Ask the Literacy Teacher|
by Leigh Hall
Sustained Silent Reading
Please submit your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Literacy Teacher,
I'm a first year teacher (grade two) who is confused about the controversy related to the effectiveness of SSR (Sustained Silent Reading). In my readings I find "experts" on both sides. One says have the kids read, read, read. The other says SSR doesn't produce the results it's claimed to produce. Which, in your opinion, is correct?
The fact that you find experts on both sides should tell you that there probably isn't one correct answer. Instead of trying to determine if SSR is correct, let's look at it another way. First, what do you want SSR to achieve? Do you want your students to become more fluent readers and spend more time reading to themselves? Second, who are your students? Are they gifted, average, struggling to read, or a combination of all these things?
I think the first thing you have to do is determine what you want your students to get out of SSR. Decide how you want it to help them. This will probably not be the same for everyone. For example, you may want one of your more reluctant readers to simply spend fifteen minutes reading the same book while you may want a second student to choose books that are more challenging. Determine who your readers are and what you want SSR to do for them.
When you read books and articles on SSR pay close attention to who they are written for. If someone claims that SSR does not produce the results it is supposed to, think about the population of students that they sampled from. Does this population of students match the ones you teach? If so, the recommendations may apply. If not, you may want to consider the recommendations but take into account other things you have read as well. This also applies to research that claims SSR is effective. If you find research to be contradicting you may find that researchers disagree on the population of students that SSR works for and how it helps them.
The SSR Handbook: How to Organize and Manage a Sustained Silent Reading Program
by Janice L. Pilgreen, Stephen D. Krashen
Past Gazette Articles by Leigh Hall