Contributed by: George M. Jacobs, Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Regional Language Centre (RELC)
Level: Upper Primary and above
Aims: To encourage deeper engagement with reading materials; to enable students to advertise books to each other
Teacher’s Preparation Time: The book wheels must be made, but students can help and once the wheels are made they can be used for years
Student Preparation Time: They need to write out their summary and answers to the questions
Resources: Thick paper, scissors, spinnable arrows
Part I - Making the wheels
Part II – Playing ‘Book Wheels’
George writes: I really like “Book Wheels” because it promotes creativity and other thinking skills among students. The group environment provides a more relaxed atmosphere for student talk. Students seem to enjoy sharing about their books with others. Also, students sometimes read the books that their groupmates reported on during Book Wheels.
I’ve found that students need practice on three aspects of Book Wheels: writing brief summaries, answering the questions, and asking follow-up questions when in the role of Encourager. Thus, the first couple times, I ask for the summaries and answers to be handed in before we play Book Wheels. Peers and I give feedback, and then the summaries and answers are rewritten. As to asking good follow-up questions, we discuss this during the Book Wheels demonstration, and when students are playing Book Wheels, I walk around and listen for this.
We don’t do Book Wheels for every book that students read, because I don’t want the writing to take too much time away from reading. Also, as students become more competent at Book Wheels, they won’t always need to write out their answers.
References: Laughlin, G. (1987). Book report roulette. In D. W. Johnson, R. T. Johnson, & E. J. Holubec (Eds.), Structuring cooperative learning: Lesson plans for teachers (pp. 145-156). Edina, MN: Interaction Book Company.
Questions for Non-fiction
Questions for Fiction
Lituanas, P. M., Jacobs, G. M., & Renandya, W. A. (1999). A study of extensive reading with remedial reading students. In Y. M. Cheah & S. M. Ng (Eds.) Language instructional issues in Asian classrooms (pp. 89-104). Newark, DE: International Development in Asia Committee, International Reading Association.
Extensive Reading: How?
Experts on ER (e.g., Yu, 1993) suggest the following characteristics for successful programs.
1. A large selection of reading materials to suit various reading levels and interests.
2. Time set aside for students to read during school.
3. Teachers who:
a. read silently along with students and tell students about what they read,
b. read aloud to students,
c. teach reading skills,
d. ask students to share with their classmates about their reading, and
e. monitor students' ER progress.
4. Engaging post-reading tasks, ones which do not take away from the joy of read and that do some or all of the following:
a. allow students to "advertise" to peers the texts they have enjoyed,
b. help teachers and students check students' progress,
c. provide students with some check and demonstrate their understanding,
d. encourage students to apply and develop their understanding of concepts and issues addressed in their reading in a variety of ways, including via art, music, and drama.
From our own observations and from talking with colleagues in various Asian countries, we feel that much good work in ER does takes place. For examples of such programmes, see the collection edited by Jacobs, Davis, and Renandya (1997) which contains chapters describing successful ER programmes in a number of countries in Southeast Asia and elsewhere around the globe. For instance, Lie (1997) describes ER among Indonesian university students, Smith (1997) explores the establishment of an ER programme in a Brunei secondary school, and Cockburn, Isbister, and Sim-Goh (1997) explain a buddy reading programme in Singapore in which older primary school students promote reading among schoolmates from lower grades.
However, a gap often exists between, on the one hand, what theory and research indicate would be beneficial to learning and what actually is implemented and sustained in classrooms, on the other hand (Rodriguez-Trujillo, 1996). Despite the success stories mentioned in the preceding paragraph, sustained, well-run programs are more often the exception than the rule. Effective ER programs seem especially scarce for lower achieving students, as many educators express the view that such students lack the desire and skills to read extensively. Thus, further research is needed to develop and test situation-appropriate ER implementation with lower-achieving students. We now state the research questions used in the present study, one which investigated an attempt to engage a group of these lower-achieving pupils in ER. Then, the methodology used in the study will be described.
Two research questions were formulated:
1. Will there be a significant difference in the pre-test reading proficiency scores of the control group (students who do not participate in an ER program) and the experimental group (students who do participate in an ER program)?
2. Will there be a significant difference in the post-test reading proficiency scores of the control and experimental groups?
The second question was the one of interest. The first one was set in order to test whether the randomization procedures used before the study began had succeeded in yielding control and experimental groups that were indeed matched as to initial reading proficiency.
Students at a public secondary school on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines participated in the study. The two-story school boasts clean, beautiful grounds, and has received an award for being the most effective secondary school in Region X. However, the school lacks a gymnasium and AV room, and the library is housed in a dilapidated building. School enrolment stood at more than 2800 for the 1997-1998 academic year, with an average of 52 students per class.
Ninety percent of the students at this school come from low-income homes where reading materials tend to be scarce. Many of them do not live with their own families. Instead, they live with other families who pay for their schooling in return for work around the house and elsewhere. Indeed, some students even support their families by working at night. For instance, they might sell "balut", eggs that are about to hatch. Thus, many have little time or energy after school for academic tasks, and without an in-class ER programme they are likely to do little reading.
Most classes last 40 minutes except for Science and for Technology and Home Economics which last 80 minutes. In addition to a bulletin board, every classroom is enlivened by various corners. The Filipiniana corner features displays on Philippines heroes, tourist spots, and folk dances. Other corners focus on science and on drug prevention. Drug abuse is a problem among a small number of students including some who participated in the study.
The study was conducted over a period of six months from September 1996 to January 1997. In September, 60 first-year students at the school, 30 females and 30 males, who were to be assigned to remedial reading classes constituted the participants in this study. Their ages ranged from 12-18. Using a matched-pairs design, each student was first matched with another of similar IQ, sex, socio-economic status, reading level, and past achievement. Then, one member of each pair was randomly assigned to the experimental remedial reading class, and the other member was assigned to the control class, so as to achieve balance on the variables in the two remedial reading classes.