10.01.2008

Meh.

That's how I feel about today. Just meh. Warning: not really editing this--instead of Tom Romano's "trust the gush and then craft," I'm just trusting the gush. . .

While I love and believe in reading aloud to my students, I am NOT a fan of whole-class readings of texts, meaning students volunteer to read. It's an eternal struggle for me to figure out ways to have them collectively read a text in class without us doing it as a whole group. Almost always, if we are reading in class, the students are working in groups to practice some sort of reading strategy and record on graphic organizers. Sometimes I do guided reading groups. But when I do the strategies in small groups, the students have been super-focused on the ones we've been learning about--visualizing, questioning the text, etc.--to the detriment of their comprehension in some cases. So, I planned to have us read as a whole group and then turn & talk/pair/share whatever you're calling it in order to practice summarizing/retelling today. Meh. Just meh. I was bored. They were bored. No one--meaning other students and me alike--really likes having to listen to students read, even if they are ok readers and volunteer. I know this isn't an effective way to make our way through text. I know this, and we did it anyway.

I think, in part, I wasn't listening to my own voice regarding best practices. My ICS teacher and I had had a discussion last week about them being too focused on the strategies, so I guess I pulled back into a way too traditional approach in an attempt to balance it out. I knew this wasn't an authentic way for me to teach, and I did it anyway. They did what I asked, and they were ok about it, but did it benefit them? Meh.

The main issue here, I'm beginning to think, is I was expecting students to move from me modeling a strategy to them applying it to texts they need to comprehend without enough guided practice. I haven't been spending enough time after I model to allow them to try with mentor texts that aren't the focus of our work for this short story unit. I've been rushing to keep up with colleagues, but why? It's not their business nor their place to tell me what my students need nor when. I'm not saying they are even making it so. I'm just succumbing to some sort of could-be pressure. And that is silly and foolish.

So I'm ready to not do this lesson again. I'm confident that, with a little more time practicing together, I can support my students through applying reading strategies to the texts we're working with without them becoming so focused on getting the strategy right that they forget the text.

This, of course, brings us to the argument THE NANCIE makes in The Reading Zone. She says stop with the strategy instruction now and just let them read, Goddamnit (not in so many words). This, of course, comes along with the implication that they should at all times being reading what they choose to read. And the more and more I see a sea of readers plunging into their independent reading books, the more I agree wholeheartedly. You should see them. They sit and they read. The non-reader moved away from his two cronies today because he was distracted. Let me repeat. The non-reader moved away from his two cronies today because he was distracted AND WANTED TO READ HIS BOOK. Small victories, small victories.

Tomorrow, it's Writing Workshop. I've got some great ideas lined up for them to start analyzing their audience for editorials they're getting ready to draft. Will update.

2 comments:

enc said...

I've seen this happen, the technique becoming the focus, versus the content (whether it's inadvertent or not). It's no crime to focus on technique; the mistake would be keep going with a format that doesn't seem to work the way you want it to, or to go against your intuition, which appears to be right, every time.

That was cumbersome and verbose. I hope you know what I meant.

teach people not books said...

i hear you. it's just that they want to fulfill what i'm asking them to do, and they've done so to the detriment of their comprehension. a direct conversation with them about this will help, too.