We can get as data-driven as we want, but the fact is that reading and writing improve by practice. The more we read and write—especially with thoughtfulness, guidance, and passion—the more adept we tend to become.
It doesn’t hurt to have authentic purpose and audience. . . as with writing in the blogosphere.
As school starts anew, we hear of the challenges we have with student reading and writing ability. A recent survey suggests that reading habits in the U.S. may be on the wane.
Who are the 27 percent of people thefound hadn’t read a single book this year? Nearly a third of men and a quarter of women fit that category. They tend to be older, less educated, lower income, minorities, from rural areas and less religious.
If traditional literacy is not embraced on the home front, it becomes a harder sell on the school front. One way a school can help sell literacy, is to embrace it as a culture. Miguel writes about Nancie Atwell’s new book, The Reading Zone. Sounds like another effort by Atwell to promote the ideal of schools building in serious reading time, not just SSR.
When I taught English over a decade ago, I used Atwell’s In the Middle workshop models for reading and writing. My students and I practiced literacy daily. They saw my writing daily as I wrote along with them. They saw my reading list evolve over the year as I read along with them. My high school students improved their reading and writing by reading and writing. Go figure!
The workshop model allowed choice and encouraged reflection . . . which influenced ownership of learning and created a fairly enjoyable, yet demanding, education experience.
Granted, a decade ago was a different day in schools. High-stakes testing was just getting off the ground . . . and we teachers seemed to have much more latitude for creativity and innovation. Still, very few of us were teaching this workshop model, especially in a high school.
So, what is the culture of writing in your school? What types of writing do students see on display from school personnel? Test questions? Homework policies? Dress codes?
How often do students see fresh writing on display from their teachers and administration?
School starts here Monday, and here are two of our newest faculty making their writing public:
- Ms. Curley’s Classroom (7th grade English teacher at MMS)
- Technology in the Classroom (instructional technology facilitator at CHS)
And this school blog from MMS shows promise. The idea is to get the students and staff, inextricably bound, to practice their reading and writing, inextricably bound.