What’s here? What am noticing?

Posted on June 15, 2017


Research Memo 3: “What happens when I make Independent Reading

a high priority in my classroom?”

I copy my three Daily Lesson documents, one for each trimester of ELA9, into one document and begin to brainstorm concepts and themes I’m interested in excavating for and wondering how I might locate data on those topics.

This is the document that contains the daily agenda, announcements, learning objectives, and other pertinent information. I project it on the screen at the front of the room. This year, I’ve made it even more complete than ones I’ve done in the past by providing live links to other resources directly in the document. Next year, I will make sure to post this document in the Google Classroom so that students will be able to find information themselves when they have been absent and need to know what work needs to be done to catch up in class.

I usually start with printed copies and use highlighters, pens, and post-it notes to annotate them, but today I’m going to use technology as a tool for analysis.

I open the document and start with a few keyword searches, noting the number of times a keyword appears, clicking through to some of the entries to see the context in which the word is used, wondering about themes and patterns…

It takes about an hour to gather the data from the searches, and I put it into tables…

Trimester 1 (98 pages)

Key Word # of times it appears I’m noticing
Book 126 “in-class” book or “at-home” book, book talk, book share, “What is the message in a book?” 1st mention 9/7:”Bring a book; always have a book with you in class.”
Read 213 First few mentions re: Cisneros’ “Eleven.” Then:

13 September 2016

Warm Up: 10 minutes silent reading from your book.

9/26 Read a banned book.

Reading Time.



81 Reading Time (many); quotes about reading; reading stamina introduced; reading community; 10/17 reading reflection; novel reading; reading goal
Independent reading 5 Book lists: finished & someday
Reading goal 3 Set; meet; reflect on
Homework 19 Many (most?) are reminders to read for 30 min/night; some homework is to write in notebook ABOUT reading: character desires, for example



As I look back at the first few days of the first trimester, “Unit 1: Launching the Writer’s Notebook,” I recall Nancie Atwell’s presentation at MCTE in October 2016. She said that 3 days of WW and 2 days of RW has always worked well. I wonder if it might work well to blend Units 1 & 2 together that way????

I’m also remembering how important student choice is. Although unit 1 is WW Narrative, narrative appears in many genres. I want to give students instruction on traditional narratives, but also introduce them to a number of genres that contain narrative and allow them to write the genre of their choice for the finished piece in unit 1.

Trimester 2 (115 pages)

Key Word # of appearances Comments
Book 46 At-home, in-class, what characters believe, perspective, No Spoilers Book Talk w/ partner (What kind of book is it? What do I think about the book?), reflection, # books read, read-aloud book (Woodson), What issues do your books explore?, Write from POV of character in book, What does a character believe?, books for Women’s Day, thesis about your at-home book.
Read 113 read for plot and meaning, read “The Jacket,” “Champion of the World” by Maya Angelou, “Salvation” by Langston Hughes, Read “The Practice of Slowing Down” by Phil Powers, “Resilience Is a Gift” by Joel Schmidt

re-read excerpt, Read the Anti-Bullying policy and Report Form, read to identify storyline and event sequence, read to identify claim and to connect evidence to claim, read to recognize writer’s moves,  2nd and 3rd draft reads, read-aloud




50 Reading advertisements, 3-Draft Reading process.


Independent reading 18  
Reading goal ? Reading Goals: Revisit December; Reflect; Set February Goals for breadth, depth, and stamina
Homework 7  

Trimester 3 (75 pages)

Key Word    
Book 24 5/9 READING TIME: Always have your book with you in class, finished book list, book choices, book you started yesterday, library book, ABC book,
Read 74  


Reader 12 decisions of two authors to portray the same topic and influence a reader, nonfiction readers, informational text readers, Research Question:

How am I developing fluency, stamina, range, and depth as a reader?

Independent reading 2  
Reading goal 0  
Homework 1 Spring Break Homework: READ! Develop your reading fluency, stamina, range, and depth!

Word Search Totals

Keyword # T1 # T2 #T3 Total #
Book 126 46 24 196
Read 213 113 74 400


81 50 39 170


  21 12 33
Independent reading 5 18 2 25
Reading goal 3 0 0 3
Homework 19 7 1 27

Initial Findings

Themes and patterns are beginning to emerge…I begin to notice the ways that each word is used in daily lessons and the layers of meaning “book” and “read” have.

I notice that linguistically, I really did make Independent Reading a high priority in my classroom:

  • by constantly reinforcing the idea with students and parents that the daily homework assignment is always 30 minutes of reading,
  • that students should always have books with them and be ready to read,
  • that reading is important enough to devote regular class time for doing it,
  • that readers can/should read more than one book at a time, reading for various purposes,
  • that reading is a passion of mine and a big part of my life,
  • that I’m excited to talk about books with students,
  • and that I’m excited to learn about their books and reading lives.


I definitely want to challenge the new students to beat the average # of books read this year. And the year after that to surpass next year’s average…and so on.

I wonder if any other teachers want to challenge their classes?

I wonder if any administrators would like to be challenged or if they’d do book talks?

I wonder if D will be in the library? (She was doing a tremendous job; I wonder how many books the 9th graders checked out. I’ll see if she has the number.)

I am excited about the possibilities for next year; now that I know the whole cycle of the curriculum, I can look for ways to strengthen the connections between units, emphasizing unifying elements while simultaneously increasing the range of my students’ reading and writing.

“What happens when I make Independent Reading a high priority in my classroom?”

READING becomes a main topic of classroom conversations, both formal and informal; it becomes the focus of lessons; time is set aside for it; and the emphasis I’ve put on reading shows in a linguistic analysis of my daily lesson plans.

This is the third in a series of Research Memos. You can find the others in links below:

#2 Organizing the Archive for Research

#1 Growing Readers–Through READING!