I’ve been thinking about a way to respond. In the latest copy of “Florida Rays” the newsletter of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society in Florida, there was an article on how retired teachers can help support reading in the school. This quote caught my attention:
Although the teaching of reading takes up most of the day in 21st century classrooms, the focus of instruction is on reading as a group of skills absent of reading as engagement with authentic, magical texts. Assessment of reading takes precedence over the joy of reading. Of course, skills, motivation, and progress monitoring are important aspects of reading instruction, but the standards movement has created an imbalance in classrooms and leaves little time for students to have enriching conversations about books.
As I think back, much of what I was able to accomplish in motivating young readers was based on being able to connect with them on books/topics we could become interested in/excited about. Even in my years as a Middle School Science and a Social Studies/Language Arts teacher, a class collection of related fiction and non-fiction library, magazines and other reading materials (newspapers, ads, etc.) were just as important as the assigned text. Kids chose which of the supplementary materials to read, which related-activities (of my/our creation) to complete and how to communicate what they learned to classmates, friends, family etc.
In my experience, initially, motivation comes from having readers involved in the selection of reading materials/topics and in meaningful application to something in their own lives and/or interaction with a person (teacher, classmate, family, friend) they like, trust, admire/ want to please. Eventually most usually shift from reading for/with others to reading/reacting/reflecting/internalizing/applying in their own lives. How ever the need to share never really goes away; evidence the popularity of adult book clubs and social media.
As a Media Specialist I had the freedom from prescribed subject area curriculum so I could take the time to work one-to-one or in small groups (selected by interest, not reading level). In order to promote diverse reading materials in the classroom, I would meet with teachers as they planned units and then selected books and av material from the collection to be checked out to their classroom for the duration of the units. I would also meet with their classes in the Media Center to teach research skills related to their classroom topics.
It’s too much to write but, when next we can talk, remind me to tell you about:
- Listen to Children and book/newspaper reading,
- Lunch Bunch Book Clubs (Newbury books and AV lead-ins)
- Maker activities:
- Strawberry Girl and strawberry tarts.
- Rainbow Goblins play and color-themed books/songs
- Newspaper reading in Student driving and PE classes,
- Christmas trees and birthday gifts for literacy characters (Visual and books)
- Teachers of Tomorrow reading to younger kids before school and themed over nights
- Fun Friday at Ida Fisher (archaeology, swimming)
- Illustrating and producing slide/video picture books (An African Alpha Alphabet, Photographs and Poetry)