Saturday, August 06, 2005

More on reading

This article from the Washington Post a few days ago talks about the lack of progress in reading by middle school students. In light of the article from USA Today I posted about earlier, I found it particularly interesting. The article did not discuss what the schools were going to do to help students. No, that isn't entirely accurate. It said:
For example, seventh- and eighth-graders might be enrolled in "power literacy" classes, ninth-graders in "expanding literacy."
That certainly doesn't sound like anything that would make me want to read, and I am fairly literate already! I don't imagine it would be much better for the struggling kids who are put in the classes.

I don't know, obviously, what the students in these classes are reading, but it seems that it would be worth talking about how the schools are trying to inspire kids to read, not just how they are going to drill them on reading skills and, possibly, test them more often.

From my experiences with my own kids and with students, they will read if you let them read things that they are interested in. It is obvious. We are more interested in eading something we choose to read rather than something we are forced to read. Why should kids be any different?

I had the opportunity to hear Jeff Wilhelm speak a few weeks ago, and he had some great suggestions on how to reach adolescent readers. None of them, I am sure, would be included in a "power literacy" class, although they should be! Wilhelm makes the point that kids need to see an immediate value to learning activities and that they seldom do. They too often think they are doing it for us, the teachers.

We have to get kids to see the value of what we are asking them to read. That, of course, presupposes that there is some value in it aside from completing the assignment or preparing for the test. If there isn't any real value for them, maybe we need to think about asking them to read something else. And this brings us back to the textbooks. Most of them contain things I wouldn't want to read! How can I force a student to read something even I am not interested in reading?

No comments: