Lisa Ainsworth spent eight years teaching 3rd and 4th grade at two public schools in Mississippi.
She was applauded for being a great teacher because of her infectious love for reading, plus her students always scored well on state tests. But when Ainsworth switched to teaching at a private school her world was flipped upside down.
Ainsworth says her students didn’t seem to enjoy reading, and Accelerated Reader was an incentive for the wrong reasons.
“It (AR) didn’t work for my students,” said Ainsworth. “Some of them saw it as a competition and only read to earn stickers. And some of them didn’ t care if they ever took a test and never wanted to read anything.”
On top of that, she didn’t have a way to measure her progress. In public school, she always had the state test, but her students did not take the state test at the private school.
Ainsworth needed a reset; she needed to discover a new formula for inspiring her students. She began reading the works of Donalyn Miller, author of “The Book Whisperer” and “Reading in the Wild.”
That’s when she realized she needed to break away from the “whole-class novel study” and instead allow each student to read whatever inspires them.
In Episode 35 of Class Dismissed, Ainsworth explains how she manages a class where each child is reading a different book. We also discuss how inspired reading led to flexible seating in her class. Students often learn upside down on sofas or even do classwork standing up.