The Phenomenon of the 100 Page Club by Stephanie Severson
At the beginning of my language arts classes all students read 10-15 minutes with a book of their choice. Students are expected to read an additional 20 minutes outside of class. I don’t use a book log, but do take a quick status of the class after we finish reading. This is one of the most important check-ins I do with students. I have a simple chart with names and five columns for days of the week. I write down the book title and then a page number everyday. I use this time also to solicit opinions about the book they are reading, or to ask what the student is planning to read next if I notice he is almost finished. It also helps me to intervene if I have a student who has a different book every day of the week.
About mid-way through the year I starting noticing that more and more students were reading 100 pages from day to day. I wanted to encourage this behavior, but also not make anyone else feel bad about not reading that many pages.
I had an empty bulletin board at the back of my room. I hung up two large pieces of colored paper and wrote 100 Pages at the top of one and 200 or More Pages at the top of the other. I didn’t make any big announcement or issue a challenge, I just hung up the pages. Then as I started noticing the 100 or 200 or more chunks of overnight reading, I asked that the student sign their name on the sheet. If during the month they had another 100 or 200 chunk, they signed the page again.
At the end of the month, I typed all the names into Wordle.net to create a word cloud. Those students who have signed the page numerous times show up in a larger font. I hung up the wordle and then hung up new blank sheets with the same heading. Here’s the dangedest thing — more and more students are reading 100 pages or more per night. It is now May, four months into this experiment and I have more students than ever on the 100 page poster. This is with no fanfare, no reward, no class recognition — they only get to sign their name and then have their name on the word cloud. I do turn the word cloud into administrators in the building, so if they see the student in the hall, they can offer recognition.
I asked a few students who have their name up on the paper for the first time this month, and here are the responses I received.
- “The more you read, the more the book gets good, and so you want to read even more!”
- “Once I notice that I’m getting close to one hundred pages, I think, ‘I might as well keep going.’”
- “I know that I’ve achieved something special, and other kids can see my name and they know I achieved something.”
I will continue to do this next year. I may ease into it with a 50 page poster and 100 pages or more poster, and then up the ante when we return from winter break. I teach at a year round school, and I’m encouraging the students to set a 1000 page goal for our short six week summer break.
Stephanie Severson is a seventh and eighth grade language arts teacher at DaVinci Academy of Arts and Science, a charter school in Blaine. She is an avid reader herself and a book pusher to all readers in the school. She tweets as @stephaseverson. Her classes blog book reviews at Leonardo’s Bookshelf. (http://davincicharterschool.wordpress.com/)