Friday, January 28, 2011

The battle between 'the rules' and 'what's right'

The district is focusing on reading.

I thought that was kind of nice, when I heard it. I mean, it would have been good if they'd started promoting reading a while ago, but better late than never.

Of course, it's all very nice to say we're focusing on reading at the top level. But then it filters down to the school level. And at my school, that means compulsory guided reading. More specifically, every child must participate in a guided reading group, every week, in every classroom across the school.

When I first heard this, I was uneasy. Guided reading can be great when you want to focus on a particular book/topic/skill (it worked wonderfully with The Arrival), but I tend to use it as a 'some of the time' part of my Reader's Workshop - applying it when I think it will be most useful. Other times I focus on one on one conferences, slightly longer mini lessons, or getting through the endless reading testing they also insist we complete. Also, I was worried that the need to get through every child, every week would lead to surface reading, not the deep reading I desperately want the students to reach.

Since I first heard about this last year, I've continued to read about reading. One of my recent books was More Than Guided Reading by Cathy Mere. Althought this was aimed at the younger grades, a lot of her findings rang true with me. In her experience, just focusing on guided reading meant students were more dependant on the teacher, lessons tended to be teacher focused and the students were actually doing less reading. Guided reading was one tool, not the main tool.

And there lies my problem. Reader's Workshop has been working in my classroom over the last year and a half. I can see the results in the way students read, in their responses to text, in the way they write. And their test results are backing this up. But in the service of 'being consistent', I'm expected to drop or change this to follow their 'rules'.

How do we fight the battles of right and rules when those in charge don't read the research, or worse, the local research is so badly done? (I no longer trust any research coming from the University I went to). How do we teach for our students and our administrations? And when will administrations realise that teachers are individuals with their own individual strengths as well?

Picture from flickr


A Reader's Community

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Queensland, Australia
A Reader's Community is a place to find ideas, information, resources and recommendations about Reader's Workshop.

This Blog has five main types of posts.

About Reader's Workshop - information about Reader's Workshop in my classroom and how it works

Reader's Workshop Tools - resources you can access and use to help you with reader's workshop

Book talks - Book recommendations of two or three books centred around a particular theme

Book letters - in-depth reviews of one particular book

Reader's Workshop Links - Short links lists to help you find more information
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