It is critical to advance our students' language and literacy. Currently, "kids are not reading what they need to be reading." (M.J. Adams/American Educator) This project will impact three classes of students...about 75 children. As one of three reading teachers for fifth graders at my school, I was challenged by training I received this summer: I was moved into a whole new room of understanding about what texts I must use to instruct my students.
Providing students with splendidly engaging complex texts ultimately creates in them the capacity for language, information and modes of thought they need to become better readers and better students.
Rich literature leads children into the kind of rich conversation and ultimately into deeper thinking than frivolous books or those written to simply entertain. Graphic novels have their place, but the thought of a mature adult spending precious time reading them is ridiculous on the face of it. So why make these books available to children as a viable reading option in the classroom? Publishers are making quality complex literature readily available and I want to provide THIS kind of book to my students through my classroom library.
This year I will teach reading differently because I (and about 450 of my colleagues) recently attended the Standards Academy. What I learned there was astonishing. Research shows that children do not know how to read as well as they did 50 years ago! In order to overcome this appalling condition, "All students must read and comprehend literary and informational text of [on] grade-level complexity, including poetry, drama and narrative, history/social studies, science and technical texts, independently and proficiently." (Liben and Liben)
I need more engaging nonfiction texts and a good mix of biographies and some fiction text that contain the rich and satisfying stories that will lead my students to fall in love with reading while engaging in complex texts.
I seek to launch an attack on this alarming situation through a multi-faceted approach which includes using these weapons already in my arsenal: More emphasis on effective grammar instruction (not worksheets), daily opportunities to increase fluency (stamina), and finally, accountability for independent reading and shared reading of the most complex and challenging texts to support struggling readers. The students in my room will read a huge amount of quality literature while I work smarter to build in more support for students grappling with reading challenges without "dumbing down" the texts I make available to them. I hope you will help me in my effort to make an impact on my students' ability to read and comprehend complex text. I am not alone in this campaign: I am on this quest with many other teachers in my school and in my district. Note: All texts purchased through this grant are hardcover or libary bound for the ultimate amount of endurance in a high usage environment.
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