Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Reflections on Reading: What is our goal? What influences students?

By Kim Miklusak

Often we hear people bemoan a perceived or real decrease in sustained reading in our students.  Teachers express frustration that students don't read outside of class or are not reading at a level that teachers feel they should be at.

This year our Senior English students were doing independent reading choices for 20-60 minutes a week in class, and I know more classes have added this across all grades.  So as the Senior English teachers prepared for our Independent Reading Book Circles, I asked my students to do a brief journal entry on successes and barriers when it came to their reading.

In the words of Paulo Freire in Teachers as Cultural Workers: Letters to Those Who Dare to Teach, he says, "As a practical-theoretical context, the school cannot ignore the knowledge about what happens in the concrete contexts of its students and their families.  How can we understand students' difficulties during the process of becoming literate without knowing what happens in their experiences at home or how much contact they have with written words in their sociocultural context?"

I want to share some of their responses here.  They certainly caused me to step back and reflect as we set our goals and targets for our unit: was our goal a quiz at the end?  Was our goal just to finish a book?  Was our goal to inspire a love of reading?  In the end our goal was to have sustained dialogue about a reading both within one book circle and across books.

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