Monday, December 1, 2008

MELS Reading Workshop

I attended another wonderful workshop today. It was all about the reading competency. Although it has been far too long since my last entry, I just had to write tonight.

It is incredible to me that in this group, avid readers who love books and teaching language arts, there are so many negative reading experiences. So many people talk about having bad feelings about themselves as readers at some point in their lives.. Others talk about flying under the radar and not really understanding what they read for a long time.

This is all so very different from my own experience. I was surrounded by books from an early age. When it wasn’t books, it was my father reciting poetry from memory. One morning, my mother found me with a stack of Dr. Seuss books. I announced that I could read them, and I could! I never looked back. Books were always there to be my friends when no one else would.
I have so many warm memories of books. My parents read aloud to me, rich books like “The Jungle Book”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “The Hobbit”, and “Anne of Green Gables”. I lent books I had read myself to my mother so that she could read them and discuss them with me. I was allowed to stay up an extra hour in the evenings as long as I was reading in bed. This is how I stormed through the Little House Books. When I graduated university as a teacher, my mother gave me picture books – “Thank-you Mr. Falker”, and “Koala Loo”. No gift could have been more meaningful.

In part, it is my love of reading that I hope to share with my students.

I will leave this workshop with a sense of urgency about reading instruction. We learned today that children need to develop the strategies and skills for decoding, understanding, and processing printed text by age 10-11. This age is just beyond that of the children I teach. I will be returning to my class with a new eye toward those students who are “learning at their own level and their own pace” but are not quite up to scratch. How can I support them to ensure that they not only love to read, but are learning to do it well?

The Assessment part of the workshop is tomorrow. I hope to write again with further thoughts.

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