Guest post by Derek Fialkiewicz
I teach math as my father did before me, so I have always considered myself to be a “math nerd.” I find math fun and am proud of my students’ achievement, but when I became an assistant principal, I was forced to consider student achievement and learning outside of my math bubble. I came to better understand that while my students achieved in math, many were struggling as readers. This was a perfect opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and entice students to read. (more…)
Guest post by Lesley Corner.
Literacy is the ability to read and write, but at Camden High School, we’ve expanded that definition to include speaking and listening. Students must have the capacity to apply these skills not only at school, but outside of the academic setting as well to communicate effectively and compete globally. Camden High School takes a cross-curricular approach to promote literacy both within and outside of our school through two courses in our Freshmen Transition Program that focus on literacy development, our community summer reading program, a schoolwide literacy learning network, and the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC). (more…)
Guest post by Judy Brunner:
The idea that everyone is a ‘teacher of reading’ is nothing new. As a middle and high school principal, I embraced the idea in an attempt to encourage teachers to use specific types of teaching methods. At the time, I believed it was a way to persuade content specialists to routinely use vocabulary and comprehension strategies when the lesson involved print.
Looking back through the lens of experience, I now wonder if my literacy salesmanship was counterproductive. First, let’s acknowledge that middle and high school teachers ARE content specialists. They love their fields of study and work diligently to help their students do the same. So should we really be discouraged when an Advanced Placement chemistry teacher questions the necessity of being a reading teacher, too? Absolutely not.
Instead of asking ‘Are we all teachers of reading?’ why don’t we ask ‘Do we ever quit learning to read?’ The answer to the first question is not definitive, but the answer to the second is most certainly ‘No’. Secondary educators understand – but occasionally need to be reminded – that reading is a skill like any other. We are all getting better or getting worse. The adage ‘practice makes perfect’ fits on every level. Read routinely; read a variety of genres; read for information; read for pleasure. It all contributes to vocabulary acquisition and the ability to gain knowledge from print.
Facilitators of Learning With Print
While I don’t believe we must all be teachers of reading, we MUST all be facilitators of learning with text. Text can be traditional, electronic or multi-media, but it always involves learning from print and images.
Use the salesmanship of the principal’s position to change the paradigm from teaching reading to facilitating learning. The strategies for learning the course content will be the same – vocabulary and comprehension techniques that are research based – but the mindset will be different. As Albert Einstein said, “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” Understand the skepticism of the secondary educator, and change the framework.
Judy Brunner (@JudyBrunner) will be presenting at Ignite ’14 on Friday, February 7. Join her for Are We All Teachers of Reading? Maybe Yes. Maybe No. For more information and to register visit www.nasspconference.org.