FVR Doesn’t Work

FVR works, of course, but in my opinion not in ten minute chunks in classrooms. SSR does work in ten minute chunks in classrooms. So I have been doing SSR for those ten minutes to start my classes.

The FVR books are really expensive. They often contain very complex, late acquired, language. The pictures distract. It is a waste of time. The texts are not leveled to the kids’ capacities. FVR encourages kids to come in to class late because there is no accountability.

SSR on the other hand can lead to a nice short group discussion after the ten minutes in the TL if the class is reading in the same book. A quiz can be given for accountability. See the recent posts on that.

If we want, if the students are doing SSR reading in different (Gaab, Ray) books (which they prefer), we do a quick whip around in English to share from a few kids before moving on to the story.

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10 thoughts on “FVR Doesn’t Work”

  1. Thanks for making that distinction earlier, and again bringing this up. I thought they were different acronyms for the same thing (i.e. a choice of reading). I like the idea of choosing, especially now that I know my kids weren’t really into Piratas, and instead had about 15 different ideas about what to read, but SSR does work better in terms of keeping kids honest about reading in the classroom.

    SSR certainly helps the Latin teachers not feel so bad about options. Piazza is amassing a small FVR library, so I wonder how he feels on this. John?

  2. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    Very timely. I’m nodding my head that FVR for novices is an expensive waste of time, no accountability, questionable amount of CI. But it just so happens that I gave my 3rd and 4th graders some FVR time today – pick a picture book or two from my shelves and sit/read quietly. When you open it to browse before selecting, see if you can understand most of the words on the page…if no trade it out.
    Though I know that the comprehension was below the requisite 98% for qualifying as CI, when I surveyed afterwards, most kids said that they enjoyed the experience, they understood plenty of the text plus pictures, and they’d like to do it again sometime. Maybe I’ll use it as a brain break? As I’ve said elsewhere, it may boost confidence (Hey, I can get the main idea and fully comprehend some parts) or deflate it (Whut the heck does this mean? She never used or showed us that word…EVER!).
    Among ourselves, we lovingly refer to these occasional forays as FVP – Free Voluntary Perusal. Hey, it was an experiment.

    1. And Alisa your kids haven’t yet been soured on school so I can see FVR at that level. Somewhere along the line they stop wanting to learn, and school becomes school and so teachers have to become teachers and hold kids accountable. Crazy stuff! CI is all about total freedom and fun and school is about total control and drudgery. A marriage made in hell. And one that ends many CI careers before they get started. Only really strong people can do this stuff. Only really strong people can inject genuine ways to have fun while learning into the dark robotic things that schools have become. Just another chance here to say how truly strong we in our group really are. And that’s a fact.

  3. My current novels schedule:

    4th quarter of 4th grade: Isabella’s Adventures
    5th grade: Brandon’s Dog
    6th grade: Brandon in Yucatan
    7th grade: Isabella’s Congo
    8th grade:
    1st semester: Book Clubs
    2nd semester: 10-15 minutes of SSR of TPRS novels, probably do Fiesta Fatal with lower 8th grade group and Vampirata with higher group, then speed reading 4th quarter.

    Note: I don’t backwards design for any book. I basically only do a read-aloud when I do whole class reading. Sometimes some Reader’s Theater. That’s it.

  4. Eric said:

    …I don’t backwards design for any book. I basically only do a read-aloud when I do whole class reading. Sometimes some Reader’s Theater. That’s it….

    I agree. As this whole approach keeps moving forward, many of the good ideas of the past don’t look so good now, because we just don’t have enough time to do everything. The new stuff is pushing out the old, with the exception that the core of TPRS, Steps 1 and 2, remain the same and always will.

    An example is Step 1 of TPRS. Who has the time? Yes, it may be good for new people to get a handle on starting out a class, but eventually most people who make it through the first year of this work will very likely dump it. Some never establish meaning with all the gesturing, and they never do PQA. They just start a (Step 2) story. Why does that work so well. Because as long as we are presenting something to the kids where they want to know what is going to happen, they will lock onto our instruction.

    Also, we used to spend our summers in Denver Public Schools doing backwards design on Blaine’s books. It seemed necessary at the time. But now the entire concept of backwards planning to read novels seems silly. Did it even work? We used to make a big long list of words that we guessed our kids “didn’t know”. Then we thought that we could make up enough stories to teach them all, with three of those targeted words in each story, and then the kids would be able to read the book. But there were too many words and not enough time!

    So I agree with Eric and that is what I do as well: read alouds when it happens (the kids love it especially with funny voices) and some Reader’s Theatre (also a favorite activity of the kids). I think the arc of CI is moving slowly in the direction of non-targeted fun via lots and lots of shorter stories and lots of reading for fun (i.e., steps 1 and 2 of TPRS). CI is not a chore, it’s a way to make our jobs bring happiness into our lives and the lives of our students.

  5. FVR doesn’t’ work, but I wanted to share something I just started and love… so I thought I would share.

    I have had great success creating my own text with wordless graphic novels. I created text for the wordless picture book: Robot Dreams by Sara Varron. I’ve gotten good response to the text so far, and I thought someone may be interested in trying this book.

    This was written for a French I class, with extremely limited French. I made a point of building on words in later chapters that students learn in earlier chapters, and constantly working in vocabulary for the accompanying vocabulary list. It was so hard to write with only the high frequency words and cognates… all the while staying true to the story line, but I got it done thanks to the adorable illustrations. It’s such sweet story. It’s a touching way to address friendship, loss, and loneliness. It will lead to some interesting discussions, hopefully in French.

    I would caution elementary teachers that this book may be too sad for very young readers (who may also have trouble tracking with the comic-book blocks of text). I’d say anyone grade 3+ who have less than a semester of French would appreciate this version of the book.

    Text:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByQFj4OuxTXld1RZQW4yV2FORms/view?usp=sharing

    Vocabulary:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByQFj4OuxTXlT1RrOGNWSU40VTA/view?usp=sharing

      1. I love it! What an awesome idea. I bet this would be a great tool for the Latin teachers who I believe are lamenting the lack of Latin readers.

  6. “FVR for novices is an expensive waste of time”

    I tried it with French 2…too difficult.
    Spanish 3…depends on the group (see two factors below).
    Spanish 4 with one year of CI in Sp 3…this was the situation in which a student went from groaning about reading to asking for it (over the course of several months). On second thought, that was doing SSR with Blaine’s graded readers, with no assessment.
    Spanish 4 with no previous CI…less reticent to do FVR. More likely to engage in look-like-I”m-reading strategies…unless the student is a reader.

    At least two factors are key for having an enjoyable FVR experience:
    1) Students have sufficient CI experience to be on their own with the language. So they are floating around at the intermediate level.
    2) The degree to which students are readers (do their own pleasure reading outside of class). Reader will take to FVR before non-readers.

    All of my experience has been with medium academic ability students. They tend to be non-readers. I also get students with limited to severely limited levels of CI experience. They tend to be non-L2 communicators.

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