Strategy

Sustained Silent Reading

Drop Everything And Read (DEAR), Daily Independent Reading Time (DIRT), Independent Reading, Silent Reading

Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) is a dedicated block of class time (e.g. 20 minutes) in which students independently and quietly read a book of their choice in order to develop reading comprehension strategies and explore a variety of reading materials. SSR occurs routinely and consistently in the classroom (e.g. daily after lunch) to promote the habit of regular and recreational reading. Throughout the year, teachers coach students how to choose reading material that is appropriate for their reading level and appeals to their interests. Outside of SSR, teachers also provide explicit instruction on comprehension strategies and tools (e.g. decoding) that students can then independently apply to SSR to monitor and regulate their own understanding of their book. SSR supports a student’s growth as a reader by building vocabulary, allowing for comprehension, and providing dedicated reading time on a consistent basis.

Implementation Tips

Reading Schedule
Maintain a consistent SSR schedule (e.g. 20-25 minutes, every Tuesday and Thursday morning) so that students are prepared with their personal books for dedicated SSR time. Students should know which days and times to expect SSR. Commit to the schedule all year long to reinforce the importance of reading.
Clear Expectations
Establish the expected behaviors (e.g. no talking, stay focused) during this dedicated reading time to support each student’s ability to read without distraction. Create a structured reading environment requiring that students read personally-chosen books. Ensure that students do not use SSR as study hall or time to complete other classwork.
Teacher's Role in SSR
Confer with students on selecting books appropriate to their reading level. Have students maintain a log to track book choice and completion dates, and discuss this periodically with the student. Model appropriate reading behavior during this time, rather than using it as a time to plan or grade papers.
Reading for Engagement
Help students choose reading materials that are engaging. Show students how to determine if a book may be interesting before reading (e.g. exploring the cover and illustrations). Teach strategies to determine when to switch books (e.g. read at least a chapter or 5-10 minutes) if it is not interesting.
Extend Learning Through Writing or Art
Extend students’ comprehension into opportunities for written or artistic expression (e.g. journal, book projects) as follow-up assessments to track students’ understanding and progress. Develop generic prompts (e.g. Describe your main character in three words.) that students can informally respond to as a transition from SSR to others class activities.
Discussion Opportunities
Divide the class into small groups to periodically discuss their different books after SSR. Provide students with a focus question (e.g. *“Would you recommend this book? Explain.”*) to guide the oral conversations. These peer conference opportunities extend the student’s thinking about their book and provide exposure to diverse books.
Classroom Library
Develop a classroom library of fiction and nonfiction texts for students to use if they do not come to class prepared with a personal book. Include diverse genres and subject matter and books of varying reading abilities. Ask for donations from the school community (e.g. library, parent association, etc.).
Reading in Comfort
Allow students to read in a comfortable space and position. Students may read in bean bag chairs, using pillows, or laying on the carpet if the classroom space permits. This helps to reinforce the idea that reading time is relaxing and engaging.

Examples

Personal Reading Time
During the first 20 minutes of every class period on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the entire classroom silently reads. As soon as the bell rings, SSR begins without the distraction of any instructions or other classwork. At the end of SSR, the teacher spends 1-2 minutes checking in with her students (e.g. *“Who is reading a book they think I’d love?”* or *“Anybody struggling to finish a bad book?”*). This informal conversation allows students to share information on their books, enables the teacher to gauge student interest, and provides a transition to the rest of the class period’s instruction.
Intervention
During SSR, a teacher observes a student who is laying her head down and falling asleep with her book closed. After providing appropriate classroom management interventions, the teacher meets one-on-one with the student to problem solve her behavior during SSR. When the teacher asks simple questions (e.g. *“Who is the main character?”*), the student is unable to answer, demonstrating that she is not comprehending or connecting to her book choice. The teacher coaches the student how to find high-interest books for SSR by discussing her interests (e.g. lacrosse) and redirecting her to nonfiction books (e.g. female athletes).
SSR in Science
In a 7th Grade Science class, the teacher scheduled SSR every Friday. Students choose from a variety of nonfiction and fiction resources in the classroom library that include content related to their curriculum (e.g. ecosystems and habitats). During the last month of school, students choose a partner and select the same book to read during SSR. The science teacher provides guiding questions to structure the partner book club (e.g. *“What information surprised you?”*). After completing the book, the partners write a joint book review to be posted in the classroom library for next year’s students.

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