Beginning next week, a teacher in Hayward will launch a Kindle reading intervention for the eight lowest-performing readers in the 10th grade. The cohort will meet for an hour once a week, focus on the personal and cognitive domains of the Reading for Understanding framework, and read a lot on Kindles.
The six boys and two girls, on average, read at a third or fourth grade level. Most reading specialists and researchers would argue that the students need an intensive, one-on-one program to accelerate their reading growth.
That is likely possible, but the teacher and I are exploring another possibility. What will happen if we build a strong community of readers, where there is support rather than stigma? And what if we use Kindles to encourage voluminous reading?
There’s no guarantee that this will work. But it did last year with a similar group, when students gained more than a grade level in their reading in less than two months.
The intervention will run until June, at which point the teacher and I will analyze the data and see how the students did. In addition to reading scores, we’ll look at some other metrics to determine the success of the program.
By high school, most teachers don’t teach students how to read. There’s an assumption that students either know how or they don’t. If they don’t, that’s too bad.
That’s partly because high school teachers rarely learn about reading in their teacher preparation programs. I remember that I took a reading course two or three years after I received my preliminary credential. Things are likely different now, but any way you slice it (that’s the first time I’ve ever written that), high school teachers aren’t equipped to help students who struggle to read.
We must change this. I’m happy that I get to work with teachers who are.
An example: One teacher in Hayward has founded a reading cohort this year. Teachers meet once a month to talk about how they can teach reading better. Their basic text is Reading for Understanding, which I like. Mostly, they share ideas and try things. I get to attend the meetings, too.
Here are a few posters they made for the classroom:
My favorite thing about this teacher and her colleagues is that they’re not waiting for some expert to tell them “the right way” to teach reading. They don’t expect some important person from the Common Core to deliver a PD. They don’t look to me for all the answers. I’m happy they don’t — because it’s clear that there’s no one right way.
More important than any specific strategy is the consistent consciousness of teaching reading, the professional intent, the deliberate commitment. Little activities are nice, but they’re only effective when teachers think reading is important and are engaged in inquiry around what works.