Learning to Read, Reading to Learn
Inspiring, thought-provoking, fun. The Saskatchewan Reading Council’s Annual Reading Conference held in Saskatoon this year was all that and more! It did not disappoint.
All presenters did a fantastic job of sharing their knowledge and expertise. It was Richard Allington’s keynote and breakout sessions though, that stood out for me. He challenged thinking and a lot of professional dialogue followed...even through lunch! Here are a few highlights from his sessions:
Teacher expertise is the key to effective classroom reading lessons.
There are 3 areas teachers must have expertise in:
- Classroom management
- Effective literacy instruction - There is nothing we can buy except professional development.
- Managing literate conversations - Students need time to talk to each other about what they've been reading and writing.
The one proven strategy for teaching all vulnerable children to read is developing teacher expertise, yet not many schools have adopted massive, high quality professional development for staff as their intervention. Allington cited a study from (2007) that showed dramatic increases in the reading levels of their vulnerable readers by the end of Grade 3. In the study they provided 60 hours of PD for teachers and 1 year of in class coaching.
90% of children reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade graduate high school on time.
If we want to keep children from achieving:
- keep access to books limited
- live in neighborhoods where there are far fewer books
How many books in a home (100+) is a better predictor of educational achievement than family income or the educational level of parents.
Allington conducted a 3 year study in which they distributed 15 books every summer to high poverty school children. They found it eliminated summer reading loss. In fact, it produced as much or more reading growth as attending summer school.
Allington suggests that we can do better and asks:
Are we up to it?