Discussion in 'General Education' started by nstructor, Jun 24, 2018.
Jun 24, 2018
How do you practice fluency with older students?
Jun 25, 2018
We've all have heard about the value of echo, choral and repeated reading to promote fluency - but, despite monumental efforts by their teachers, a growing number of students continue to read word-by-word with minimal comprehension. I'm guessing that many of your students aren't reading at grade level and may benefit from a different approach.
As a former intervention specialist, I would often receive older elementary students into my special ed. program who in addition to having a learning disability, were often English-language learners with speech and language services for an expressive or receptive language disorder. These 4th-6th grade students would typically have difficulty reading words that were 4-5 letters in length and tended not to understand the sentences that they had attempted to read. I needed to find a way to help get them back on track before sending them off to middle school. A few years ago, I discovered how to initially use animated cartoons to develop students' underdeveloped oral language skills. The animations were gradually replaced with relevant text that could then be manipulated in a variety of ways using technology. After just a few months, students were able to read 14-15 word sentences containing up to 5-syllable words that were rapidly flashed across the screen. Click here to view an example of a Hmong student who responded well to this novel approach (best viewed on a computer with MS PowerPoint and speakers on). I would be more than happy to respond to any specific questions. Since personal messages don't work here, you're welcome to contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jun 26, 2018
Well said! Years ago, a Russian immigrant middle school student complained (you know how kids are frank and honest with their opinions), "The [American] kids in my class can't read! They read, "The....lit....tle....brown....dog....jumped....o....ver...the....fence", and of course, he imitated the sing-song expression often heard by struggling readers. Then he went on to wonder why they're not reading more advanced literature, as he shared with me his favorite books.
I am fearful for today's society. Kids (and adults) are not reading! Kids (and adults) are not reading! Libraries have always been quiet places. In The Music Man, Madame Librarian enforced the quiet with rules, but in today's library, it's quiet because hardly anyone is there--especially kids! Oh, I take that back. I do see kids coming in to check out DVD's and video games.
And so again I read in printed media, "Test results just released by the U.S. Department of Education show that a large majority of eighth graders in America's public schools are greatly deficient in both reading and math." Later on, I'm sure I will read how teachers are failing America by not teaching kids to read. With apologies for repeating myself from earlier posts, no teacher can teach a child to read. No method can teach a child to read. Whole language, phonics based, see-and-say (whatever that is), round robin, cannot teach a child to read. We can only teach a child how to read, but if a person does not practice reading, what good is it? [And with that, I applaud Been There's creative methods for encouraging such practice. When the same old doesn't work, newer methods need to be explored].
Back to my point, though, just yesterday, I was reading about Richard Rogers' childhood musical experiences. He was quite proficient at the piano at a very young age. Why? He played the piano. He practiced. He tried stuff. He explored his musical interests. The same is true with reading.
Oh! The wealth of literature available for teens and children is astounding! And it's sitting on library shelves collecting dust. Books and magazines don't jump off the shelves into kids' backpacks (although perhaps we need such technology). But even if they did, unless a child sits in a nook, opens a book, and takes a look, that brain is wasted away on TV, video games, cell phones, TV, video games, cell phones, TV, video games, cell phones, TV, video games, cell phones,TV, video games, cell phones,TV, video games, cell phones....
A few days ago, I read an editorial in a respected news source, that I'm assuming was simultaneously broadcast on either radio or TV. How did the editorialist prove his point? By constructing sentences that twisted and turned until they ended with a somewhat unrelated point that most readers/viewers would agree with. His final point, however, I had to read several times. I thought, 'Surely I'm misreading this.' But I wasn't. His final point was an incongruous statistic. Basically, I read the statistic and thought, 'So what?!' Yet, the news source felt it worthy to print/broadcast the editorial, and I wondered, how many people have such low critical thinking skills that they will just accept this hook, line, and sinker, a very fitting cliché to describe today's non-reading society. Just like a fish is hooked with bait, a non-reading, non-thinking, illiterate and uninformed society is easy prey for any idea hanging down in the water.
Obadiah, thank you for validating my unorthodox approach to teaching the "unteachable". You are the ONLY ONE to have ever commented at all on my research-based methods! (This is one of the problems with our profession.) The fishing metaphor is so relevant to almost any discussion about student engagement - in fact, my laptop is still chockful of various kinds of irresistible techno-bait that I used to hook the most elusive student. I could never figure out why no one was ever interested or curious to find out what I use for bait. Any plausible explanations?
I remember reading about the R and D subculture in places like Silicon Valley where innovation is king. The writer was describing a dynamic workplace in which creative individuals can't wait to share their new ideas with colleagues - resulting in raucous displays of contagious excitement and stimulating discussion. I also recall feeling depressed over the fact that schools seems to be entrenched at the opposite end of the innovation spectrum - places where few seem interested in departing from the status quo.
Thank you so much!
Been There - that's the exact reason I hate the idea of teaching for the test. It's not about how to think, it's about how to repeat information. Which in the real World means that our students are not going to survive. Even jobs that are traditionally considered 'mundane' (think things that woukd have been featured on dirty jobs) have a certain degree of creative thinking that is required to accomplish the tasks. Think about the sciences (the subject I teach). Could I stand in front of a class and preach from the textbook and shove it down their throats? Of course I could. The other teacher that does physics does exactly that. But it doesn't stick long term.
Jun 27, 2018
Are you referring to the common aversion that many teachers have for memorization exercises? The ability to retrieve information is an important mental process that is one of several core processes of memory. Our brains have the capacity to encode and store a tremendous amount of information (new estimates total a quadrillion bytes), but specific training to develop mental discipline is needed to enable the recall of relevant facts before one can begin to learn to tackle complex problems. For example, many of today's young students struggle with advanced mathematical algorithms (even long division) because they have not adequately memorized basic math facts needed to complete the multi-step problems - I believe this explains, in part, why so many students are "not good at math".
To help second grade students strengthen that part of their brains responsible for storage and retrieval of language, I taught them to recall 50 new multi-syllable words in quick succession within two minutes! They could then easily recall specific words and appropriately apply them as needed. Sadly, this is one critical area that is sorely lacking in most unidimensional academic curricula.
No I mean having students memorize specific information for the test but then outside of a testing environment they have no idea how to apply the information. There's knowledge without understanding. They can spit the information back at you like a tape recorder but when you ask them to apply that information to new problems, there's not enough of the information there in order to get the pieces to click together.
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