Thursday, March 5, 2009

Secondary School Topic: Students as Readers

10-second review: Ask students to write about and discuss their lives as readers.

Title: “Re-readings and Literacy: How Students’ Second Readings Might Open Third Spaces.” TL Lynch. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (December 2008/January 2009), 341. A publication of the International Reading Association (IRA).

Summary/Quote: “The single suggestion that I have for classroom colleagues is to create a space and time to ask students about their lives as readers. See what you hear. [Now that’s an interesting sentence for foreigners to parse.] What were your students like as readers in elementary school? Do they remember being read to as children? What was the effect of that? Did they ever enjoy reading? Do they still? What happens to our joy of reading as we age? I know that opening up a dialogue about whether students actually read their assigned readings is intimidating and uncomfortable. But it might also offer a new trust and dialogue to the classroom culture.”

Comment: One of the shocks of my life occurred recently when a student I taught in high school English, many years later, told me that he never read a book that I had assigned.

Of course, that was before I learned myself and taught my students the following.

1. Establish a purpose for reading.

2. Nonfiction chapters in textbooks. The directed reading assignment: build up background information. Pre-teach unfamiliar vocabulary. Set purposes in the form of questions after reading the first paragraph, the first sentence of intermediate paragraphs and the last paragraph and using or extending the ideas they had learned from reading.

3. Fiction—novel: Read for ten minutes in four different parts of the novel—near the beginning, half way through, three-fourths through and near the end. After each ten-minute reading, share what has been learned and raise questions about the ideas that have been read. Formulate a list of questions to answer from reading. If the going is slow, read a paragraph a page until you are again caught up in reading everything.

4. Fiction—short story. Read a single sentence on every page or column. Read a paragraph a page or column. What have you read? Questions? Read the first paragraph, the first sentence of each intermediate paragraph and the last paragraph. What have you learned? Questions? Read to answer the questions.

5. Nonfiction books. Read the foreword or preface. Read the first and last paragraph of each chapter. Then read the first sentence of each intermediate paragraph. If you’re caught, keep reading.

All of these techniques are designed to draw the reader into reading, to become absorbed in reading, to become immersed in reading. RayS.

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