I've been thinking a lot about what changes could be implemented in my middle school in order to help get kids to the level of College and Career Readiness required by the Common Core State Standards. We'll be working on our school improvement plan soon, and I want to help the teachers use research to get us to the best strategies that will create real learning and thinking in our building. Following is a list of recommendations I will be sharing with staff, gleaned mainly from Richard L. Allington's work What Really Matters for Struggling Readers. So many of these ideas and suggestions were also affirmed and reaffirmed through the sessions I attended at the Michigan Reading Association's Annual Conference last weekend. In future posts, perhaps I will add some commentary to some of these recommendations, but for now here they are. I'd love to hear your thoughts and I welcome your comments!
1. Make schools that are less parent-dependent.
2. Create readers who can search and sort through information, synthesize and analyze information,
summarize and evaluate information.
3. Create students who not only CAN read but who WANT to read.
4. Build in 90 minutes of ACTUAL reading time every day across the curriculum.
5. Stop wasting minutes. Analyze your transitions. If the day begins at 8:15, instruction begins at 8:15. If the
day ends at 3:15, instruction ends at 3:15.
6. Develop standards, upon which all staff agrees, for expected volume of reading.
7. Build in 40-45 minutes of writing per day across the curriculum.
8. Extend amount of minutes at a time that students spend reading and writing.
9. Make sure all students have reading materials, aligned to the curriculum, at their reading level.
10. Make repeated readings an important part of all content areas.
11. Ask more higher-order thinking questions and less "known-answer" questions.
12. More and more and more classroom talk and discussion around text.
13. Think about the homework of struggling readers: a. Is it inappropriately difficult? b. Is it stultifyingly
boring? c. Is it assigned in immense quantities?