Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Reversing Reading Failure

Question: How can a teacher change failing readers’ perceptions of their reading ability?

Answer/Quote: “When I met Antony (all names are pseudonyms) in September, he was an eighth-grade student in Ms. Winters’s English class. His most recent test scores indicated that he read on a fourth-grade level. Mrs. Winters explained that he had barely passed the seventh grade and had a history of failing to complete assignments. She was concerned that he might drop out when he reached high school because of his difficulties with reading. ‘If his reading doesn’t improve,’ she said, ‘then I think he’ll get frustrated and quit—just completely quit.’ ” P. 368.

Quote: “Rather than trying to force students like Antony to take up and enact our understandings of what it meant to be a good reader, both in general and in English specifically, we engaged them in discussions and experiences about how they wanted to improve their reading, what they needed to do to achieve their goals, and how we could assist them along the way. As a result, students’ experiences with reading evolved into a partnership between the student and Ms. Winters.” P. 369.

Quote: “If you were considered to be a poor reader, ‘you get to do more worksheets and all the books are dumb and boring.’ ” p. 371.

Quote: “Students also had thoughts on how their teachers could help them become the kinds of readers they envisioned. Their most common recommendation was for teachers to provide them with more time to read challenging texts in school. Students believed they did not spend enough time reading in school and that this lack of time prevented them both from learning content and improving as readers.” P. 372.

Comment: What do failing students think about their reading? How do they think their reading could be improved? This might not be the whole answer, but it’s part of the answer. Establishes a partnership between the teacher and the students to improve the students’ perception of their reading ability. I like the idea. RayS.

Title: “Rewriting Identities: Creating Spaces for Students and Teachers to Challenge the Norm of What It Means to Be a Reader in School.” Leigh A. Hall. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (February 2012), 368-373.

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