Monitor: Idiot proof.
This stream in my Reading Rockets’ feed caught my attention today:
Along with her background as a researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.
I recently read a post about recognizing, teaching, and supporting self-monitoring behaviors in young readers. The post describes two readers: David, who asks questions and self corrects word errors as he reads, and Frannie, who plows through text regardless of errors that either change the meaning of the text, include nonsense words, or don’t make any sense at all. The author stresses how important it is for readers to think about what they are saying as they read. “From the very earliest reading experiences that we have with children, we need to send the message that reading is supposed to make sense and that it’s their job to be checking that their reading IS making sense.” See more at Catching Readers Before They Fall.
This post resonated with me because of Becca, a first grader I just started tutoring. She’s an on-grade level reader (Rigby 7/8, Guided Reading E) but she REALLY wants to be reading chapter books like some of her classmates. Her reading speed (about 60 words per minute) suggests that her fluency is still developing. She’s still a choppy, word-by-word reader. So, although she’s a bit slow, it’s partially because she does a great job monitoring her reading. She frequently stops and self corrects herself. She questions when her decoding attempt results in a non-word. She listens to herself and expects what she reads to make sense. This is great, but it does slow her down.
As her tutor, I’m thrilled with her reading behavior. Moving forward, we’re going to focus on strategies to increase her fluency while maintaining the expectation that reading makes sense. Last week I introduced a re-reading chart (165 KB PDF)* from the Book Buddies manual on which Becca is using tally marks to track how many times she’s read the three books I sent her home with. This week, we’ll add new books to her rereading bag and try a timed repeated reading. I think she’ll like that strategy, although not every child does!
- What makes this little girl work so darn hard? What is motivating her? What inner voice propels her forward, and hopefully isn’t an “inner critic,” but a positive, encouraging voice?
- The author’s last question: What do you do to help a child monitor their comprehension while developing their fluency at the same time? is truly an essential question, too; but finally, before that can be answered, think about:
- Where is it asked, “why bother reading anyway?”
I have no issues or concerns with the author or article. What I’m digging into is this: why read at all?
When I pose this to students, I can gauge their level of maturity in their responses:
Immature: Because the teacher made me.
Mature: “Oh, Mrs. Love, The Hunger Games is SO GOOD – I read it all weekend and couldn’t put it down (this comes from both girls and boys). Do you have the next book? The next book? The next book?
I worked as a barista at a well-known world-dominating coffee establishment while I was working on my master’s. The cash register went to a symbol system, with codes, etc., and most instructions for the layout of the shop were “idiot proof.”
Be cautious, people: are we making the world so ‘idiot proof” that we marginalize ourselves even further.
I”ll just keep talking away – telling students that everything, and I mean darn near everything, is improved in my life because of my rich reading life: food, experiences, travel, time with family, conversations, know-how, confidence, friendships, choices, and any social interaction, writing, creating, crafting, developing, and breathing – it’s all better.
Perhaps I just answered my own question.