Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sound Familiar?

Everything was going great in class.  Everyone was playing along. Kids were expressing personal applications to the lesson.  They were asking questions that demonstrated sincere thought and consideration to the ideas discussed.  There seemed to be no questions left. The assignment was handed out with the typical instructions, "Read and follow the directions."  Then boom, it happens.  Little Johny threw a piece of eraser at Suzy and Suzy screams out, "STOP IT!"  All that preemptive work, down the tube.  Then the conscientious teacher begins asking questions and self-reflecting.  What happened? Do we yell at either, neither or both of them?  Do we need to spend more time working together and less time on independent practice, because they cant handle it?  What went wrong?  Where did I mess up?  Should we have spent more time on procedural training at the beginning of the year?

Idea:  Johnny can't read.  Oh, sure, he learned to "read" but he is not able to read well enough to learn.  This forces him to act out to distract any possible attention given to his deficit and he now works to avoid being put into a position where his ability, experience, talents or struggle is called into question or doubt!  This case of avoidance behavior keeps his struggle well hidden. 

Short term suggestion: Read the instructions together and do a sample of semi-guided practice.  Then maybe circumvent the confrontation and prevent Johnny from acting out and Suzy for disrupting .  Maybe he will stay quiet and be good long enough for others to do their homework? Maybe not?

Long term suggestion:  TEACH JOHNNY TO READ.  Try these...

This should be our primary quest as educators.  All other content areas will take a back seat to a student's reading ability.  Standards, outcomes, CCSS, ELO's or whatever desired results we wish our students to grasp follow their ability to read.  A students ability to read will govern or limit the amount of information he is able to grasp, understand and then comprehend.  Articulation, verbal expression and written expression serves as the building blocks of civilization.  Failure of one generation to equip another generation with tools is truly educational neglect and societal suicide. Investing (not spending) time on teaching folks to read will only reap dividends. Failing to help our children (and adults) read only hurts our community, both locally and nationally! 

Look at these videos discussing the shift... Then please email me or respond or comment with something you find interesting...
       1. Shift Happens - Original 
                           (Originally created for teachers in a district in Colorado)

       2. Shift Happens Technology Version

       3. Shift Happens -ver 3.0

Is it OK for us to send Johnny to the next grade, even though he cant read?  What if Johnny is in a math class and not a reading class?  What if reading is not my specialty?  Is there justification for not teaching our future to read? 

There is a shift...  Preparing our students for something we know nothing about is our challenge. 

Reading is the tool they will need to succeed!

Learn to read, to read to learn...

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