Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Importance of Reading

As educators, one of the core beliefs we have is that ALL students can learn.  Beyond just learning, it is imperative that all students learn to learn in a way that best fits their needs.

Reading plays a pivotal part in this journey.  We hope to instill a love for reading in every student that walks through the doors at Woodbrook Elementary School.  This passion for reading must be modeled by peers, teachers, and administrators alike.

Having said that, reading can be challenging.  In addition to being a challenge, many of our students have difficulty finding books that engage their minds.  Books that move them to laughter, tears, joy, sadness, and eagerness.  This, sadly, is especially true of boys.

Our passion to build lifelong readers is not built around an end-of-the-year Standards of Learning test.  We do this to not meet the quarterly and yearly literacy benchmarks.  We do this because reading is an essential life skill for all students.  Reading opens doors and windows to new worlds and adventures.  It teaches you about history, science, love, hurt, compassion, empathy, etc.

The more kids see other kids reading, the more it becomes embedded in their day-to-day lives.  Likewise, the more kids see adults in the building reading, the more they see reading as a lifelong enjoyment more than a certain part of school.  In short, we don't want reading to be a homework assignment or a chore.  We want reading to be a choice, a hobby, a passion.

Recently, Piper Gary, our music teacher, sent out an email with great information about teaching reading to kindergarten through third grade students.  You can view the site she shared below.

Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade

She also shared an infographic that has been making its way through the Internet for years.  It is a great reminder of how important reading is.

While we are aiming to promote reading as an important lifelong skill and passion, we also realize many students don't see it as such.  For those students, we must figure out a way to help them see the value in reading. The illustration above shows them the academic value in reading every night but often that is not enough.  We need to help them see the authentic value and importance of reading.  It is our job to help bridge that gap between school and the real world. 

The picture/tweet above shows a first grader who was authentically engaged in reading.  He was reading a book of his choice and loving it.  His excitement to read for an audience was amazing.  We need to be able to capture this moments more often in the classroom.  If and when students are more engaged in the reading process, they will do it more often without being prompted.  Amazingly, the author of the book being read by the first grader responded to the tweet.  When the first grader saw Steve Antony's response, he smiled from ear-to-ear and was totally enthused that he cared about him. 

This was a powerful learning moment for the student and many staff members as well.  As we move forward, we will continue to learn new strategies and methods to engage authentic reading inside and outside the classroom.

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