Day 5–Leading Literacy with Dr. Pamela Mason

12 Jul

Read this:

Arocdnicg to rsceearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pcale. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit pobelrm. Tihs is buseace the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

I’m sure many of you have seen this before. Basically, your brain, with the help of an immense bank of prior knowledge and a collection of words you have gathered over a literate life, can construct meaning by just seeing the first and last letters of a word. In fact, you don’t need to read every letter anymore. However, we have many kids who have done so little reading that they still have to examine every letter to build a word. Imagine the frustration! Imagine trying to read this post, sounding out every letter, then trying to make meaning out of it.  Try it! Go back and start this paragraph over, but pronounce every letter until the word makes sense. Many of our kids read this way…Reading is a responsibility for everyone, not just Language Arts…not just schools…everyone!

What is a reading program? Is it something you buy, or something you teach? We have some very good programs at MCHS, but the key is the teaching. The teaching has to based on making positive relationships with the kids. They need to feel un-threatened by reading. We need to create what Dr. Mason calls “Communities of Practice” concerning reading. COPs are groups where the members have the same task, they learn together, and they build relationships around the task. The members of a true Community of Practice develop an identity through their membership. So, isn’t every school a COP? There is a common goal, an identity, relationships…right? Not exactly, in a COP the relationships have to be close enough that the members are accountable to each other. Everyone is valued, haas a voice, and feels engaged. …more later…

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