Saturday, September 4, 2010

Book Studies and Bubble Kids!

In “Becoming a Literacy Leader”, Jennifer Allen indicates that as a teacher she often found that her needs and interests were not met within the professional development time each year. I certainly can relate to these feelings; often resulting in frustration over wasted hours and a continual need for new ideas and strategies. Just as Allen began meeting the needs of her teachers through voluntary book studies, so has a small group of teachers I work with at BHS. Her perception of the need for study groups and not a “teaching” situation with one person being the expert reflects her ability to release control and provide teachers with a format that allows growth and sharing of ideas and strategies. I continue to wonder at their choice to continue with one book study for more than a year. As I reflect on our own book study over Strategies That Work by Harvey Daniels and Anne Goudvis last year, I realize that maybe we should have spent more time with the strategies as a group, implementing more of them in our classrooms and discussing outcomes with one another as Allen’s teachers did in their book study. This would enable us to become more proficient with the strategies before moving on to another study.

Allen’s literacy intervention classrooms created to address students on the “bubble” stirred mixed feelings. The strategies implemented in these classrooms were obviously successful, based on test results; however, I find it obvious, and a little disturbing, that the school targeted the very students that might score just a few points below proficient on state testing. It is not that I think these students did not need the extra interventions, but I do wonder at the school’s motives? As I read Allen’s strategies on weeding out who would and would not be in the literacy intervention classrooms, it concerned me that the young boy I began working with last week would not have been one of the chosen. What happens to those not receiving special education services and not in the literacy intervention classrooms? Reading Recovery? Title I? As a high school special education teacher, I often ask myself how a child gets to tenth grade that cannot read on a 2nd grade level. Thursday, I found myself asking, how does an intelligent child get to third grade reading below 1st grade level? I hope I can find the missing link. I don’t want to see this young man in my classroom when he is in tenth grade.

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