Andrew Snider’s Free Voluntary Reading Toolkit

My personal FVR Library currently has around 75 books for learners. Sadly, I am my own biblioburro.

For a long time, I struggled to find a way to keep students accountable during Free Voluntary Reading (FVR). Here’s my winning game plan, complete with free downloads below.

What is FVR? How and why do I use it in class?

FVR is self-selected pleasure reading. Starting in Spanish II, my students get to pick a book from my personal library (around 75 books) that I bring to class twice per week*. Students get 10 minutes to read whatever book they want and they read at their own pace. If they don’t like a book, they can put it back and grab a different one from the library.

It’s untargeted input. FVR has no grammatical or lexical agenda. It’s just language that learners can enjoy.

The goal of FVR is to get students to fall in love with reading. That way they’ll (hopefully) seek out more input in L2, even after the term ends.

I use FVR in class because I use it to learn new languages myself. I’ve experienced tremendous gains in various languages by reading for fun. I can personally attest that 20 minutes of FVR per week goes a long way. Fifty minutes would be even better.

*I keep my library in a blue-green crate. I lug the crate back and forth from my car because I don’t have an office (#adjunctLife #yoSoyElBiblioburro).

The FVR Accountability Toolkit (Free Downloads Below)

I’ve been searching for ways to keep students accountable during FVR in class. My solution is twofold:

  1. I have printed and trimmed bookmarks for FVR (free download #1).
    • Learners write their name on the top of the bookmark so they can see it when the book is closed.
    • Learners leave their bookmark in the book so they can pick up where they left off the next time they read (you know, like a bookmark).
    • At the end of each FVR session, learners write the title of the book they read and what page they ended on. That way they can still pick up where they left off, even if the bookmark falls out of the book (see #adjunctLife comment above).
    • I can glance at a few bookmarks and see the progress learners are making in different books.
    • I use a different color of paper for each class so it’s easier for learners to find their bookmarks the next time they read.

  2. I have printed and trimmed Book Review Slips (free download #2)
    • I have a stack of these I bring with me to each class when we do FVR.
    • Each time a learner finishes an FVR book, they fill out a Book Review Slip (Their name, the name of the book they read, a rating of 1-5 stars, and a brief review of the book they read. Did they like it (or not) and why?
    • The reviews and stars let me see what titles a particular student and/or class enjoys. I can then, among other things, use that knowledge to personalize the class to those tastes and topics.
    • I offer students 5 points of extra credit (our course has a total of around 1000 points) for each book review they complete.
    • These reviews (and the extra credit) motivate students to keep reading a book to completion.

FVR has no grammatical or lexical agenda. It’s just language that learners can enjoy.

-Andrew J. Snider (Me)

My Previous (and Failed) Attempts at Accountability

Just for fun, below is a list of several ways I tried to keep students accountable. I wasn’t happy with any of these solutions for a variety of reasons.

  • Students wrote down words they didn’t know to look up later
  • Students wrote down their favorite word that they read
  • Students told their partner in L1 what they read about (tried in in L2, and it devolved into L1 anyway).
  • Students wrote a brief summary of what they read.
  • Students drew a picture of what they read and captioned it in L2.
  • Students wrote down the three most essential sentences they read.
  • Students kept a journal of what they read

Maybe you’d have more luck than me with some of these, or know a way to make them better.

For now, I’m happy with my bookmarks and book reviews for extra credit.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these books/products and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

5 Replies to “Andrew Snider’s Free Voluntary Reading Toolkit”

  1. Hi Andrew, I am impressed with this toolkit and the recommended titles on your reading list. I too am living the #adjunctlife and I would love to incorporate FVR into my classes. Dare I ask how you financed this operation? I have struggled to get this going in my classes due to the lack of books (not to mention multiple copies) on my own dime. Any suggestions?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Kelsey, thanks for asking! I bought all the books in my biblioburro FVR library with my own and precious #adjunctlife dollars. The current library set me back around $250-$300, which I did have to save for.

      I do have some ideas to grow a library and to implement FVR without one.

      1. A good friend of mine has students purchase one novel from a list of recommended titles at the beginning of the term. Students then exchange those books with other learners when/if they finish a title during FVR time in class.

      You could ask students (obviously not require) to donate their book to the class library at the end of the term. I’d imagine that you’d quickly have a decent catalog of titles this way.

      1a. Get a few titles of your own that students can exchange their book with to add some variety.

      2. Talk to your library. Sometimes they are thrilled to get a bunch of new books for adjunct faculty. Sometimes not. It’s worth a shot!

      3. Talk to your department to see if there are any available funds for classroom materials like this. Sometimes there are course fees that can be used for this kind of a project.

      4. Start an Indiegogo campaign (or other kind of crowdfunding) and ask the community to help fund your project.

      Hopefully one of these ideas will work for you!

      1. Hi Andrew, Great ideas! I will definitely speak with my department and look into some options to help offset the costs. I am so glad to have found your blog and websites.
        Thanks again for sharing your ideas and hard work.

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