I first learned about Richard Allington in grad school when we had to read What Really Matters for Struggling Readers (the link takes you to the newer version, but the picture is the one I have). The man is a genius, and I was so excited to see that he would be one of the featured speakers at the Virginia State Reading Conference a few weeks ago. He also earned bonus points because Mr. Allington himself showed up for pajamas and PD later that night IN HIS PJS! How cute is that!!Anyway, I took a few notes and wanted to share them with you. The big idea, if you read nothing else from this post, is that students do not spend enough time READING, and what they do spend reading is mostly chosen for them. We need to provide students with more opportunities to read and select their own books!Some stats that I thought were interesting (WARNING: They may slap you in the face):
- Disabilities are more frequently related to opportunities provided to the students. Meaning WE the teachers create many of the "issues" that our students have because we aren't meeting their needs in the best way possible.
- Many of the deficits students experience are already well in place by the time they get to upper elementary, and then they just compound. We have to catch them early on and build that strong foundation for our students to become more successful.
- The average student may read about 18 minutes during the school day. That's WAY lower than it should be! And it also means we are talking too much. We need to shut up and let them learn!
This goes along with an article I shared on my facebook page that was written by Irene Fountas (another reading GURU!) about how we need to analyze our teaching and make sure we're actually teaching and not "testing comprehension". Students aren't going to become better readers by just answering a set of teacher-created questions. We need to be very purposeful in our teaching and make sure that it facilitates their reading instead of constricting it.
I know this post doesn't include a lot of practical ideas, but it just goes to show that really the best thing we can do is put books in the hands of our kids and make sure that they are books that the student can read! I honestly don't mind if my level O student is reading a level M book IF IT GETS HER TO READ. She's still learning and can improve her comprehension on a lower level, but what's more important is that I'm allowing her to read for HER and not to test comprehension.