When Readers Become Distracted...

This happens to me.  I'll be reading something (or I think I'm reading something), when suddenly I realize I have no idea what I've been reading.  My mind was totally someplace else.  

It happens to kids, too... even young readers.  And they need to be aware of it.  They need to know WHY this happens to readers and then WHAT to do about it.  This post doesn't have a chart about why readers get distracted, but I think that would be a great discussion.  In fact, I think it's critical.  Share some of the reasons you've personally experienced and then ask the children to share some of their ideas... they'll surprise you with their own background knowledge on this topic.  These are some I've heard in the past:

• I'm tired.
• The book is boring.
• The book is too hard.  I don't understand it.
• I don't like it.
• I was thinking about a fight I had with a friend this morning. 
• I'm really cold.
• I have a big soccer game tonight.
• The lights are so bright.
• The person next to me is humming.  (or clicking or flipping... LOL)

* Sometimes the reasons are personal or emotional.  But sometimes, they point to an environmental issue, like temperature, lighting, sound, and physical comfort.  Small changes in the setting can make a difference for many distracted readers.

Once you've had this discussion, plan lessons around one (or all) of these next anchor charts.  They teach children active strategies to use when they notice their mind has wandered away from the book they're reading. They're good for about 1-2 weeks of really thoughtful reading work. Follow up after a few days and ask the children how it's going.  "How have the strategies helped you?"  "Do you notice a difference in your attention?"  "Why is this important?"

Happy teaching!  :) 

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