Q. Hey Ben! I am presenting a PD to teachers of my school on Monday about literacy strategies. I am going to model and have them practice some strategies that I feel are high leverage with ELLs and struggling readers. I was looking for your input…
A. I personally feel that there is no such thing as struggling readers if they are accepted as where they are by the instructor and not where they land on some questionable assessment tool.
I am opposed to class-wide reading activities of any kind, bc the wide range of kids’ abilities in a typical American classroom automatically creates imbalances and in my view there are no reading strategies out there that can truly erase that imbalance.
It’s different from listening input in that way, where it’s very easy to blast an entire group of 35 kids with high quality auditory input and, as long as they are focused on the message, they all process it just fine with no splitting the class into those who can and those who can’t, as happens in reading.
Notice that auditory input is an unconscious event where reading, when kids are forced to read up above their auditory base, immediately activates conscious thought, which is not what comprehensible input is, not how it works and is thus in conflict with Suzie’s message on reading that kids should read as if what they are reading is “like a movie in their mind”.
The moment the class starts a certain class-wide reading activity, many of the “strugglers” are immediately disenfranchised through no fault of their own except to be “where they are” as readers.
We can’t teach them with faster processors physically next to them in the classroom and expect any particular reading activity to work for them simply because their base line staring point in being able to read a text differs so widely from faster processing readers next to them. Those kids should NEVER be compared to other readers in the classroom.
In my view the whole thing about reading is that it needs to be preceded by a goodly amount of auditory input as a base for reading.