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Karin Stefans Honors Project December 15, 2009 According to my survey, fifth grade students at Jeffery Elementary seem to think

that overall they are good readers (average student response: 3.9 on Likert scale) . Although I did not test the students to see if they are accurate in their self-assessment, Jeffery Elementary’s 2007-2008 report card stated that the school has made adequate yearly progress in reading for 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, and 2007-08. Therefore, the state of fifth-grade reading ability is not dire; my concern is that students did not report as much enjoyment of reading as I think they should, and that male students’ enjoyment of reading seems especially low (ave. student: 3.4, ave. male: 2.9). Furthermore, reading is low on the list of favorite subjects, especially for males (students reporting reading as a favorite subject: 6.2%, male: 3.7%). While it is true that when students were allowed to list more than one favorite subject, more students included reading as a favorite (students: 18.5%, males: 11%), it appears that not many students like reading in school. However, it is important to note that a student’s favorite subject need not be reading for the student to enjoy reading. When asked what they choose to do in their free time, 33% of males, 55% of females, and 46% of total students included reading in their response. I believe that it is more important for students to enjoy free-choice reading than it is for students to pick reading as their favorite topic, but I would like to see more students than only 46% choosing to read in their free time. As teachers, our job is to increase these percentages, especially the percentages that indicate the lack of reading interest in boys. A way to improve the way students view reading is to connect reading with other subjects that they already enjoy. For example, 48.1% of boys surveyed reported that gym is their favorite

subject, and almost all students reported that they like to play sports . On this interest survey, the statement “I like to play sports” resulted in the highest average of student agreement of any other category (ave. student: 4.4). These data could form the basis for an argument for more kinesthetic learning; since so many students enjoy gym and playing sports, many students could process bodily-kinesthetic intelligence and learning preferences. Perhaps students could act out the scenes in the books that they are reading, or learn a game described in a novel in order to connect the text with their preferences. Simply moving around the class could possibly have significant effects on student enjoyment of reading in the classroom. In my field experience, I found that merely telling students that we were going to play a game, and any opportunity to get out of their seats, was met with great enthusiasm. The statement “I like to draw or do art” was met with the second highest average of student agreement (ave. student: 4.3, ave. male: 3.9, ave. female: 4.5). Incorporating art and reading could prove to be a great way to increase student interest in reading, and there are many ways to connect reading and art. Students could draw characters, scenes in books, or even illustrate an entire short story. It seems plausible that students who like art are visual preference learners, since artistic ability is a characteristic of spatial intelligence. Creating artwork to go with books could help students learn to visualize books, and for visual learners, this could lead to more enjoyment of reading. The statement that tied its average score with “I like to draw or do art” was “I like to hang out with friends” (ave. student: 4.3, ave. male: 4.0, ave. female: 4.4). Since students like to spend time with their friends so much, group work and group activities could increase the enjoyment of reading. My clinical class was a very talkative class, and they had some very good discussions,

and really enjoyed it when they could talk to their groups or friends about what we were learning in class. After students learn to enjoy reading in the classroom, they will be more inclined to take a book home to read in their spare time. Once teachers have fostered a love of reading, we must help it to continue by providing students with interesting books that they want to read. I was surprised to find that peer recommendations of books did not encourage students to read very much (ave. student, male, and female: 3.3). In fact, for boys, teacher recommendations might be more useful than peer recommendations, since the average male response statement 4 was 3.7. Therefore, teachers should make themselves as well versed in children’s literature as possible so that they can make personal book recommendations for their students. Hopefully by increasing reading enjoyment in school, students will become real readers and will want to read as much as possible. I found one response on the survey very encouraging. The student wrote: “I often read books more for fun, but usually I start out getting a library book and keep reading it, and sometimes I forget I got it for AR.” I hope that all students can experience the joy of reading, and that their teachers will help them along the way.