Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Teaching Books: Do I Really Have to Teach Reading? by Cris Tovani

[I'm not going to try to review the books I'm reading as part of my transition to becoming an educator. However, I do want to at least do summaries, both for myself and if anyone's interested. Consider these mini-reviews, if you will.]

Do I Really Have to Teach Reading? addresses the idea that many students are not prepared to be strong readers when they get into your classroom. They may be on different levels, barely able to read, or afraid of reading that which is more challenging than they are used to.

Tovani offers a set of strategies to fight this problem over the course of the book, with worksheets that a teacher can use in their own classroom. This includes things like a double-diary (taking parts of a reading and relating them back to their own life), using alternative materials for those who struggle with a traditional textbook, ensuring that you are always teaching what helps you meet your objective, and using group work to help students understand different approaches.

There is a strong focus on the fact that there is not a one size fits all solution. Depending on the type of reading, a different strategy may be needed. It's also important, according to Tovani, to make sure that you as the teacher are constantly monitoring what works and what doesn't. An activity that may have helped in the past grows stale over time.

The key for Tovari is getting students engaged in what they are reading, and to really think in their heads rather than just parroting the material. This is true even for when a test is involved. For her, this is the only way learning happens and it is the only way a student will get better at reading.

A final note--Tovari is big on using sticky notes to express your feelings on a book, not just writing in the margins or highlighting a passage. Gives the commenter more room and allows the teacher to review the notes and give them back to the class. A very interesting idea!

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