Thursday, September 18, 2008

Topic: Reading Remediation

10-second review: We diagnose students’ weaknesses in reading and then put the students into commercial remedial programs regardless of the results of the tests.

Title: “Reality Therapy in Reading: It’s What’s in People That Counts.” R Santora and L Jensen. English Journal (November 1974), 48-53. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Quote: “Sometimes teachers fall into a deceptively neat pattern of dealing with learning failures: we look for weaknesses in students and for solutions in [commercial] programs.”

Comment: Until the directed reading assignment has been conscientiously tried, I dismiss other approaches to remediation as quackery. Here are the steps in the DRA or Directed Reading Assignment, which can be used successfully in every subject with reading disabled students.

1. Build background knowledge. The more students know about the topic to be studied, the better they will comprehend what they read about the topic.

2. Pre-teach unfamiliar vocabulary.

3. Survey: Read the first paragraph, the first sentence of each intermediate paragraph and the last paragraph. The first paragraph introduces the main idea, the topic sentences of the intermediate paragraphs give the details and the final paragraph summarizes the main idea of the chapter.

4. After the survey, what questions do the students have? They read to answer these questions.

5. Students apply or extend the ideas they have gained through reading.

I repeat the statement from Olive Niles, a reading expert: If every teacher in every subject used the directed reading assignment, there would be no reading failures in America.

"English Education Archives" summarizes articles in past (pre-2008) English education journals.

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