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29 July 2015 @ 03:22 pm
Read Allowed?  
I followed a link on Facebook to this post from Ed Week from 5 years ago: http://mobile.edweek.org/c.jsp?cid=25919951&bcid=25919951&rssid=25919941&item=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.edweek.org%2Fv1%2Few%2F%3Fuuid%3D0882B75E-F93A-11DE-A69F-03F4BAC0C963. The headline screams that reading aloud is gaining favor with those who work with teens. Really? This is (was) news? Articles on reading aloud dates backs more than 100 years but somehow Ed Week finds this newsworthy? I read aloud to all my classes back in the 70s and 80s and 90s. I still do when I am in FTF situations. And I know I am not and have not been alone. For Ed Week to claim it as something new and revolutionary is just plain wrong. But the headline is not the worst.

Let's begin with the photo of a teacher roaming the rows of desks ostensibly reading a picture book and showing kids the pictures as she walks. Um, really?

But, wait, there's more. Ed Week claims most research on reading aloud has been conducted with elementary students. Perhaps there is a kernel of truth there, but the fact is that the research on reading aloud spans K-adult learners. And in study after study, the research metaanalysis showed gains for participants in reading comprehension, vocabulary, sentence structure, and (most importantly) in positive attitude toward reading. The one piece of research cited made me cringe. Not from the research, but from the way Ed Week referred to the investigator, an associate professor, as Ms. and not Dr.

Move on. Voices of dissent arise. A teacher states that no one should read everything to kids or they will come to depend on read aloud and it will become a crutch. Are (were) there classrooms where teachers read everything> Doubtful. Then someone from ourside of education weighs in:

"Robert Pondiscio, the communications director for the Core Knowledge Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Charlottesville, Va., that promotes a curriculum based on core academic content, said he has reservations about teachers’ reading aloud to adolescents. “The need to do this at all seems to be a way of glossing over poor reading skills and poor content knowledge that should have been addressed in elementary school,” he said."

Even though this article is 5 years old, I can hear the echo of the architects of CCSS and NCLB.

Ignoring the research on reading aloud is ridiculous. Misrepresenting it is just as harmful. I was pleased to see Paul Hankins quoted at the end as he talks about dramatic readings of OF MICE AND MEN. I know Paul reads aloud for more than dramatic effect, too. As I was working on this blog post today, Karin Perry and I are sitting in a room working on lots of projects. She and I both stop periodically to read items from Facebook or Twitter or something else we are reading. I think neither of us are using this as a "crutch." I do not think this interferes with close reading either.

Reading aloud is a time for sharing. It is not a time for Q and A (even if you call it interactive read aloud, this is inappropriate). It is a time when we demonstrate, we immerse, we model, we provide. Let's keep our eyes and ears on the prize. Reading (and reading aloud) is its own reward.
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