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15 May 2015 @ 09:07 am
Good news & bad news  
A post on a listserv made me smile and then made me want to shriek. It began with a librarian telling us of a history teacher in the building who wanted to start having kids read books about history, even historical fiction, if kids could learn something about history from the reading. So, this librarian was seeking recommendations. So, why the desire to shriek? It is two-fold.

One, before crowd-sourcing titles, I would hope that a professional might list titles he or she already knows, has in the collection, can recommend, etc. I think sometimes this sort of open call for titles needs to be mitigated a but, too, by giving us more information. What grade? What, if any, books have they used? What books might already be in the collection? Give me more data.


But the real cause of shrieking on my part was the end of the posting: the history teacher would require the kids to take an AR test after reading. As a professional, here is where I might turn to the history teacher and ask WHY, WHY, WHY???

If you truly wish for kids to do some learning of history through their reading, how does having them all take multiple choice tests over insignificant details from the text, lower end comprehension questions, help you reach that goal?

Related, WHY, WHY, WHY are professionals supporting this type of read and test approach to reading? I am pairing this post with some new research reported here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150512140852.htm#.VVQJKUMubxM.facebook (and thanks, Donalyn Miller, for the link).

The emphasis on scores seems to be counterproductive. There is sufficient research that AR does not promote independent reading or intrinsic motivation. A history teacher who thinks that correct answers on a multiple choice test will demonstrate what readers have gained from reading NF and historical fiction seems rather short-sighted at best (and just plain idiotic if truth be told). I would rather see the content teacher avoid using books than ruin reading those books for her students.

In an ideal world, I would hope the professional would develop a lovely list of books fro her or his own collection, offer to book talk some of them to the classes, and advise the teacher that there might be other ways to demonstrate what students have learned other than a test or a diorama. Perhaps some talk, some discussion, some sharing might lead to even more learning?
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