Independent Reading Vs. DEAR Time

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I did a great professional development today on the differences between independent reading and DEAR time.  Independent reading is definitely a buzz word buzzing its way around the education world.

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So what is Independent Reading and how is it different from DEAR time?

Independent reading is where the students in your class read independently for a certain period of time.  This sounds very similar to DEAR time but it is actually very different.  During DEAR time students choose any book they like to read during the given time.  A major difference from DEAR time and independent reading is that yes students do get a choice in the books they read but it is a little more restricted.  Students have to choose a book on their reading level.  This is one of the most important parts of independent reading.  Some teachers let students read any book on their independent level or lower.  I personally feel this is a big range so I tell my students they can only go down 2 or 3 levels.  If a student is reading at a level S they shouldn’t be completing their independent reading on a level H.

Another major difference between the two is the purpose.  During DEAR time the purpose is just to have students read.  This sounds great but how do you know all your students are actually reading. During independent reading you give the students a purpose for reading and hold them accountable. That is really the key.  For example lets say your mini lesson for the day is analyzing a character. After you teach the lesson the students will go off on their own to complete independent reading.  During that days reading they will analyze a character in their own book.

Check back soon for more independent reading ideas!

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