Monday, February 8, 2010

Now THERE'S a Finger Snapper!

Today I was at the library procrastinating taking a break from my dissertation to stay up on current events in education. A girl can't let herself get stale you know.

I was immediately drawn to an article with the title, "Students show progress with new reading." Natch, I had to click and read more because who wouldn't want the answer to the age old question of "how the hell can I better serve my students?" Plus, the article was about advancements in education from my home state of CT - so I had to give a shout out.

Although, after reading the article, what I shouted out was, "Well DUH!" To which many people replied with shushing and dirty looks.

Basically, what I can get from the article is that this school is showing significant gains in student reading as a result of a 45-minute daily "RX" period. Instruction during this "RX" period is individualized, based on student needs and monitored every two weeks so that the prescription stays up to date. If a child needs help decoding, they get help decoding until they show improvement. If a child needs help with comprehension skills, they get help with those specific comprehension skills until they show improvement. Granted, it sounds as if this reading program uses a set of potentially prescriptive paths for each child once they are "diagnosed" which is an idea I don't love because it makes the process of learning how to read look far too...scientific. So perhaps this RX business isn't the solution to the problem of illiteracy, but still, the idea behind it seems to be that instruction is tailored to the needs of individual children and who can argue with that premise?

The article then makes the incredibly obvious powerful statement that "Not 1 size fits all."

And I'm all, "Wait, where's the innovation?"

Don't get me wrong. I'm not blaming the teachers in this scenario AT ALL. I think it's great that they are able to tailor their instruction to the needs of each child rather than have someone tell them that if they stand on one foot and hop in place thirty times, their students will learn how to read. Guar-an-teed! Or your money back!

Now maybe this RX program thingy is a horribly scripted reading program and I'm just not getting that from the article. Because from where I'm standing, it sounds like teachers were finally given the green light to do what they know is best for their students. The article wasn't exactly clear on this point and after a quick Google search, all I was able to find was a bunch of links to places that help people understand their actual medical prescriptions. You know, which is important TOO just...

WHERE IS THE INNOVATION IN ALL THIS? Where is the tidbit that I can take away and pass along to my Super Colleagues. Because although this is true, and although I believe whole heartedly that there doesn't exist a one-sized-fits-all approach to teaching anything that will actually teach all children, the ability to do what we think is best for our children isn't always an option. You see, with all the scripted curriculums, excessive paperwork and obsession with testing, doing what we think is right for our children becomes harder if not downright impossible.

But perhaps, to those in the media, or really anyone outside the classroom who has been bombarded with images of idiotic teachers who deserve the blame for every aspect of the educational system that is currently in crisis, the idea of simply letting a teacher do her job IS innovative.

5 comments:

ChiTown Girl said...

Ok, I'm sorry, this has nothing to do with today's (brilliant as usual!) post, but did you add a baby bump to your avatar? Too cute!

Rachel said...

I'm not sure if it's good that this is considered innovative or not. On the one hand, the pedagogy field DOES love its buzzwords. And if something is new & innovative, by golly, let's give it a whirl!

But then again, it means that something that teachers have been screaming about for years is now being treated like some new-fangled thing, meaning that teachers voices really AREN'T being heard. huh.

I'll try to look on the bright side. No, really.

That said, I really wish we had something like that in HS. A prescribed reading time for EVERYONE, in addition to their daily classes. Like a study hall, only you're not allowed to do homework during that time, you must choose something to read for pleasure. *sigh* A girl can dream, can't she?

Stu said...

Teachers doing what they need to do best...one size doesn't fit all...teaching to the needs of the students.

*Stands up and cheers!!!*

Mrs. F said...

Rachel, you would have loved the high school class I'm now teaching. It's called Writing Research, but it's a bit more, including 21st century learning ideas. My kids read every day for 20 minutes, and for the 36 minute period on Wednesday. I don't want to brag, but I've got a couple kids who didn't read, who are now reading AND asking me for new stuff! Of course, my classroom is a library, so there is plenty to choose from, but I know that these kids don't have time to read, and my class is one place where they can. I love my high school class!

Ellen Zschunke said...

Hello! First of all, I LOVE your blog and have been keeping up with it for some time. I recently finished (i.e. loved) your book. Anywho, it sounds to me like the article is referring to RTI - are you familiar with this? RTI is Response to Intervention...buzzwords galore!

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