professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Anchor Anger

There have been a couple of posts lately on Facebook and Twitter and blogs that have left me wondering left me scratching my head, left me perturbed at what Is happening in reading.

One post talked about assessing independent reading. I cringe when I see this. It is so easy to cross the line between assessment, true assessment and assigning grades for something that should, IMHO, be left relatively ungraded. Conferring with kids, classroom talk about the books they are reading--this is the extent of what I would hope for when it comes to assessment.

Today, I came across a post entitled 21 Anchor Charts that Teach Reading. Um, no. Anchor charts do NOT teach reading. To be fair, I think the title did not actually mean to indicate charts teach. Instead, there were charts about a wide array of literary elements and skills such as character development, plot structure, and point of view. However, there were also tons of charts focused on skills that included how to decode, cause and effect, main idea, etc.

I see loads of anchor charts on social media. I understand the role they can play. My concern is this: how many of these should be on display at any given time in a classroom? Is the classroom wallpapered in charts? Do we pull out some when it is time to talk about a particular text or skill? How many are needed? Is every chart for every reader?

I was particularly dismayed by charts telling students to circle, underline, highlight, number, etc. I have lived through this process as a parent and grandparent. We purchased massive amounts of highlighters during test prep when kids were instructed to highlight what was important in a text as they read. Trouble was, they could not always figure out what NOT to highlight. The web site with all the anchor charts also has loads of links to worksheets. It has posts sponsored by companies that produce products and programs. I guess that should have been a clue for me as well.

Don't get me wrong: I assess and evaluate. I spent some time this morning assessing summaries of readings my students did for their history of children's literature class. Next week I will assess annotated bibliographies for K-adult on themes of interest to their classrooms, schools, and/or districts. So, students are accountable. I do give grades. I do explain how to do assignments, provide examples (ones I have completed), include screencasts and videos (are these my anchor charts I wonder?).

I am in the catbird seat (see here for an explanation of this phrase:, I know. So perhaps I am being too harsh. Maybe I am confusing the term independent reading with something else. I am old. I am a curmudgeon. But I know if I had to highlight, number, circle, etc. I would soon lose interest in reading. Sometimes I just want to read, maybe reflect, then read some more.
Tags: anchor, anger, assessment
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