Monday, January 10, 2005


Tests and Meanings

Mike Levy and Jeff V both talked about the reading child who reads everything, including the back of cereal packets as a response (I think) to my argument that checking understanding may not be the way to encourage reading.

Mike said: I read cereal boxes at breakfast as a child, advertisements, virtually anything that appeared before me (still do). ..., but also those awkward, educator-approved controlled vocabulary reading sets, the kind where each child is tested and assigned a set of readings on some wholesome topic at exactly their reading level. I loved those things in elementary school and was pleased every time I finished a set and moved up to another level.

There are two points here: the children I was referring to at the time (a reminder to myself to clarify this point) are those who are being taught to read by reading aloud to the teacher, who checks as they go that they are understanding what they have read. These are not the Reading Child.

If a child becomes a Reading Child, then those graded readers become only one of many books in the hand (and on the chair, and by the bed) and the whole exercise becomes a game in which the child gets constant ego-boo. (I can imagine a Reading Child tho' who is not a quick reader, for whom they become an obstacle in the way of the books he wants to read).

For the Child Reader, if they become either the only or the majority of the books read, and comprehension tests become permanently associated with reading, then the chances of reading seeming like fun will probably diminish.

Alison said...

My daughter is a seven-year-old of the steer round lamp-posts type...She's highly resistant to the book analysis that the school encourages. They want her to write about every book she reads; I'm not very supportive of this because I know firsthand from people who found that terribly destructive

You'ld think people would learn from their own experiences as adults on this one. As a book reviewer, it's amazing how much less appealing even something I want to read can become when someone says "500 words by Monday".


Blogger Lazygal said...

Oh can I relate! We had those SRA tests (back in the dark ages) and we self-timed during various reading periods. My teachers refused to believe that I was timing myself correctly and, when they timed me, that I understood what I was reading. Luckily, my parents were Reading Parents and very supportive because those teachers (2nd and 3rd grade) were enough to turn anyone off books for life!

5:25 AM  
Blogger Alison Scott said...

Thinking about the process of reading books and writing about them as an adult; statistically no adults read books and write about them. I mean, you do, and I do a bit (though not all that much) and probably most of your readers do. But the normal population doesn't at all, and that includes teachers. If they read books at all (and I bet there are plenty of teachers who don't read for pleasure) then it's just for the joy of reading. So they perhaps don't realise what a ropey exercise it is.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Farah said...

Alison, you are quite right about teachers not reading. I nearly choked when I found out that my (yet to be) girlfriend's then girlfriend--and English teacher--preferred watching football to reading, and hand't read a novel she didn't have to teach in months.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

This doesn't surprise me either. I teach large numbers of future elementary or early childhood educators and about half of them aren't readers of anything in particular.

11:11 AM  

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