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Posted by on in Literacy

 

THIS. I read that 775 million adults lack minimum literacy skills. One in five adults, two thirds of them, women. Not so bad, or staggering, depending on our perspective. Sobering, 60.7 million children are out of school and more drop out. Is this acceptable? As a nation of readers, we believe that the joy of reading is a joy forever. But we know, that reading generally leads to better jobs and ability to cope with an ever changing political and social environment.

There are several kinds of literacy, perhaps we are considering math, science and other disciplines. For my purposes here, let's stay with the notion of literacy as being able to read, write and master basic language needed for daily life.

However, Literacy Day actually casts a wider net, celebrating advances and needs remaining in math, digital competency, technical skills and softer skills needed for success in today's rapidly changing economy and every day world of work.

Today, September 8th is International Literacy Day, or World Literacy Day. In 1966 United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Sept. 8th each year as International Literacy Day, focusing on literacy for all. First celebrated in 1967, the day highlights the need for literacy in many facets of daily life.

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Posted by on in Literacy

Michigan Judge Stephen Murphy III recently ruled children do not have a fundamental right to learn to read and write. This long lasting, far reaching decision responded to a lawsuit filed in 2016 by Public Counsel, for plaintiffs, students in five of Detroit's most poorly performing schools, including public and charter. 

The case was called Gary B v. Synyder. It named, among others, Governor Snyder, Michigan Board of Education etc. The 136 page complaint, highlighted need for literacy and adequate education for all Detroit schoolchildren, as well as remedies for lack of appropriate facilities, class sizes, learning conditions and access to the proverbial level playing field for beleagured students.

I really don't know where to start or what to say. It is so disheartening to read the backstory of the Michigan Judge's decision that children don't have a fundamental right to literacy.

I saw the story on Twitter about a week ago, have been knocking it around in my head until I found a day to cocoon, do significant research and then write what I think. So that is exactly where I am and not really happy about it. It's just stuck in my head and heart.

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Posted by on in Literacy

Young boy reading manga

I've had a couple of parents approach me recently with questions akin to: "How do I get my child to read something else besides graphic novel? I want him to read real chapter books." To which I say: "Why do you need to do this?" If your child is reading graphic novels, then he is reading. Graphic novels are real books. If your child is reading graphic novels avidly, then my suggestion is not to try to push him to chapter books. My suggestion is to find him more graphic novels.

Now, I will concede one issue that I've run into due to my daughter's devotion to graphic novels. There just aren't as many graphic novels as there are chapter books. This means that we can actually run out of books for her to read that are even remotely age appropriate (and believe me, I have stretched this upwards). She doesn't help matters by having only passing interest in fantasy - she wants thick, realistic graphic novels only. And she pretty much has all of the ones I can find that she can understand. She simply reads those over and over again. I'm fairly sure she must know Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham's Real Friends by heart.

Because of this shortage I have tried introducing some notebook novels into the mix. These still have plenty of illustrations, but also have more text. My daughter is having none of it. This means that unless I can find new graphic novels that she likes, she ends up reading less. Which is certainly not the goal. But I personally think it would be worse to push her to read books that she's not interested in. So I don't.

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Posted by on in Literacy

I had the opportunity to listen to a keynote by Stephen Sroka last week.  At one point, Dr. Sroka took out a little bottle of bubbles, took a deep breath, and blew bubbles into the audience.  He took three breaths and blew bubble three times to simulate relaxation breathing. I sat there thinking that I wanted to use this technique in my classroom. I know that physical activity helps to reduce stress and anxiety as well as stimulate the mind. Purposeful breathing paired with reflection helps open the mind to deep thinking. I wondered if there was a way to incorporate movement, breathing, and discussing, so I began brainstorming ideas to combine all three.  This led to an activity I call Bubble Discussions.

This activity involves all three with the idea that in order for students to participate in deep-thinking conversations, they need to feel respected, calm, and stimulated to engage effectively.

Step 1:  Students read a meaningful text.  The topic of this short text (no more than two pages) is high-interest with multiple interpretations possible.

Step 2:  The teacher chooses quotes from the text to display around the room.  In addition to these quotes, the teacher may choose to include visuals (pertaining to topic) and quotes from other power texts.  Between 8-12 pieces of paper are hung around the room.

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Posted by on in Literacy

For the first time, maybe ever, I can't keep up with my reading.

My stack of novels grows, but I don't speed read these. I savor every word. Reading for information is different, I can adjust my rate to match the material, and routinely do so. I find myself reading a mixture of info-text online, newpapers and books. I don't use a Kindle. Just never wanted to. Always liked the feel of a book in my hands, pictures, the miracle of what lies in between the covers.

I also spend time popping onto Twitter, teacher and leadership chats, reading blogs, checking my emails, reading links to various research sites, both good and not so good. My two Facebook pages are time intensive. Besides cat videos, I scour a lot of relevant research on various things I'm interested in.

We spend time working with kiddos on their reading fluency, but I'm thinking now that we all could stand a refresher course, mini-lesson Twitter style, how to pick up our own pace, to meet vast needs, keeping current in our minute to minute changing world. The future is now. What works for kids, works for us too, so use these reminders for your students or yourself. You might enjoy online or old fashioned personal charting of your increased speeds, by following one or more of these success secrets.

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