We don’t teach students to read so that they can successfully complete worksheets, answer end of chapter questions, write book reports, collect points on computerized book tests, or create dioramas or puppet shows. We teach students to read so that they can become thoughtful, self-motivated, self-sufficient, engaged, passionate, life-long readers. We teach them to read so that they can leverage the power of reading every day of their lives with real materials that they really choose for themselves based on real reasons that they really care about.
As adult readers, we don’t get prizes for reading, but reading does fulfill and reward us in many real ways. We don’t have quizzes after each chapter, yet we love to visit with others about what we have read, how we interpreted it, and how our ideas match or don’t match with theirs. We generally don’t read things we don’t comprehend or that are filled with difficult terminology we don’t understand. However, we will push ourselves through hard material when we’re motivated to find some nugget we believe is buried in its complicated contents. We don’t read things we don’t care about, but our interests do evolve and change with time and, therefore, so do the things that we read. We might read at our desks or at the kitchen table, but many of us prefer a favorite comfortable reading spot, recliner, couch, or chair. Ultimately, what, how, why, and where we read is unique to each of us.
The table below will help you to think about the difference between reading in the real world, reading in some classrooms, and the REAL Reading described on this site.
In the Real World
In Some Classrooms
In REAL Reading Classrooms
|Who Makes the Choice||Adults choose what they read based on personal interest||Teachers assign the texts that will be read||Students have real choice about what they read|
|Factors That Influence Choice||Recommendations from family, friends, co-workers||Books selection is pre-determined by the anthology, thematic unit, and/or strict adherence to assigned levels||Students make recommendations to each other through book talks|
|What Drives Engagement||Meaning is enhanced by others through conversations before, during, and after reading||Teacher asks questions to “test” understanding. Comprehension tests and quizzes are given.||Authentic discussion, reflection logs, and transfer of new learning to other areas|
|Reasons for Reading||The reader has a personal purpose, question, or passion||To answer questions that are predetermined by the teacher or textbook||Student has a personal purpose, question, or passion that is driving the reading|
|Determining Importance||Adults do close reading by highlighting, note taking, or annotation||Students are hunting for answers to questions determined by the teacher (or textbook company) to be important||Students use sticky notes and highlighters to annotate text, deciding for themselves what is important|
|Selecting Future Reading||Adults follow a natural progression from one text to another based on interest or desire to learn more.||Students move from one teacher selected text to another based on the teacher or textbook authors understanding of what the student should read next||Students are encouraged to follow a natural progression from one text to another based on interest or desire to learn more|
REAL independent reading and the companion tasks of thinking, writing, and talking about reading, are the most authentic of all literacy tasks. Arming students with the skills they need to succeed with independent reading is the ultimate goal of all other reading instruction. If you’d like to provide more authentic reading, writing, and discussion experiences for your students, consider subscribing to this blog. There’s so much more to come!