After last week’s video about Sustained Silent Reading, here are answers to some specific questions that popped up:

Last week’s SSR overview video that you should watch before viewing this one:

A free set of my SSR handouts:

Teach on, everyone!

Join the conversation! 12 Comments

  1. Laura, I love your videos and materials! I have a question about the 10 points. Are those 9 individual entries in the grade book or do they add up to 900 by the due date and count as one grade. How do you weight your courses? I am a SPED Resource teacher with high hopes for my kiddos. Some of them have never read a book and I don’t want them to graduate without a love of reading. I can’t wait to start this. Unfortunately I just got rid of a bunch of Palahniuk’s books, but hopefully they are in the school library. Thank you so much!


  2. Thanks so much, Lena! The weekly 10 points that students earn usually add up to 90 points – 9 weeks X one 10-pt. session per week in a perfect world where nothing happens to mess with the schedule and we both know there’s no such thing so it actually ends up being more like 80 points for 8 sessions in most 9-week grading periods. On top of that and as a separate grade, I enter a major project score of up to 100 points for the quarter Book Talk.

    I used to weight grades but now use a straight-forward points system which is easier to manage with the grade book program. Roughly, though, the categories work out to the following:
    15% reading
    35% writing
    10% speaking/listening
    20% homework
    20% quizzes/exams

    I do hope you’re able to find a way to make SSR work for your kids. Many of my kids who qualify for resource services have found success with the audio book/physical book combo and I’m thinking that might be a good path for you to pursue, too. Go for it! 🙂


  3. Laura,
    I am confused about the finishing a book before the deadline. I your original sheet you say it’s not about the number of books but the number of pages. Yet here it sounds like you are saying you require them to finish a book each 9 weeks, so then it is about the number of books. I’m thinking of the like “The Goldfinch” – it’s super long and it might take the whole semester to finish it. Then at the first 9 weeks, what is their book talk on?


  4. Hi Danielle,
    Sorry about any confusion. Certainly, you are welcome to run your program however best fits your kids and your classroom community, but I require students to finish a book before they participate in a Book Talk with me and they’d need to be sure to fulfill that assignment before the first-quarter deadline. If a student showed up with The Goldfinch, a challenging work for sure, I’d remind that student that he/she would need to finish it before our first nine-week marking period deadline. Any extra pages would roll-over into the second quarter, but the book would need to be finished by the first quarter deadline in order to him to earn a grade for the first-quarter marking period. That’s a way to help ensure students don’t bite off more than they can chew, as the cliche goes, when they choose that first book. If they have a healthy Book Talk page balance later in the year and want to tackle a long book for their fourth quarter score, that’s fine. They get to manage their books, but they do need to make sure they’ve completed enough Book Talks each quarter to secure the score they desire.

    When I say it’s not about the books, I mean that it might take one, two, or even three (very small) books to hit the quarter total. As long as the books are age-appropriate, they can read and report as many as needed to read the quarter deadline total. For most kids, that’s just one book, but other will present more than one completed book for a Book Talk each quarter and that’s fine with me, too. Hope this makes sense and helps clarify things. 🙂


  5. Hello Laura,
    I’m currently student teaching and am getting SO much inspiration for taking on my own English class next fall. I have a question about your SSR fridays. Do you get pushback from your parents/admin about that? There is a huge push from our school to raise rigor and, though I would LOOOVE SSR Friday, I don’t know how I can make them see the benefits. Any tips?

    PS you’re an inspiration. Thanks for all the advice!


  6. Congratulations, Drew, on joining our ranks! Get ready to have a delightfully exhausting adventure. Happily, no one on my campus has called the value of SSR into question (it’s a very common strategy), but if they did I would rest easy knowing that research is on our side: Happy reading! Maybe this’ll be one of your research paper topics? 😉


  7. Laura,

    I just started watching your videos and I am in awe! After 20 years of teaching I have different issues today than I did when I first started teaching. I think you may have solved a problem for me that I have had for the last 10 years. I do have one question though. If a student finishes their page quota for the semester or year, what do you have them do during SSR? Do you award extra points for additional reading or is it just expected that they read without the possibility of points? If the later is true, do you have success with them remaining motivated to read? For most of the kids who enjoy reading this would most likely not be a problem, but I am just curious how you keep them chugging along.


  8. Thanks so much, Chris. Glad you like the materials. Okay, so I face this same situation with every class. There are always a handful of kids – my super-readers – who burn through the entire 1,000-page requirement for the full year (250-pages per quarter) well before the deadline date/s. To keep those kids reading, they still need to have an SSR book with them and read every Friday to earn their 10 weekly points; they just don’t need to worry about Book Talking with me after they’ve successfully logged/earned those first 1,000 pages in their book page “bank account.” I tell kids that we all should be lifelong readers, so they need to keep on reading with the rest of the class every Friday until the end of the year. They also need to earn their weekly reading points. I don’t offer those super-readers extra credit or anything like that. They just keep on keepin’ on. Also, these tend to be the types of kids who read for fun, so they don’t have any problem at all with this approach. Hope this helps clarify how I run the show. 🙂


  9. I found your channel this summer and am I ever glad! You have inspired me to make some necessary changes in my sophomore English class, which actually begins tomorrow! I am planning on implementing SSR Fridays–thank you; however, I am not sure how to work it out with the two novels we read (one each semester). Do you use your curriculum novel during SSR reading time or is the novel all outside work in addition to the four books they read for SSR? Thank you so much!


  10. Hey, Jenny, welcome to the party! 🙂 No, I don’t let kids use our core literature as SSR material. SSR books are above and beyond our set curriculum. Hope this helps and that you have a great Day 1 tomorrow.


  11. Laura, how do you handle graphic novels or manga in regards to page totals?


  12. Great question, Angela! While I appreciate the validity of graphic novels and manga, they really don’t work for the page-count system, so they don’t quality as SSR books for the Book Talk tally. Once kids have their yearly goal met, they are welcomed and encouraged to bring in graphic novels if they wish to fill any remaining Fridays to earn their 10 weekly points. It’s definitely a flaw in the system, but I haven’t been able to figure out a fair alternative. Books with pictures, obviously, have to count as fewer total pages. Hope this helps. 🙂


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