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How Silent Sustained Readers was a gamechanger for this high school English teacher.

Steve Gardiner’s first assignment as an educator was a challenge. He was responsible for teaching five sections of a class called basic communications.

“It was exactly what it sounds like. The students in there had failed all of our other English classes,” said Gardiner. He was their last chance for them to earn the credits that they needed to graduate.

Unfortunately, that first year had a rough start. Gardiner says the students were not enthused and he admits that he was struggling to find stimulating curriculum material. But then a colleague suggested Sustained Silent Reading, also known as SSR.

Gardiner thought why not? I need to try something different. So they headed to the library and each student got to pick out their own book, and then every day the read for about 15 minutes. It was the consistency that seemed to make a difference.

“It wasn’t that long, a week at the most, I was getting an occasional complaint when I asked them to put down their books and go to their packets,” said Gardiner.

He thought wow! I’m getting somewhere with them.

Gardiner says he had success with the students the first year, but he wanted to learn more about SSR. He began researching and fine-tuning his program.

Over the next 27 years, Gardiner had success with SSR in his high school classroom while also becoming one of the leading champions for Silent Sustained Reading in the country.  He authored a book on the subject and gave workshops.

In Episode 125 of Class Dismissed, Gardiner teaches us how educators can roll out SSR in their own classrooms. You can listen to the latest episode of Class Dismissed on your favorite podcast app or iTunes.

To keep up with Steve Gardiner you can visit his website at

Other links from the episode

7 reasons why teachers should use the educational versions of Assassin’s Creed in their classrooms

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