Building background knowledge for academic achievement.

    Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

    Nagy, W.E. (2005). Promoting students’ vocabulary development: An overview.

    Seattle Pacific University.

    Routman, R. (2003). Reading essentials: The specifics you need to teach reading well.

    Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

    CLOSE