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12 August 2014 @ 07:57 pm
Commodification revisoted  
Donalyn Miller's blog post today reminded me again of he practice of commodification in education. Here is her brilliant post:http://bookwhisperer.com/2014/08/12/the-40-book-challenge-revisited/. She sets the record straight AGAIN about the 40 Book Challenge. She writes, " In a nutshell, the 40 Book Challenge invites students to read 40 books across different genres during the school year...The 40 Book Challenge isn’t an assignment you can simply add to outdated, ineffective teaching practices. The Book Challenge rests on the foundation of a classroom reading community built on research-based practices for engaging children with reading. "

It is often tempting to take practices and commodify them. I have seen it done with workshop, literature circles, and reading aloud. A recent doctoral dissertation focused on reading aloud practices in some elementary schools. What was described as reading aloud was, to me, an interactive reading lesson. Educators paused and asked questions during the read aloud. There were questions and activities that followed. Gone was what I would describe as reading aloud, the practice of reading a text aloud to a class. I generally used reading aloud as something that was pleasurable (and that helped get the kids settled in as well, a bonus). There were not worksheets and questions and logs to complete.

This is not to say that I cannot read aloud a text to introduce a lesson or to serve as a mentor text. I can. But then, what I do is not reading aloud. It is using a picture book or a passage as a mentor text. Or following up the reading of DEAR DEER with a discussion of homophones, homonyms, and homographs. If every time I read aloud, there is some activity, soon kids would eschew the reading aloud. Commodification takes a perfectly good practice and makes in onerous for students.

Kids need to have times when they read a book and do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Stop the commodification, please. Challenge kids. Don't defeat them.
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