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Reading (an excerpt from "The Literacy Cookbook")

Reading (an excerpt from "The Literacy Cookbook")

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An excerpt from Chapter 2 of Sarah Tantillo's The Literacy Cookbook, available here: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118288165,descCd-buy.html

An excerpt from Chapter 2 of Sarah Tantillo's The Literacy Cookbook, available here: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118288165,descCd-buy.html

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Published by: Jossey-Bass Education on Dec 05, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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09/17/2013

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c h a p t e r
T W O
Reading
DECODING + FLUENCY AND COMPREHENSION = READING
As our discussion of comprehension should have made plain, reading is not likemaking Kool-Aid: you can’t just add water and stir. Some people think decodingalone is reading. I’ve heard teachers say, ‘‘They can read the words on the page,but they have no idea what they’re saying.’’
If students do not comprehend, they’renot fully reading yet 
.Our job as teachers is twofold: (1) explain to parents what we mean by ‘‘reading’’ and how they can help, and (2) teach students how to read. Of course,this sounds much simpler than it is.Regarding Job 1, I highly recommend Jim Trelease’s
Read-Aloud Handbook
,which makes a compelling case for why parents
must 
read to their children andhow it will boost their academic performance. He notes that in reading aloud, weaccomplish the following: ‘‘condition the child’s brain to associate reading withpleasure; create background knowledge; build vocabulary; provide a reading rolemodel.’’
1
Moreover, as Trelease points out, ‘‘Nobody has a favorite vowel or afavorite blend. What motivates children and adults to read more is that (1) they like the experience a lot, (2) they like the subject matter a lot, and (3) they likeand follow the lead of people who read a lot.’’
2
Parents need to understand how vital their role is in this regard: what a huge impact it can make—and how easy it is, really—to read aloud to their children. Presenting a parent workshop basedon Trelease’s book would be a great way to build enthusiasm at the beginning of the school year. In subsequent years, parents could stand up and give testimonialsto encourage their peers.Now for Job 2: if your students cannot sound out words, you have to startthere, with decoding and phonics instruction. This book is not a phonics primer.
45
 
Kylene Beers provides a useful introduction to the world of phonics.
3
Here aretwo helpful Websites for teachers
and 
parents:Starfall describes itself as ‘‘a free public service to teach children to read withphonics.’’ It provides various activities for child-directed instruction.(http://www.starfall.com)MeeGenius ‘‘features beautifully illustrated and engaging e-books withRead-Along Technology, so that budding readers develop word recognitionby seeing words while hearing them pronounced.’’ It offers free and low-costaccess to classic children’s literature. (http://www.meegenius.com)My main point in bringing up decoding is that we need to keep our eyeson the ball: we need to make sure
all 
of our students are reading on gradelevel, and if they’re not, we need to help them get there. I’ve been in too many schools where their policy of social promotion enables the adults to shirk thisresponsibility. In many failing schools and districts, students enter kindergartenunable to read—and then are not taught to read well enough to catch up. Parentsdon’t want their kids to fail. And, of course, kids don’t want to be held back. Butwhen they reach third grade and can’t read the standardized tests, they won’t passthose tests. And so it will continue in fourth grade, fifth grade, and onward. If they keep getting promoted, they might make it to high school. But they won’tgraduate. I don’t know why anyone is
surprised 
at the high dropout rates in somedistricts. When you think about it, if you were in ninth grade and could barely read, you’d feel angry, frustrated, and depressed, too. In this situation, faced withthe prospect of several more years of failure, dropping out would seem like alogical decision.So—we have work to do.About fluency, Lemov asserts that it ‘‘consists of automaticity plus expressionplus comprehension,’’
4
and I agree. In order to read expressively, you have tounderstand what you’re reading. Modeling dramatic reading for students willhelp. Giving them practice will also help. Partner reading can make this processmore efficient, and you can reconvene the whole class to share highlights andreinforce key points: ‘‘Who wants to read the part where
. . .
?’’ It’s importantto have fair expectations of students who, unlike you, are not reading Hamlet’ssoliloquy for the four-hundredth time. No matter how students perform, you canalways find a way to put a positive spin on it. As Lemov notes, if someone deliversa performance that is too wooden, you can respond: ‘‘OK, now that you’ve got
46
The Literacy Cookbook
 
the words, let’s go back and read it with energy. This is an exciting part of thebook!’’ And if the reading was done well, it wouldn’t hurt to repeat it: ‘‘Oh, thatwasgreat!Canyoureaditagainsowecanallhearhowsurlyyoumadeitsound?’’
5
In Chapter One, we addressed the comprehension process and the four key critical reading skills. Beyond providing students with a basic understanding of comprehension and the required skills, we must also train them in how to read
strategically 
. More on this in a moment. First, a commercial interruption fornonfiction.
NONFICTION VERSUS EVERYTHING ELSE
Label the following genres as NF (nonfiction) or F (fiction). Even if you think some could be
both
, pick the one that is
mostly 
true.
Novels FNewspaper articlesMath textbook passagesScience textbook passagesSocial studies textbook passagesInformational text on state assessmentsNarrative passages on state assessmentsMagazine articlesWikipedia entriesLetters to the editorEditorialsDirections for appliancesCredit card billsResearch studiesThe scroll on CNN and other news channelsMost of the passages on the PSAT, SAT, and GRE
Then turn the page.
Reading
47

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