Two blogkheads are better than one.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ask Your Students - Why Do You Read?

I had two ah-ha moments this morning. One about teaching reading and the other about blogging.

I just spent two days watching some full day kindergarten programs. Both programs were pretty different in terms of their curricular programming and instructional delivery, but both had their kids reading at high levels. I saw a lot and took many notes. As I was rereading my notes and reflecting on what I saw, I took a break to catch up on some of the blogs that I follow. On Stephanie Sandifer's blog Change Agency, she wrote a post titled Love of Reading… and my fear…. In her post, she was actually reflecting on another blog post by Angela Maiers. In her post, Angela describes a scenario of watching her son “get through” his weekly reading assignment, after which he tells her:
“Mom, I hate reading. I did not want to tell you that, ’cause I know that it’s your job and reading is a big deal to you, but I really really hate it. I dream of the day when I will never have to do reading again. If I was on a dessert island, I would rather die of starvation, than read a book. And, if you think I am weird or something, you gotta know, all my friends feel exactly the same way.”
Stephanie reflected on this quote and wrote:

My beautiful 15 month old twins are voracious “readers” right now. They LOVE their books and will spend a great deal of time every day “reading” as many of their books as they can. Not only do they love to crawl into my lap with a book and demand that I read it to them, they also sit by themselves, flipping pages, and babbling as they stop on each page. They point to the pictures and tell me the story in their own words. Of course they aren’t reading the words on the page — but they get the concept and most importantly, they LOVE the concept of reading a book.

My biggest fear is that someday, somewhere, some teacher will destroy their love of reading by giving them “reading assignments” that make reading feel more like a chore rather than a pleasurable activity.

I have never met Stephanie or Angela. Neither of them know who I am or that I am currently trying to digest my observations of two full day kindergarten programs. Nevertheless, their reflections based on their own experiences help me to crystallize my first ah-ha on what I had experienced.

Although both programs we visited had their students reading at high levels, I am not sure that the levels of intrinsic interest to read were the same. I think if you asked the students from both classes "Why do you read?", the answers would be different. How would you want your students to respond to that question? Would you want your students to say "to discover new things" or "because Mrs. So-and-so thinks it is important". The boy in this picture is my son Evan at age 4. He already loves reading. I would be devastated if he came home and told me what Angela's boy told her.

In education, because of the length of time it takes to achieve our final product (13 years) and student motivation being an integral part of achieving a quality result, the processes we employ to achieve each step along the way are critical to achieving our long term goals. I wrote a post titled Long Road Trips & Education: An Analogy on my other blog "blogkhead" back in August where I take this issue into more depth.

The other ah-ha about blogging... I'll leave for you to "infer" from what I've already written.

..Cross posted at kinderblogn.