Tuesday, March 27, 2012

When Kids Won't Read

Those of you who know me/survived grad school with me may remember the book When Kids Can't Read: What Teachers Can Do. I love this book. I internalized it's message of modeling great reading behaviors like predicting and thinking aloud. I believed that kids who can't read (not necessarily can't decode) need us to show them some access points. So, armed with some other reading strategies, I set off to get my reluctant readers interested in the written word.

Part of the problem is that I don't just teach reluctant readers. I also teach kids who are very capable readers but aren't confident in their reading ability or aren't sure college is a goal for them. I also think some of them just don't care. Obviously, it's my job to help them see why they ought to care, but I thought I'd gotten a little more buy-in on first block's first whole-class novel Things Fall Apart.

Monday, however, I realized that no one had read the last ten chapters of the book. I'd done reading checks, we'd had class discussions that connected colonialism and parental alienation to our own lives for the first fifteen chapters. After that, I thought I had them. I thought that the summative assessment would serve as our final reading check.

I was so wrong. We had a long talk yesterday about how I hope they go to college and fix the education system to include more student choice. About how some times you have to work at things that don't make sense in the moment. About why studying English matters and how I need them to trust me to help them practice those skills. This conversation served mostly to mask my anger. These aren't my kids from difficult situations. These are kids with two parents at home and collegiate aspirations.

I handed out the review sheet and told them to finish the book and call me with any questions.

What would you have done?


jaldenfig said...

The same thing happens with law students who are paying six figures to get a J.D. (and many are taking out loans in their OWN name!)

Maggie said...

That is oddly comforting.