A story can put your whole brain to work.
Neuroscientists have studied which areas of the brain light up when people are listening to a story. Not only do our the language centers light up, sensory, emotional, and motor areas do as well. Now, I am not suggesting that we turn things over to neuroscience at all. I am simply observing here that listening to story activates the whole brain. If this is the case, there should be much more in CCSS about reading aloud and audiobooks. However, just as we saw with NCLB, reading aloud tends to disappear after the early elementary grades. And even though listening is deemed a standard in CCSS, there is nothing about listening to read alouds or audiobooks even mentioned in the 6-12 Standards. Instead listening at this level has to do more with listening to a formal presentation, argument, etc. Why do read alouds vanish? Why are audiobooks not indicated as one way of helping kids to become critical listeners? I think it goes back to a notion that some have that listening is passive and somehow akin to cheating. Active, critical listening can be achieved through practive. Reading aloud to kids and using audiobooks as one way to "read" is as essential as the standards CCSS identifies:
Comprehension and Collaboration 1. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. 2. Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally. 3. Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
Back to the article at hand. Here is another statement that I loved.
The simple story is more successful than the complicated one.
Wonder how this would ever jibe with CCSS? It would not. In this day of ever-increasing demands for rigor (mortis) and complexity (incomprehensibility), the simple story sometimes takes a back seat. What a huge loss! I think of the hundreds of picture books I have read this year: GREEN, HOUSE HELD UP BY TREES, GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE DINOSAURS, THIS IS NOT MY HAT, and OH! NO! These five books, should I elect to do so, could be used to teach a myriad of skills including archetypes and stereotypes, elements of plot, uses of dialogue and dialect, and much more. Moreover, because they are short and to the point, I can do this in less time and with more success. Yes, students should read challenging books from time to time. But why do we feel the need to bow before the gods of rigor and complexity when we KNOW that using picture books can provide not only instruction but ENJOYMENT as well?
So, thanks neuroscience for some interesting ways to light up my brain today. Off I go to read with my ears. Later, I will finish my eBook and maybe even have time to blog about the twenty of so picture book galleys on my "to be blogged" shelf.