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05 August 2013 @ 06:56 pm
Skill. Drill. Kill.  
Thanks you, Twitter, for feeding me lots of topics for the blog of late. Even here in Sweden, with spotty internet, I have had no trouble finding absurdities. One particular atrocity I want to comment on has to do with new approaches to reading aloud offered by some of the folks cashing in on CCSS. A recent publication touted the "interactive" read aloud." What it actually is has little to do with reading aloud for any pleasure whatsoever. Instead, the interactive read aloud is ore like a worksheet done orally. Teachers read a bit, stop, ask questions and solicit answers. Repeat until, what, kids run screaming when you announce it is time to read aloud?

For me, there are a few reasons to read aloud. First and foremost, my aim is to welcome kids into the text, sometimes to whet an appetite or give a teaser about a longer book. Often I read aloud an entire book, especially picture books, just to share the wonderful language and illustrations that grace them. I will read aloud a poem hoping the rhythm comes across more readily than if it were to be read silently. I will read to introduce kids to a new genre or form or format. I will read if dialect might be an issue. But I do NOT stop and ask questions and hold discussions every few lines, paragraphs, etc.

We need to be aware of these bastardizations of actual practices. Reading aloud has a century of research behind it as an effective strategy in the classroom. That research extends from PK through adult learners. Just because the national reading panel report did not mention it did not mean it was not still essential. They elected not to include these pieces of research and instead focus on phonics. Reading aloud should NOT become the basis for skill, drill, kill learning. It is bad enough that we are subjected to out of context vocabulary lessons, close reading that borders on torture (just read it one more time, please? The 10th times the charm, I promise), and hucksters promising improved scores on the new tests if only kids know these _____ words.

Yes, I am pointing at the Emperor who is walking naked down Common Core State Standards Street. I am not alone, and that gives me courage. I know many of you are doing the same. I know as school begins you are carefully selecting that first read aloud. I know it will not be "interactive." Thank you for caring about that first story and all the others you will share with kids. Thanks for inviting kids into the reading club. We embrace ALL who want to join us. We wish to be the most INCLUSIVE club.
 
 
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