FAQ: How do you motivate readers to grow their stamina?
ANSWER: During the first few weeks of school, focus on building reading stamina with your students as they learn to work independently within a literacy station.
The key is to start small. Initially, make three minutes the goal. Give students a focused task or behavior to maintain for three minutes. (A typical station to start with is the Classroom Library.)
When a student breaks procedure, then stop the entire group immediately. First, praise students for any amount of time they were able to stay focused. Next, reiterate and refine the procedures. Then, restart the timer for another round of practice.
NOTE: Build students’ stamina to work independently on one activity/at one station before you introduce a new one.
Grow reader stamina bit by bit until they achieve the desired number of minutes. Suggested goals include:
- Kindergarten–7-8 minutes
- Primary–10-12 minutes
- Intermediate–12-14 minutes
Draw steps on a whiteboard or chart paper, labeling each step with a different increment of minutes. As students are able to work longer and longer, the teacher moves the “frog” up the steps to track students’ growing stamina.
Incorporate math skills with a bar graph. Color in the boxes that represent how many minutes students read or worked independently after each practice session. (You may want to use one chart for the whole class and/or have students track the data on individual charts to store within their Reader’s Response Journals.)
Project the Reading Stamina Timer. Click “run the slideshow” when you are ready for students to work independently. With a quick glance at the board, students can see how many minutes they have been working. This allows them to celebrate the growing number of minutes they were all able to stay on task. These PowerPoints are available for FREE at the Smekens Education Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Building students’ stamina can take weeks–but remember the bigger picture. Once students are able to work independently for longer chunks of time, the teacher is free to confer with individuals, meet with small groups, and administer one-on-one assessments, etc.
Watch a FREE 4-minute preview of Kristi McCullough’s Literacy Station Launch #1: Using the Classroom Library to Build Stamina (K-5).