I. Teaching Reading Reading is a vital part of the education process because reading affects all areas of study. If students cannot read they are not going to experience success in school. I have two goals for my reading program. I want to develop a lifelong love of reading and develop reading proficiency in all students. I am realistic enough to know that not all students are going to love reading. This does not mean they cannot realize the value of reading and recognize the impact reading has on life after school. By becoming proficient readers, my second goal, students will be setting themselves up for success in the future. To reach my goals I must set up a program that is comfortable for both students and myself. My approach is that I need to teach students that reading is enjoyable and incredibly important for their future. Students will be surrounded with reading and given many opportunities to use their reading skills and improve those skills. A program consisting of reading aloud, instructional reading, and recreational reading will build the foundation necessary to produce proficient readers who actually enjoy reading. Reading aloud allows the students to see fluent, expressive reading modeled. Also, I can show my enthusiasm for reading by obviously enjoying what I am doing. If I am intentional, reading aloud meets many reading, and some communication, essential learnings. Comprehension, vocabulary, critical thinking, variety of literary experience, and developing interests and sharing reading experiences are just some areas reading aloud impacts. From my experience, it is clear that listening skills are lacking in students of all ages. Reading aloud is a perfect vehicle for teaching listening skills and listening for a purpose. The second component of a reading program is instructional reading. It is imperative that students realize that reading is comprehension. We read for a purpose - to understand and gain knowledge. Students need to be taught at their instructional level to develop comprehension skills and fluency. At the same time there still needs to be an emphasis on enjoying reading and having a positive attitude toward reading. Establishing a learning environment where students feel comfortable with where they are is the key. Reading is not a competition and students need to realize that we are not all at the same place and there is nothing wrong with that. In the instructional reading phase there needs to be an emphasis on fluency and developing vocabulary. Students will work on their fluency through oral reading including choral reading, reader's theater, partner reading, and others. In this phase word identification strategies are also taught. Ongoing assessment - whether in the form of IRI's, running records, anecdotal records, or some other form - is important in that students need to feel comfortable self-assessing as well as receiving feedback from me. Another part of instructional reading is developing comprehension. Students need to be taught to use knowledge they already have to aid comprehension. As a teacher it is my responsibility to add to that knowledge base by introducing new concepts, ideas, and perspectives. By doing so I expose students to new terms and concepts and aid them in developing meaning vocabulary. It also gives opportunity for meaningful discussions and critical thinking opportunities. Developing critical thinking is a must. Children are exposed to so much at such young ages with television, video, and the Internet. They need to be able to analyze what they are being told and make decisions. Children must have critical thinking skills to make those decisions. Again, assessment must be ongoing to ensure students are developing the vocabulary and thinking skills needed to be successful. Recreational reading is the third component I feel is necessary for a successful reading program. Recreational reading is so important because it allows students to take control of their reading. I believe students enjoy things more when they feel they are in control. In this area my role is to help students select materials that are right for them. I don't feel students should be limited in what they can choose from. By this I mean that magazines and newspapers as well as comic books and other forms of reading material are acceptable reading choices as long as the content is permissible and the item is at the students independent level. Easy access to reading materials is also important. A large classroom library with a variety of genres and range of reading levels is essential. Through read alouds, instructional reading, and recreational reading I believe I can hook students on reading. My overall goal is success for all students. By success I mean I want all students to develop an appreciation of reading and realize the impact reading can have on their lives. This in turn will lead to a desire for proficiency. We all wish for the best in life, reading could make that a reality instead of a wish.