#edread or “e-dread”?


Maybe the key to getting a good discussion going on Twitter is picking the right hash tag? Perhaps others are misreading #edread as “e-dread” as Steve Gillott (@stevegillott) so comically put it.  #e-dread could be used as a hash tag to describe a student’s feelings about reading or even some teachers’ feelings about teaching! Whether the hash tag is clear or not, there has been more activity this week with some great ideas and resources shared.

Remember you can read all the tweets here and any and all resources, websites etc that have been shared have been compiled here.  Thanks to everyone that has contributed so far, please keep the tweets coming!

This weeks tweets:

#edread – An Update! (Spring Is In The Air)


The #edread discussion continues to blossom and has now (through some pro-activity) begun to bear fruit in school.  Not being one to wait for the discussion to have fully formed, I began sharing links and ideas that had been tweeted with my colleagues straight away.  I also shared a reading lesson that I had completed spontaneously the other week (read the blog post about it here).  Three other teacher followed my lead and did a similar lesson with their classes!

The outcome of the e-mails, sharing of links and ideas, and my constant chatter about reading resulted in a meeting between our Learning Research Centre manager (Andrea), a colleague (Jo) who has responsibility within English for Years 7 and 8 and I.  The purpose? To evaluate and improve the KS3 reading program and to look into ideas that can raise the profile of reading amongst KS4 students.

I came away from the meting truly inspired – both by the range of ideas that came out of it but also by the fact that a key component in this discussion had been the resources and ideas that had been shared by my Twitter PLN.  Crowdsourcing really is one of the most effective techniques to aid learning – Twitter simply makes it better by broadening the field.

From the meeting we have agreed to look in to / develop the following ideas:

For the last few years, at KS3, each class has had a weekly reading lesson. This year we introduced “shared reading” however I don’t feel that it was fully thought through.  The main problem being that the books we have to use have been around for some time and are not very appealing to our students.  Solution?  Andrea and Jo are going to research and compile a list of books that we could purchase (probably 6 copies of each) to use in reading lessons.  These are going to be new books, for different ability levels, by authors that are popular amongst 11-14 year olds; including graphic novels, comics, short stories, non-fiction texts and much more.  We agreed that “shared reading” was a good idea but that it would work better if we had more appealing texts and we could break the classes up into a wider range of groups.  I am sure that if we focus on variety and give the students more choice the shared reading experience will be far more effective.

This led on to a discussion about bringing the students into the LRC for their reading lessons.  As I mentioned earlier a few teachers have already followed my lead with this idea.  The English department used to do this regularly but it seems to have stopped happening.  Andrea the LRC manager wants it to become a more regular event (not just for English either).  We agreed that perhaps there should be a rota and that the students could be given a break from their “shared reading” lessons every 4/5 weeks by being brought into the LRC to explore the environment and to read whatever they want for pure pleasure.

As the meeting progressed I raised the idea of students “reviewing and recommending” books.  I suggested that recommendations or new-arrivals could be displayed on the computer screens when students log-in.  We also discussed setting up a LRC Blog so that Andrea could communicate with students and parents about what is happening in the LRC each term.  Students could review and recommend books on it and special events could be promoted.  This could be supported by more traditional methods like a notice board with reviews of books or recommendation slips stuck inside books by students when they return them after reading.

At KS4 Andrea suggested that we look at creating “reading lists” from curriculum areas.  This may work for KS4 students – if they have a passion for a subject they may choose to read more about it.  Wider reading is something that many of my KS5 students struggle with so introducing it at KS4 in an optional capacity may go someway to not only improving reading participation at KS4 but in turn help set expectations over reading at KS5.

We also discussed “Book Swap” which has already begun with Years 7 and 8 but I feel should be a school wide scheme.  I believe that if this is done right it can significantly raise the profile of reading around the school.  I am planning to do a “book-drive” to get teachers, parents and students to donate books to get the “Book Swap” off on the right foot.  I also wish for the “Book Swap” events to be organised by KS4/5 students – this will hopefully generate more interest if it is being promoted by students rather than just teachers.

The final idea that we discussed was “Drop everything and read” – the idea being that the whole school, at a designated time each week, literally drops whatever they are doing and read for 20 minutes.  Now, logistically this is the most challenging idea and the obvious answer (at my school) would be for this to happen during one an extended Tutor period.  However, I think it would have a much bigger profile and a more significant effect if it happened during lesson time.  The kids would be made to sit up and think about reading if in the middle of their Technology lesson they had to down their tools and pick up a book.  I will need to get my Principal on board with this one!  If anyone has any ideas about how I might convince her and the rest of the school to giving this a go please comment, e-mail me or tweet me @jamesmichie.  I think this has huge potential but will take some serious willpower to get it off the ground!

The meeting was really productive and affirmed my decision to put reading at the front of my blogging / Twitter agenda.  Maybe it’s the time of year – it did feel like spring this week and I really feel that the #edread discussion is beginning to take bloom.

Student involvement:

I have also now decided that I do want to get the students involved in the discussion.  I particularly want to hear from KS4 students – those who do read and those who don’t.  I want to understand what reading means and represents to them?  Why some have continued reading for pleasure?  And why other have not?  I am trying to decide between using an open forum on the VLE, using the “choice” module  again on the VLE or using Survey Monkey. I have decided against using Twitter as it would be difficult to get a representative response due to the fact that I have limited control over who is on Twitter and who is not.  I will therefore use a method that all students can access.

The latest #edread tweets:

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the discussion so far.  Remember you can see a full archive of the tweets here and there is a dedicated page here.Image by kittykatfish on Flickr.

#edread – An Update! (1 Week & 3 Days Since The Discussion Began.)

cogsThis week I have learned that keeping a discussion going (even on Twitter) is not always easy, particularly when you are a busy teacher.  I must look into “automated reminders / retweeting” – I use “twitterfeed” to link my blog to Twitter.  There must be a service that could retweet an individual tweet each day to remind people in my PLN to contribute and to catch those people who perhaps missed the tweet the first time.  I tweet a lot so my tweets don’t hang around forever.  On the other hand I don’t want to send so many reminders that my entire PLN turn against me due to my incessant nagging!

I have also learned that there are not that many English teachers in my Twitter PLN.  This is perhaps because I spend a lot of time connecting with people whose primary interest is #edtech – which is my primary interest as well.  I used “wefollow” to find and add some more English teachers to my PLN.

After the great start made last week when I initially posted about the #edread project’s progress I have already shared some of the ideas and resources with my colleagues.  This week will be no different as several people have shared some interesting websites and resources since last Sunday.  Please read through the tweets below and click on the links.

Don’t forget that there is a full archive of #edread tweets here.  And there is a dedicated page here.

I think that I should get students involved in this discussion.  I have used Twitter in the classroom and know that it works.  Should I give them the hash tag and ask them to tweet? What are the implications?  Or should I use a different methodology – in class survey, through our school VLE or Survey Monkey?  Any thoughts or ideas about this would be  welcomed.  I believe that they are the most important voice in this discussion so they should be included!

Tweets since my last update:

I hope that if you are reading this you are finding it useful?  If you have not contributed yet please join the discussion and share your ideas via Twitter using the hash tag #edread.

Image courtesy of Jim Sneddon on Flickr.


#edread – An Update!


On Thursday I began a ‘crowdsourced’ discussion about getting kids to read, titled #edread.

The purpose of this post is to:

  • Add clarification to the purpose of #edread
  • Clarify how you can get involved in the discussion
  • To show how many great ideas and resources have been shared already.

(Perhaps I should do a weekly update? – I will give this some thought!)

1. What is the purpose?
I have started the discussion to develop a fuller understanding of how to engage students in reading and to also collate a bank of resources that can be used for this purpose.  While starting the discussion it became clear that there were three different types of student who I wish to focus on:

  • The student who does not read at all and does not see any value in it.
  • The student who wants to read but is afraid as they feel that they simply “can’t read”.
  • The student who knows they can read but is happy to coast along reading the same (level) book rather than challenging themselves with higher (level) material.

2. How do you get involved?
Simply share any ideas, thoughts, links or resources on Twitter using the #edread hash tag.

I have set up an archive of #edread tweets here.  And there is a dedicated page to #edread here on my blog.

3. Ideas and resources shared on Twitter so far:
Thank you to everyone who has gotten involved already. Here is what has been shared so far. (I have removed the #edread hash tag and also done some cleaning up – replaced abbreviations with full words, changed grammar etc.)

  • kvnmcl Make time to read to the class every day – whether it be from a book, comic, newspaper, child’s story – read to them and read well.
  • joysimpson “Book displays deeply affect the mindset of those who see them” – Aiden Chambers. Book corners/displays in classrooms matter.
  • joysimpson Lists available such as – if you like..(Tracy Beaker.).then you might like these… Librarians to help and use of Google docs to create.
  • missbrownsword children are never too old to be read to, brings books to life for them.
  • missbrownsword get authors into school.
  • daveterron When having silent reading, read a book as well. Set an example and they’ll follow. (Sound advice, I have done this since I trained to teach.)
  • missbrownsword use reading journals to encourage kids to engage with what they’re reading.
  • Joga5 In Primary have storytelling at break and lunchtimes – could be MDSAs, staff, volunteers (1 school I know has crowdsource events!)
  • DKMead @missbrownsword have you seen peelweb.org. It has a great structure for reading logs encouraging thoughtful interaction with texts.
  • Joga5 Remember that reading has to be uncomfortable and challenging at times (challenge, subject matter, genre etc).
  • Joga5 (Primary) Swap teachers around to read to classes on regular occasions.
  • Joga5 Kids aren’t stupid. Don’t restrict an emphasis on reading to World Book Day & Book Week – be consistent with fun splurges of events.
  • missbrownsword when I was a bookseller I often went into schools to do reading workshops, teachers – make friends with booksellers!
  • missbrownsword RT @MichaelRosenYes My 20 point ‘how to make a book-loving school’ at www.readingrevolution.co.uk.
  • damoward RT @jamesmichie: use a wide variety of texts in lessons 2 let them experience different types of writing & language.
  • jamesmichie use wallwisher as a book review page to encourage reading – get students to write a short summary, opinion and include a picture of the book.
  • jamesmichietake your new Year 7s to the library often, teach them how to select a book to read – encourage them to explore.
    • BiancaH80@jamesmichie That’s a great idea. Sounds so simple but it’s so important. I haven’t taken mine once. I will next week.
      • jamesmichie @BiancaH80 thanks, when I had a Year 7 class I took them at least once per half term – I sat with them & discussed their choices.
  • jamesmichie when studying a class novel get students to buy/download it – ownership of the text helps them to value it.
  • BiancaH80 We do literature circles at our school – started last year. I’d like to do it once a term. Mini-bookclubs.
  • BiancaH80 These bookmarks are great: http://bit.ly/d1Z7IH Get them to write you a letter about their book.
  • IDrumly Make a museum of artifacts as you read. Encourage food, clothes, diary. Design FaceBook pages for characters. Choose actors for a new movie adaptation.
  • jamesmichie great presentation about reading strategies by Bill Boyd: http://bit.ly/3hZ7rJ and lots more great material on his blog: http://bit.ly/fUgdG.
  • AntHeald My school is using AR – http://bit.ly/9URFR8 Definitely working for some.
I hope that if you are reading this you are finding it useful?  If you have not contributed yet please join the discussion and share your ideas via Twitter using the hash tag #edread.Image courtesy of Hannes Treichl on Flickr.

#edread – A Crowdsourced Twitter Discussion About Getting Kids To Read.


It is easy to feel despondent as a teacher.  It can seem that an insurmountable list of problems face us as educators in the 21st century.  As an English teacher I feel that I am attempting to address the short comings of a society in which reading is under-valued, to engage students who fail to see the value of reading, having grown up in a world of XBOXs and iPods and to deal with a growing number of students who do see reading as valuable but due to the fact that they find it too difficult have completely disengaged from it.

However, I believe that we should not feel despondent.  In fact, I believe that we have a duty to feel hopeful looking upon these issues as challenges and opportunities to be addressed rather than just problems to be bemoaned.  My students’ vocabulary does not measure up to what my own was like at their age. Okay, this does not make me happy but if that’s the case then I need to do something about it. I need to get them reading! How am I going to do it? I don’t know exactly (because each case is different) but I do have some guiding principles:

  • I can not expect my students to want to read so I need to inspire them and help them to see the value in it.
  • I need to teach them to overcome their fears about reading and to overcome the barriers that are there stopping them from becoming good readers.
  • I must not cut off routes to understanding simply because it does not fit in with my own value system – if they don’t want to use my Oxford dictionary to look up a word but want to use Google instead then that is fine by me.
  • I need to offer them the opportunity to read the kinds of texts that they will come into contact with in real life.  Every lesson does not have to be about Shakespeare, Austen or Dickens!
  • I have a responsibility to read myself and model good reading.  The best reader in the room is me so I should not be a lazy teacher and ask them to read all of the time – sometimes they need to hear the words come off of the page as they were meant to.

These are my core beliefs as an English teacher who is passionate about reading and one who tries very hard every day to help his students enjoy and value reading.

Getting kids reading is firmly on my departments’ agenda at the moment. Having been involved in the undoubted success that was #movemeon (via @dajbelshaw)  I would like to engage my Twitter PLN in a discussion about how to help young people value reading.  I have identifed three types of pupil:

  • Those who never read and see no value in it.
  • Those who want to read but believe they can’t.
  • Those who read the same thing over and over again rather than challenging themselves.

This then calls for three questions:

  • How do you help the student who never reads and does not see the value in it?
  • How do you help the student who wants to read but won’t because they believe that they can’t?
  • How do you help the student who is happy to coast along reading their way through Tracey Beaker or Alex Rider but is unwilling to challenge themselves and read something more involved?

I am going to use the hash tag #edread and have created an archive here at Twapper Keeper to record all of the tweets. I hope that you will help me out and get behind this project.

[Update] I have created a dedicated page here to keep a record of the project – featuring links to any related posts and an archive of all tweets tagged with #edread. I may also turn this into a book – most likely an online pdf but I have not fully thought this bit through yet.

Crowdsourcing seems to be the model of choice at the moment and I am not about to argue with that.  I think it is the most effective way for us to collaborate and share ideas. What’s more I thoroughly enjoy it.

Should you have any questions please contact me @jamesmichie.

Image courtesy ofsolbronumberone” on Flickr.  Found using “Compfight“- a Flickr Search Tool via @iusher.