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Re: Learner Autonomy and Extensive Reading

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  • Andrew O'Brien
    Dear Glenski, Thank you for your compliments, and… Good questions! My response turned out to be pretty long, so I ve grouped my answers with the relevant
    Message 1 of 12 , Sep 13, 2012
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      Dear Glenski,

      Thank you for your compliments, and…

      Good questions! My response turned out to be pretty long, so I've grouped my answers with the relevant questions (not quite in your original order).
      ______________________________________________________________________________________

      1) How do you introduce ER to the students (and continue to help them understand its concepts)?
      2) How do students know what an "appropriate level" is for them?
      4) With no testing or book reports, how are students "required" to read anything? I am guessing a certain part of their grade is based on the diary, which also makes me wonder whether they really read the books.
      ______________________________________________________________________________________

      First, I ask the new group of students (usually junior high school 3rd years, or high school 1st years) if they have ever read any books in English. If they have, we chat a little about their experiences. Sometimes, though, they haven't (or for whatever reason, don't want to mention it). Either way, I tell them that they will, henceforth, have the chance to start reading in English.

      Next, I give each group of students a little guided tour of the library, point out and explain the various signs designating levels and categories of books (examples of categories include "Books with CDs", "Non-Fiction", "Short Stories", "Plays", etc.). Usually, even before I finish explaining everything, students are already trying to touch and look through the books. I let them loose and give them as much time as I can to just browse and feel their way around the layout. At some point, I ask them to start sampling books from various levels, from EPER G on up, ultimately looking for a level that they feel most comfortable/enjoyable. Once they find a book that they can't live without, or more ideally, one that is a little below their actual level (specifically something they can completely or nearly completely understand without struggle and without a dictionary), I ask them to take it to back to the classroom to read. Sometimes some students find something so fast that they just sit down on one of the benches in the library and start reading while they wait for their friends to make their choices.

      Back in the classroom, I let the students finish their first books, give them an opportunity to talk about the stories and experiences with each other, and then give them the chance to exchange books, or return and borrow new books to be read by the following week.

      In the following week I do some sort of short follow-up or brief warm-up where the students again have the chance to talk about their books. I generally let the students speak in Japanese with each other (they are usually Junior High 3rd year students) and help keep the dialogs focused by interjecting some of my own questions and comments (usually in English).

      At some point in the first or second week, I pass out and help them get set up with the "My Reading" log sheets, and tell them that the school would like them to read a book a week (they are used to being expected to read at our school – they have daily reading time every morning, and most students have a journal or log book for recording all Japanese books read). Every year, there are a couple of kids who grumble, but I remind them that my main wish is that they are reading for pleasure, so at their levels (most Junior 3rd years start with EPER level G), this typically equates to 10-20 per week. The students seem to be content with this, and rarely do I get a student who persists with an openly negative attitude.

      I tell the students that I will not check their reading logs every week, but that I will periodically/randomly ask them to show me their progress, at which time I will make some comments or give feedback/guidance. This next statement may be considered dishonest by some, but I avoid talking about the value of the assignment. However, if it does come up, I let them know that their effort contributes very slightly toward their Participation grade, which is only 5% of their total term score. I can usually tell when students are bluffing on their reading sheets (and there are always some that do), but it is worth so little that I don't make too big of a deal out of it. Though, if I catch them in the act, they are of course given a mild reprimanding. More often, however, and this is something that never fails to baffle me here in Japan, rather than bluff, students will just apologize and admit that they haven't been reading as much as they should, etc.

      ______________________________________________________________________________________

      3) When you say a "decent amount of students (will always wish for more) reading for pleasure, reading across various genres, and usually reading at 'appropriate' levels", can you define that amount of students, both in number and percentage?
      ______________________________________________________________________________________

      My apologies, but I wrote that statement perhaps a bit too casually based on overheard conversations, and observations of the students when they borrow, return or exchange books. Since I don't record this sort of data, any number I would give you probably wouldn't be credible. However, rather than say a "decent amount of students", I might (tentatively) reword it to say very roughly the "majority" of students…Almost definitely more than half, and probably less than three-fourths, would be doing all three of the following: "reading for pleasure, reading across various genres, and reading at 'appropriate' levels".

      I hope I've answered your questions well, but definitely let me know if I've missed anything, or if I can clarify anything further.

      Best regards,
      Andrew


      --- In ExtensiveReading@yahoogroups.com, Glen Hill <glenahill@...> wrote:
      >
      > Simon,
      > Just curious about a few points on your rather unique and seemingly
      > successful system. (Good job, by the way.)
      >
      > 1) How do you introduce ER to the students (and continue to help them
      > understand its concepts)?
      >
      > 2) How do students know what an "appropriate level" is for them?
      >
      > 3) When you say a "decent amount of students (will always wish for more)
      > reading for pleasure, reading across various genres, and usually reading at
      > 'appropriate' levels", can you define that amount of students, both in
      > number and percentage?
      >
      > 4) With no testing or book reports, how are students "required" to read
      > anything? I am guessing a certain part of their grade is based on the
      > diary, which also makes me wonder whether they really read the books.
      >
      > Many thanks in return.
      > Glenski, always looking to improve his own system
    • Glen Hill
      Thanks for taking the time to answer in such detail, Andrew. Just a couple of follow-up questions. (It sounds like you have some real eager kids, an anomaly
      Message 2 of 12 , Sep 14, 2012
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        Thanks for taking the time to answer in such detail, Andrew.  Just a couple of follow-up questions. (It sounds like you have some real eager kids, an anomaly as far as I know.)

        1. What percentage listen to the audio materials that come with some books? Have they said anything about such materials, good or bad?

        2. After the junior high student year is up, what change, if any, do you see in the HS kids with regard to reading (amount, enthusiasm, whatever)?

        Thanks again in advance.
        Glenski



        On Fri, Sep 14, 2012 at 12:36 PM, Andrew O'Brien <simon.obrien@...> wrote:
         

        Dear Glenski,

        Thank you for your compliments, and…

        Good questions! My response turned out to be pretty long, so I've grouped my answers with the relevant questions (not quite in your original order).
        __________________________________________________________



        1) How do you introduce ER to the students (and continue to help them understand its concepts)?
        2) How do students know what an "appropriate level" is for them?
        4) With no testing or book reports, how are students "required" to read anything? I am guessing a certain part of their grade is based on the diary, which also makes me wonder whether they really read the books.
        __________________________________________________________

        First, I ask the new group of students (usually junior high school 3rd years, or high school 1st years) if they have ever read any books in English. If they have, we chat a little about their experiences. Sometimes, though, they haven't (or for whatever reason, don't want to mention it). Either way, I tell them that they will, henceforth, have the chance to start reading in English.

        Next, I give each group of students a little guided tour of the library, point out and explain the various signs designating levels and categories of books (examples of categories include "Books with CDs", "Non-Fiction", "Short Stories", "Plays", etc.). Usually, even before I finish explaining everything, students are already trying to touch and look through the books. I let them loose and give them as much time as I can to just browse and feel their way around the layout. At some point, I ask them to start sampling books from various levels, from EPER G on up, ultimately looking for a level that they feel most comfortable/enjoyable. Once they find a book that they can't live without, or more ideally, one that is a little below their actual level (specifically something they can completely or nearly completely understand without struggle and without a dictionary), I ask them to take it to back to the classroom to read. Sometimes some students find something so fast that they just sit down on one of the benches in the library and start reading while they wait for their friends to make their choices.

        Back in the classroom, I let the students finish their first books, give them an opportunity to talk about the stories and experiences with each other, and then give them the chance to exchange books, or return and borrow new books to be read by the following week.

        In the following week I do some sort of short follow-up or brief warm-up where the students again have the chance to talk about their books. I generally let the students speak in Japanese with each other (they are usually Junior High 3rd year students) and help keep the dialogs focused by interjecting some of my own questions and comments (usually in English).

        At some point in the first or second week, I pass out and help them get set up with the "My Reading" log sheets, and tell them that the school would like them to read a book a week (they are used to being expected to read at our school – they have daily reading time every morning, and most students have a journal or log book for recording all Japanese books read). Every year, there are a couple of kids who grumble, but I remind them that my main wish is that they are reading for pleasure, so at their levels (most Junior 3rd years start with EPER level G), this typically equates to 10-20 per week. The students seem to be content with this, and rarely do I get a student who persists with an openly negative attitude.

        I tell the students that I will not check their reading logs every week, but that I will periodically/randomly ask them to show me their progress, at which time I will make some comments or give feedback/guidance. This next statement may be considered dishonest by some, but I avoid talking about the value of the assignment. However, if it does come up, I let them know that their effort contributes very slightly toward their Participation grade, which is only 5% of their total term score. I can usually tell when students are bluffing on their reading sheets (and there are always some that do), but it is worth so little that I don't make too big of a deal out of it. Though, if I catch them in the act, they are of course given a mild reprimanding. More often, however, and this is something that never fails to baffle me here in Japan, rather than bluff, students will just apologize and admit that they haven't been reading as much as they should, etc.

        __________________________________________________________


        3) When you say a "decent amount of students (will always wish for more) reading for pleasure, reading across various genres, and usually reading at 'appropriate' levels", can you define that amount of students, both in number and percentage?
        __________________________________________________________

        My apologies, but I wrote that statement perhaps a bit too casually based on overheard conversations, and observations of the students when they borrow, return or exchange books. Since I don't record this sort of data, any number I would give you probably wouldn't be credible. However, rather than say a "decent amount of students", I might (tentatively) reword it to say very roughly the "majority" of students…Almost definitely more than half, and probably less than three-fourths, would be doing all three of the following: "reading for pleasure, reading across various genres, and reading at 'appropriate' levels".

        I hope I've answered your questions well, but definitely let me know if I've missed anything, or if I can clarify anything further.

        Best regards,
        Andrew


        --- In ExtensiveReading@yahoogroups.com, Glen Hill <glenahill@...> wrote:
        >
        > Simon,
        > Just curious about a few points on your rather unique and seemingly
        > successful system. (Good job, by the way.)
        >
        > 1) How do you introduce ER to the students (and continue to help them
        > understand its concepts)?
        >
        > 2) How do students know what an "appropriate level" is for them?
        >
        > 3) When you say a "decent amount of students (will always wish for more)
        > reading for pleasure, reading across various genres, and usually reading at
        > 'appropriate' levels", can you define that amount of students, both in
        > number and percentage?
        >
        > 4) With no testing or book reports, how are students "required" to read
        > anything? I am guessing a certain part of their grade is based on the
        > diary, which also makes me wonder whether they really read the books.
        >
        > Many thanks in return.
        > Glenski, always looking to improve his own system


      • Andrew O'Brien
        Good morning! Sorry for the slow reply. I have to go teach in a few minutes, but I think I can answer your questions now: 1. To preface, I have a SLOWLY
        Message 3 of 12 , Sep 19, 2012
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          Good morning!

          Sorry for the slow reply. I have to go teach in a few minutes, but I think I can answer your questions now:

          1. To preface, I have a SLOWLY growing selection of books with CDs across EPER levels G-C (the books with CDs are expensive so I'm adding only a little at a time). That being said, despite some variety of genre and level, very few students choose the books with CDs. I've asked around. Some students don't like the lower level CDs because the readings are too slow or boring/dry. Some students can't keep up with the CDs (especially students who read at level D). Most students seem to be hesitant/afraid to take a book with a CD, for reasons I don't know.

          2. I don't see much change between the average jr. and sr. high students. That being said, some students really seem to accelerate- these seem to be the students who are most diligent about reading extensively. The average student seems to be content with enjoying an easy read 10 times a term.

          Sorry for the brief reply, but I've got to run.

          -Andrew




          --- In ExtensiveReading@yahoogroups.com, Glen Hill <glenahill@...> wrote:
          >
          > Thanks for taking the time to answer in such detail, Andrew. Just a couple
          > of follow-up questions. (It sounds like you have some real eager kids, an
          > anomaly as far as I know.)
          >
          > 1. What percentage listen to the audio materials that come with some books?
          > Have they said anything about such materials, good or bad?
          >
          > 2. After the junior high student year is up, what change, if any, do you
          > see in the HS kids with regard to reading (amount, enthusiasm, whatever)?
          >
          > Thanks again in advance.
          > Glenski
          >
          >
          >
          > On Fri, Sep 14, 2012 at 12:36 PM, Andrew O'Brien <simon.obrien@...>wrote:
          >
          > > **
          > >
          > >
          > > Dear Glenski,
          > >
          > > Thank you for your compliments, and…
          > >
          > > Good questions! My response turned out to be pretty long, so I've grouped
          > > my answers with the relevant questions (not quite in your original order).
          > > __________________________________________________________
          > >
          > >
          > > 1) How do you introduce ER to the students (and continue to help them
          > > understand its concepts)?
          > > 2) How do students know what an "appropriate level" is for them?
          > > 4) With no testing or book reports, how are students "required" to read
          > > anything? I am guessing a certain part of their grade is based on the
          > > diary, which also makes me wonder whether they really read the books.
          > > __________________________________________________________
          > >
          > > First, I ask the new group of students (usually junior high school 3rd
          > > years, or high school 1st years) if they have ever read any books in
          > > English. If they have, we chat a little about their experiences. Sometimes,
          > > though, they haven't (or for whatever reason, don't want to mention it).
          > > Either way, I tell them that they will, henceforth, have the chance to
          > > start reading in English.
          > >
          > > Next, I give each group of students a little guided tour of the library,
          > > point out and explain the various signs designating levels and categories
          > > of books (examples of categories include "Books with CDs", "Non-Fiction",
          > > "Short Stories", "Plays", etc.). Usually, even before I finish explaining
          > > everything, students are already trying to touch and look through the
          > > books. I let them loose and give them as much time as I can to just browse
          > > and feel their way around the layout. At some point, I ask them to start
          > > sampling books from various levels, from EPER G on up, ultimately looking
          > > for a level that they feel most comfortable/enjoyable. Once they find a
          > > book that they can't live without, or more ideally, one that is a little
          > > below their actual level (specifically something they can completely or
          > > nearly completely understand without struggle and without a dictionary), I
          > > ask them to take it to back to the classroom to read. Sometimes some
          > > students find something so fast that they just sit down on one of the
          > > benches in the library and start reading while they wait for their friends
          > > to make their choices.
          > >
          > > Back in the classroom, I let the students finish their first books, give
          > > them an opportunity to talk about the stories and experiences with each
          > > other, and then give them the chance to exchange books, or return and
          > > borrow new books to be read by the following week.
          > >
          > > In the following week I do some sort of short follow-up or brief warm-up
          > > where the students again have the chance to talk about their books. I
          > > generally let the students speak in Japanese with each other (they are
          > > usually Junior High 3rd year students) and help keep the dialogs focused by
          > > interjecting some of my own questions and comments (usually in English).
          > >
          > > At some point in the first or second week, I pass out and help them get
          > > set up with the "My Reading" log sheets, and tell them that the school
          > > would like them to read a book a week (they are used to being expected to
          > > read at our school – they have daily reading time every morning, and most
          > > students have a journal or log book for recording all Japanese books read).
          > > Every year, there are a couple of kids who grumble, but I remind them that
          > > my main wish is that they are reading for pleasure, so at their levels
          > > (most Junior 3rd years start with EPER level G), this typically equates to
          > > 10-20 per week. The students seem to be content with this, and rarely do I
          > > get a student who persists with an openly negative attitude.
          > >
          > > I tell the students that I will not check their reading logs every week,
          > > but that I will periodically/randomly ask them to show me their progress,
          > > at which time I will make some comments or give feedback/guidance. This
          > > next statement may be considered dishonest by some, but I avoid talking
          > > about the value of the assignment. However, if it does come up, I let them
          > > know that their effort contributes very slightly toward their Participation
          > > grade, which is only 5% of their total term score. I can usually tell when
          > > students are bluffing on their reading sheets (and there are always some
          > > that do), but it is worth so little that I don't make too big of a deal out
          > > of it. Though, if I catch them in the act, they are of course given a mild
          > > reprimanding. More often, however, and this is something that never fails
          > > to baffle me here in Japan, rather than bluff, students will just apologize
          > > and admit that they haven't been reading as much as they should, etc.
          > >
          > > __________________________________________________________
          > >
          > >
          > > 3) When you say a "decent amount of students (will always wish for more)
          > > reading for pleasure, reading across various genres, and usually reading at
          > > 'appropriate' levels", can you define that amount of students, both in
          > > number and percentage?
          > > __________________________________________________________
          > >
          > > My apologies, but I wrote that statement perhaps a bit too casually based
          > > on overheard conversations, and observations of the students when they
          > > borrow, return or exchange books. Since I don't record this sort of data,
          > > any number I would give you probably wouldn't be credible. However, rather
          > > than say a "decent amount of students", I might (tentatively) reword it to
          > > say very roughly the "majority" of students…Almost definitely more than
          > > half, and probably less than three-fourths, would be doing all three of the
          > > following: "reading for pleasure, reading across various genres, and
          > > reading at 'appropriate' levels".
          > >
          > > I hope I've answered your questions well, but definitely let me know if
          > > I've missed anything, or if I can clarify anything further.
          > >
          > > Best regards,
          > > Andrew
          > >
          > >
          > > --- In ExtensiveReading@yahoogroups.com, Glen Hill <glenahill@> wrote:
          > > >
          > > > Simon,
          > > > Just curious about a few points on your rather unique and seemingly
          > > > successful system. (Good job, by the way.)
          > > >
          > > > 1) How do you introduce ER to the students (and continue to help them
          > > > understand its concepts)?
          > > >
          > > > 2) How do students know what an "appropriate level" is for them?
          > > >
          > > > 3) When you say a "decent amount of students (will always wish for more)
          > > > reading for pleasure, reading across various genres, and usually reading
          > > at
          > > > 'appropriate' levels", can you define that amount of students, both in
          > > > number and percentage?
          > > >
          > > > 4) With no testing or book reports, how are students "required" to read
          > > > anything? I am guessing a certain part of their grade is based on the
          > > > diary, which also makes me wonder whether they really read the books.
          > > >
          > > > Many thanks in return.
          > > > Glenski, always looking to improve his own system
          > >
          > >
          > >
          >
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