professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Blasts from the Past and Present Horrors

Reading levels and exiles continue to be obstacles set in the path of readers. This is NOT new as this piece from the New York Times can attest: This opinion piece, authored by an AUTHOR, dates back to 2009. Criticisms to programs such as Accelerated Reader predate this piece. See Betty Carter lay out the argument against AR in her piece from School Library Journal in 1996 ( or Linda Pavonetti et al and research about AR from The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy ( from 2007. Of course, I wonder why we need to continue to point out the flaws of applications of syllables and sentences and word counts and the like to a creative work of art.

But, the bottom line is, we need to do just that. I fought the AR fight when my grandkids, the former residents of the back bedroom, were in school. I tried to have them opted out of the AR program. Instead I was offered the chance to write quizzes for the books my residents of the back bedroom were reading, many of which were as yet unpublished or not widely for sale (yes, I often get ARCs and my kids would read them). I demurred as that would really defeat the purpose of giving my kids something they might actually LIKE to read and punish them by measuring their ability to retain "facts" for a quiz (and to get points and win prizes, too, beyond that portion that was their grade). Now I see other teachers dealing with these same issues.

Did you finish the required summer reading? Make a diorama. Read a book over the Thanksgiving break? Take the test. Get the points. No go away kid, you bother me (to quote an old comic actor). Make and take need to be replaced by TALK. Talk to me about the book you read. Tell me what you liked, found incredulous. Discuss how the author moved you to tears, giggles, anger, etc.

Terry Ley wrote about Directed Individualized Reading (kids read and then talk to teachers who have also read the book) in 1979 ( Nancie Atwell write IN THE MIDDLE in 1987. LESSONS FROM A CHILD pubbed in 1983. We have had decades of leaders sharing authentic reading and writing with kids. Yet, the corporate mentality still manages to leak into the classrooms. In some ways this is like the many-headed hydra. Cut off one head, two more grows in its place. Hmmm….. torches, anyone?
Tags: levels, lexiles, programs
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