The only reason all those readers (incorrectly called novels – they are not novels; they are readers) are out there is that the two biggest leaders of CI up to this point, Blaine and Carol, sell them.
So there has been this massive focus on novels perpetuated on teachers at the summer trainings, but is there any real research to support inundating kids with reading those texts too early as is done in level 1? I haven’t been able to find any.
The research, of course, has a massive focus on reading, but NOT TOO EARLY as is done now in all corners of the CI world. I think Krashen would agree with this, having studied his work for 20 years now with a microscope. (Much of his research has been mangled by the CI community, esp. in recent years in the new CI Marketplace.)
So where does that early push in reading come from? It comes from the conferences and training. It has been a massive advertising job.
Why else do teachers use the readers too early? Because they eat up classroom instructional minutes, gobbling them up, which is precisely what teachers unsure of themselves in CI methods need – something to eat up instructional minutes.
But using the readers (ex. Pobre Ana) too early splits classes, which goes against my main message to the overall CI community – to build community in your CI classroom before doing anything else, like teaching reading.
The solution is as plain as the nose on your face (see below). Get better at CI so that you don’t end up taking the air out of your classes every day by teaching the readers/novels. (‘m not talking about Silent Sustained Reading – it shouldn’t be started until level 2 as discussed elsewhere here in the last few days.)
Another solution? Use the Star Sequence, which allows you to make wonderful use of tableaux and stories created during class by the students and which requires ALL of the time hitherto wasted on reading novels in level 1. The Star Sequence gets your level 1 classes started out with reading on much safer ground.
One of the biggest drags currently on the CI movement is using those readers too early, in level 1. The kids can’t handle it. Many of them can’t even read in English, and no blame in our screen-dominated world. Give your level 1 students the level 1 readers in level 2, and use the Star Sequence to teach them how to read from those wonderful tableaux and stories that they create in level 1.
My message: stop wasting time with the novels in level 1. Use the level 1 novels in level 2 when they can read them effortlessly (Krashen’s term, from the research) and as per the training of greatest CI teacher of all time, Susan Gross.
Then watch them appreciate you MUCH MORE, because they CAN DO IT. Watch your entire program change when you do this. Your enrollments will grow in the upper levels when you make this change.
It’s as plain as the nose on your face. Learn to see.