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06 February 2015 @ 10:54 am
5, 6, 7, READ!  
I have been percolating an idea since one of my #fancyphone calls with Donalyn Miller in which we solve the problems of the world, at least the reading world, one at a time. We had been talking about research, real and faux. You know the faux research well since reformist-types love to toss out one or two to demonstrate that what they are doing is research-driven. It is rather like the latest spate of anti-vaccine spokespeople who mention that there are some studies suggesting a link between vaccines and sudden onset mental illness. Our talk centered on some of the research that resulted in the FIVE PILLARS of reading instruction some years ago. In case you are not aware, when the 5 pillars were established, many research studies were ignored. Most notably ignored was research on reading aloud. Hence, no mention of reading aloud as being an important component of reading. And, thus, a wholescale abandonment of the practice of reading aloud in so many classrooms. You can read about the pillars here, but be forewarned as it focuses on phonics, phonemic awareness (don't you love how this is separated?), fluency (and how read aloud does not make it in here is a mystery I will never solve), vocabulary (ditto the need for reading aloud here), and comprehension. Honestly, I scratch my head when I examine this "research-driven" assertion that reading can be reduced to these 5 pillars.

Later, under CCSS, we get the six shifts in instruction. Again here is a link though do be forewarned: https://www.engageny.org/resource/common-core-shifts. Where to begin? I am dismayed by the separation of informational and literary texts. Good information text IS literary. And literary texts can also be informational, right? Knowledge in the Disciplines is basically what we called content-area reading for the last several decades (and this was a course I taught as I was working on my doctorate in the 1980s and 199s). Then, let's climb the Staircase of Complexity, shall we? After reading the Lexile bands and other information, I think this is better called PHD reading (as in Pile it Higher and Deeper). Next is Text-Based Answers. I am shaking my head because I have been asking questions about text and requesting kids refer to text for almost 40 years. Guess I was shifting before it was popular? Shift 5 is Writing from Sources where students use evidence in an argument. Am I in a time warp? I do recall working on argument and persuasion with my middle school kids in the 70s and 80s. Finally, there is the shift toward Academic Vocabulary. I downloaded a book on teaching the critical vocabulary of the common core. I want my money back. I got a book about critical verbs such as analyze, explain, trace. Then there was a chapter on critical nouns such as alliteration, rhetoric, and theme. And this "book" is one I would hope each one of us could write.

All this is prelude to the next series of posts I want to write: THE SEVEN VIRTUES OF READING. I like the sequence of 5 pillars, 6 shifts, and 7 virtues. There is also the resonance of motifs (that magic number 7) and echoes of my own Catholic school upbringing (7 cardinal virtues and 7 deadly sins: it might be fun to write about deadly sins when it comes to reading: DRILL, WORKSHEETS, BENCHMARKING, ROUND ROBIN READING, WHOLE CLASS NOVELS (Readicide), THE CANON, CENSORSHIP. Perhaps I will take on some of the sins down the road. For now, I think I will write about the virtues of reading. I have no clear list in mind right now, but I suspect I will find guidance as I begin. I hope you will come along, maybe even make suggestions.
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