Believe me, my children have more stamina than a power station.-Robbie Coltrane
Building stamina in young readers is definitely a challenge. Their attention spans are short and their energy level is high. It is important to know children well enough to link each of them to the texts that will sustain their interest, and won’t be so challenging they get discouraged. Every good English language arts teacher knows that immersing students in reading is far more important than teaching test-taking strategies. Many are also familiar with some of the techniques for helping their students monitor their reading throughout a reading task. Some use specific lessons and strategies for helping students maintain focus and gain stamina as they read, but finding the best lessons and other resources for teaching such skills is often time-consuming and difficult, requiring more hours than teachers have for seeking out new material.
Using iPads has helped increase my students’ stamina even during the short 57 days we’ve been in school. As students build confidence in reading short, leveled texts, they are more likely to venture into more difficult texts. I use LAZ leveled reader apps and my own texts that I’ve created in iBooks Author to supplement the reading materials in class. As students have a few minutes of free time, or they are in the book center, they have high interest texts to choose from on their iPads. Having these books at their fingertips makes it easy for anytime reading. Re-reading familiar texts also increases their fluency.
Another way to use iPads in building stamina is to celebrate progress. Without getting too caught up on the number of minutes spent reading, celebrate the time that is spent reading. Share your favorite parts of books read by reading out loud with a partner on the iPad. Illustrate your favorite parts in the Pages app and share with your writing group.
Spending longer periods of time reading means fewer interruptions and more time reading what you love. iPads provide resources beyond your regular classroom materials to facilitate this. As your students move into higher grades, having reading stamina will help them navigate the longer texts and assignments.
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