Sunday, January 24, 2010

Reluctant Readers

Sunday Edition with Michael EnrightThis is not a new topic. But these readers tend to be boys, or girls who want a bit more of a plot and story.

There are a great many 'high interest, low vocab' book out there.
Some fabulous ones on great disasters. My reluctant gr. 6 readers, as well as the keeners, enjoyed them.

CBC Radio PodcastsThis show, The Sunday Edition, did a great piece on Reluctant Readers in their middle hour. You can download the iTunes podcast if you are interested.

Eric Walters is a terrific action writer for young reluctant readers. I am pretty sure he visited a school I was in once upon a time!

Too bad  the teacher/librarian must have been one of those who didn't stay for the whole Whole Language workshop. Spelling and phonics were an important part of Whole Language. Many misinterpreted the philosophy. From the whole to the parts. But then, in many larger school boards it was the train the trainer model and teachers were sent back to the school to deliver the goods to school staff. They didn't have time to deliver the whole plan.

 In quality curriculum plans, you meet the needs of all readers, and teach those who need little reading support by setting them free, and use their expertise to fine tune the knowledge base of reluctant and weak readers with little in their sight word mental filing cabinets.

It was appalling, that newer teachers and those less confident in their teaching philosophy, abandoned a whole generation. Eschewing phonics for touchy feely lessons. The authors of Whole Language published many tomes on phonics and spelling activities. But school boards didn't want to pay for the whole deal. Teachers missed out on the 'minilesson' philosophy and the teachable moments that characterized Whole Language lessons. You use language in a story to find topics of discussion based on the vocabulary of a story the class is reading.

wordwall.JPGSome of the excellent teacher guides, purchased with reading anthologies of the 80s, outlined some terrific teaching plans that followed the whole plan. You can see in some posts, however, that those who do not know what they are talking about say:

Whole Language vs. Phonics Reading Instruction

Whole language reading instruction (also known as "look-say" or "sight" reading) is the most widely used method of teaching reading in the U.S. and many misunderstand it.
You cannot teach those who have not mastered phonics, and cannot sight read, how to read a complicated novel.

You can blame poorly trained US teachers for this misinformation, which has slowly spread up to Canada. The myths of our Canadian system often are spawned by Americans writing about a US-based issue, and Canadian media extrapolating to Canadian learners and teachers.
For example:
"Another book Retarding America — The Imprisonment of Potential is based upon a study of children and young adults in the juvenile justice system. It probably won't surprise you that there is a very high rate of illiteracy among that group."

This webpage goes on to say that Whole Language vs. phonics is to blame, when, indeed the phonics are part of the "whole". 

You can also blame superintendents and bandwagon principals who didn't understand the WHole Language philosophy. With direction from above, teachers abandoned their principles.

1 comment:

max said...

It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys. In fact, I've recently completed a feature magazine article on this subject that came out in October, "Help for Struggling, Reluctant Readers."

I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

My blog, Books for Boys is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading. And my new book, Lost Island Smugglers - first in the Sam Butler Adventure Series - coming out in June.

Keep up your good work.

Max Elliot Anderson

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