Sunday, August 29, 2010

Another reason to de-block social networks

I have spent 4 days and considerable time beyond that this summer working with colleagues to draft a workable Reading Workshop program, k-8.  This is not a paradigm shift for me, but it once was.  I began 30+ years ago with a large literature text, the same text I found on the shelves of my new classroom 7 years ago today.  I closed it for good about 20 years ago and have not had the students open it once since (hyperbole, but not by much).  Unlike 50-50 reporting on the reading-value of SSR programs, current research overwhelmingly supports a reading workshop model with authentic reading tasks (fiction, poetry, drama, informational lit) at the "just right" reading level of each individual child.

Which makes teaching ELA more work and data-collection time-consuming.

Which may be large parts of the reason for the Milwaukee Public Schools to adapt k-5 and 6-8 literature/literacy/reading text series (the same by any name).  Here is a blog post about it from the Literacy Coaches group.  Be a good skimmer and read the 1st paragraph and the last.  You will get the gist.

Here is a blog post from a different forum about teaching the series (scroll down a little).  Perhaps Milwaukee should have included teachers in the decision-making.  I stopped here in my research into HM's series, but I could have gone on.

My point is this:  By accessing forum and blog posts, I have accessed authentic ideas and opinions, accessed new ideas, and been forced to evaluate my "1st response" to Milwaukee's decision.  I do this every day, all year by getting email feeds from my fav group (English Companion) and surfing for blog posts and articles in areas that interest me.  Although I like to learn on my own, I embrace the fact that I am not the only one interested in a topic or idea.

Isn't this what we really want our students to do as readers of informational text?  When we block them from reading and participating in social networking environments, we deny them this opportunity for authentic learning.

A last thought:  I wonder if Milwaukee opened its textbook selection committee to students? If I were that superintendent, I would have made it possible for students, teachers and parents to review and blog about the series choices for at least half of a year.  Authentic input = conversation = better decision-making = better education.

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