The ideas in the first couple of chapters speak to my experiences in education not only k-12, but also adult education. Students must have the ability to read critically in a wide variety of texts to be successful students/readers. Since 50% of all students entering community colleges are ready to read critically, what about the other 50%? Those are the students we are called to find new and improved strategies to help with critical reading skills in order to analyze the text. Certainly, before we even approach reading improvement, we must ensure that the classroom environment is safe, respectful and collaborative. Once the tone is set for an environment conducive to learning, the student can then move on to find strategies to improve their own reading process.
In my early years as a teacher in K-3, a college of mine used to tell the children that 10 ways to be a better reader was to: Read, read, read, read..... I would agree that practice does make perfect. But how do we, as educators, know that students are reading if we are not leading/showing them the way. Only after building a foundation of many skills will the student(s) be able to participate as a reading apprentice. The ideas of reading being a part of an apprenticeship makes sense to me. It reinforces the best practice of, checking for understanding, every step of the way. The apprenticeship also allows those top 50% of students that have critical reading skills to share the skills/strategies of a critical reader with other students in the pair or group. It all makes good sense to me!
I think what's written on pages 6-11 is really important, especially what they have to say about teaching isolated reading "skills." Trying to learn to read more effectively this way would be like trying to learn the game of basketball by just practicing shooting, dribbling, etc. Practicing those skills doesn't "teach" you the game; playing it does (with a coach). Practicing isolated skills only makes sense after you've developed a strong knowledge and feel for the game or in conjunction with playing it "for real" (end of sports metaphor). Not only that, but the act of reading is so situational, even in academic settings, so that to believe that there are fundamental aspects that, if mastered, transfer to all reading situations is very flawed, I think.
I smiled at your reference to basketball and thought, "He's sharing his schema!"
Georgiana, I appreciate your emphasis on students sharing and learning from one another. This is one of my personal big take-aways from this book. Instead of the teacher explaining everything, students can work together to figure out things they do not understand. I have been amazed at how much learning is happening when I have structured my classroom to allow for pairs and small groups to work together.
Moderator, Assessment CoP
I have also been impressed by the improved learning that occurs when students work in pairs or small groups. However, I notice that many of my students are not so immediately convinced! Reading through the section on the social dimension and creating safety made me think that I might be asking for too much task-centered interaction before the students have had a chance to become comfortable with each other. I've always hated ice breakers and found them artificial, but maybe something as simple as introducing your partner to the class is a good way to get people used to talking together in a lower-stress situation. I just started a new session on Monday and had some push-back from students who didn't want to work in pairs. I'm planning a "low stakes" pair interaction for Wednesday with a discussion of the pros and cons of group work so that the students can see why I want them to do it and so we can come to an agreement on how much is too much. We'll see how it goes!