Notice that the title of this post is not “On Required Reading,” which would probably talk about the practice of requiring certain books to be read by students taking a particular course. I have thoughts on that, and perhaps I’ll share them here at a later date when I’ve had more time at the high school level to share what I’ve been doing with that.
No, today, I’m here to assign you some required reading. It’s not required for everyone. But if you’re in education, it is. And if you’re not in education but you set educational policy, then you have to read everything I mention here today twice. Thrice. Four times. Until it sinks in, however long that takes.
They’re short reads, but worth me using whatever meager audience I pull here to redirect you to them.
The first is today’s Nerdy Book Club post by Jim Bailey, “Curing the Reading GERM.” This post is from a teacher-turned-principal and what he has done to embrace conferring with students about their reading instead of assigning AR tests to determine if the kids were actually reading. If you are in a school that is over its head with Accelerated Reader, and you know you want to get out but don’t know how, this post is a great starting point. You can find it here.
The second is a post from Donalyn Miller that also went live today. It is called “I’ve Got Research, Yes I Do. I’ve Got Research. How About You?” I can’t help but read that with the cheerleader-style chant Donalyn intended, and I just picture cheerleaders pumping up crowds to discuss research about best practices to develop literacy. We could use more of that. Her post is the first stop for you if you’re looking to compile some of the research that’s out there in defense of independent reading with conferring. You can find it here.
Some highlights from each of them today:
From Jim’s post:
“We were a team that shared a passion for creating lifelong readers. We supported each other in building classrooms that valued independent reading and strived to create a community of readers. We saw that this approach was benefitting our students and wanted to share our learning with other teachers.”
“Anyone can fake it on a book report but it’s hard to fake a reading conference. If you didn’t read the book, it was obvious during the conference.”
“Read aloud time was sacred in the room. 20 minutes every day, no matter what. It was a reading utopia, and it was working! Several students jumped 2 or 3 grade levels on the annual reading assessment. Students told me they read more this year than all the other years of their life combined. My 32 students read over 1000 books that year. It was my best year as a classroom teacher.”
From Donalyn’s post:
“Multiple studies since 1977 have identified what helps children learn to read well and become lifelong readers, but the general public and many educators remain ignorant of this research.”
“Stephen Krashen found that the single greatest factor in reading achievement (even above socio-economics) was reading volume—how much reading people do.”
“Why must English teachers constantly defend the need for students to practice reading and writing in a class dedicated to reading and writing?”
“You might be saying to yourself, ‘Oh, you can get research to say anything.’ No, you can’t. You cannot find credible research proving that the Sun rotates around the Earth or that bad air causes diseases. You cannot find research proving that test prep improves children’s reading achievement or test performance.”
::drops mic, walks away::