Oklahoma ELA Academic Standards: Standard 8 - Independent Reading and Writing - "Students will read and write for a variety of purposes including, but not limited to, academic and personal, for extended periods of time." The 15-Minute Commitment is a scaffolded strategy designed to help students develop the skills necessary in order to be able to read for extended periods of time. Reluctant readers face a number of challenges when it comes to learning how to read for extended periods of time, i.e. anxiety and dislike about reading, the lack of instant stimulation, and the deafening silence that comes along with reading for extended periods of time. The 15-Minute Commitment addresses all of their concerns and helps them to relax and embrace reading.
Before Starting - In order to reduce their anxiety about the time and silence, I place a 15-minute timer youtube video, so they can look up and see how much more time is left. I also give them a reading strategy and a goal or question to look for while reading. For example, if we are talking about characters, a goal or question might be, "What are five personality traits of one of the characters? Be ready to support your answer with evidence." I usually stick with the same goal or question for the whole week, so they can practice identifying an answer and looking for evidence to support their answer.
Independent Reading - The 15-Minute Commitment is just that: the student is committing to reading the book for only 15 minutes. This commitment includes a commitment to put away their cell phones and any other mental distraction and to do their best on to focus on reading. If they do not like the book, the next day they can choose another book. At the same time, if they like the book, they may continue to read it the next day. I allow my students to read anything from picture books to graphic novels to young adult literature to the classics. While my students are reading, I model reading for them; although, I keep a vigilant eye out for cell phones and distractions that may try to creep in. If/When they do creep in, usually staring at my student is enough of a redirection for them. If I know cell phone addiction is a real problem for them, I quietly go sit with them to help encourage them to make good choices.
Whole Class Reading - Students read for 15 minutes then can do an activity or assignment. Like with the independent reading, the students are still making a commitment to put away their cell phones and any other mental distractions. I also still use the 15-minute timer and model reading. Because students do not read all at the same pace, rather than the objective be to get all the reading done in class, the objective is to give them the skills to be able to small chunk their reading outside of class to be able to achieve their reading.
Reading Outside of Class - I encourage my students when working on reading, whether for pleasure or for an assignment, outside of class to set their timer on their phone for 15-minutes, read for the 15-minutes then get up and go do something; a little bit later, they can come back set their timer for another 15-minutes, etc. It is like the instructions on shampoo, "Lather. Rinse. Repeat as Necessary."
The 15-Minute Commitment is not an instant get rich literacy scheme. Like with another habit and skill building process, it takes time and commitment. Except for when we are working on large time-consuming projects, my students engage in the 15-Minute Commitment every day, roughly 90% percent of the school days.