One of my favorite children’s books is the classic story by Ruth Krauss – The Carrot Seed. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the story of a boy who plants a seed in the ground.
“Every day the little boy pulled up the weeds around the seed and sprinkled the ground with water.”
And every day, his mother, father and brother tell him that the seed won’t come up. But still, he keeps on watering, pulling and sprinkling, day after day.
Let’s think about our students for a moment, in respect to independent reading. Independent reading is the “seed” getting ready to grow.
Will it happen overnight? Will they read successfully (and with independence) for 15 minutes on day two?
Of course not.
When we introduce independent reading on the first day, this is just the seed, burrowing in the soil, forming roots, finding a home.
What next? We model the behaviors that we want, create an anchor chart and give our students a chance. Maybe they only read with success for 2 minutes that first day, possibly even less. That’s okay. We know that the seed is there, forming roots, ready to grow, AS LONG AS WE KEEP TENDING TO IT.
How do we do that? By revisiting our routine the next day, giving the students a chance to continue to build stamina over time.
Some days, the plants might look wilted, so adjust as necessary.
Maybe you put them by the window for some sun or add some water. Prune off dead leaves and watch them spring back to life.
In the classroom, our water, sun and food can come in many forms. Maybe it’s revisiting and/or revising an anchor chart or share successes/challenges at the end of independent reading time. Or, it might be sitting down one on one with a student to give specific praise and feedback. Just the burst of sun that he/she might need. It also might be letting a student sit in a different spot that day. Sometimes getting comfy and cozy can work wonders…
You know best what your own students need so be patient and keep at it: watering, sprinkling, pulling, watering again, until one day…
They come up.
P.S. Please leave a comment about the “water, sun and food” that you leave in your own classroom so we can share ideas. Let’s work together to help all of our students “come up!”
Also, if you haven’t read this story, grab a copy today. It’s a fast read and has such a powerful message, not only about independent reading but anything that requires hard work and effort.