Thursday, February 10, 2011

Literacy Training

Today I want to discuss literacy. When I use the word “literacy” I mean the ability to read and to understand what you read. Every school district must assure that its students can read well and understand what they have read. Reading is a “gatekeeper” skill that affects every curricular area “life skill” of students. Literacy curriculum and instruction can be conceptualized in the following framework.

In K-3, schools must make sure that students have the foundation to be able to read. Foundational skills include letter and word recognition and lots of practice reading in the curriculum. At RASD, teachers at this level make sure that students are receiving rigorous reading instruction, but that the students are also receiving all of the help they need if they are struggling. Teacher teams pour over data to identify students that may need help and then design interventions that will assist the students in improving their reading skill.

In grades 4-8 (now that a solid foundation is in place) students must have the ability to “immerse themselves in the text” and be able to interpret text. In other words, they need to be able to understand what the text is saying at a deeper level. The students must also start to develop critical thinking skills at this time. School districts must make sure that children are “thinking for themselves” and not looking for the answers to problems that they think the adults in the room want them to say. I believe that schools must encourage writing at this level because putting words and ideas to paper is one skill that can help students become better critical thinkers. The RASD middle school is starting to make sure that all curricular areas are focusing on reading and understanding text.

In Grades 9-12 students must deepen their critical thinking ability and start to have action based on what they read. If society wants the United States to become a vibrant democracy then citizens must have the ability to read, reflect and act. At the very least, society should not want citizens to become easily hoodwinked by multi-national marketing ploys or government. This is an ideal framework that I hope will help you understand literacy training better.

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