Monday, September 7, 2015

The Best Way to Promote Reading Proficiency

Lloyd Lofthouse, a thirty year public school English teacher explains here how to best encourage our students to be good readers. BESE 5th District candidate Johnny Fatheree has made greater emphasis on the teaching of reading in our schools his top priority as a BESE member.

Mr Lofthouse, a distinguished Vietnam veteran and teacher does not agree with the Common Core mandates on the teaching of reading. Neither does Mr. Fatheree.

Reading is absolutely fundamental to almost all academic learning. Thomas Jefferson never attended formal school, but his enthusiasm for reading propelled him to became one of the most educated persons of his time. 

Here is how Lofthouse describes how he teaches reading:

“If we want children to read at a high literacy level, those same children should be reading every day from books they enjoy—not some crap from a David Coleman or Pearson list.
“For instance, when I was teaching 7th grade in the early 1980s, one mother came to me concerned for her daughter who was a student in the English class I taught. The mother told me that her daughter was reading five levels below grade level. She wanted to know what could be done so her daughter would catch up.
“I said, “Turn off the TV at home, and have your daughter read for at least one hour or more every night at home seven days week, 365 days a year. The more she reads books that she enjoys, the faster her literacy level will grow.” I told her to use the local county library because it was free.
“That mother was skeptical. She even said as much but she promised to do what I suggested—and she did.
“A year later, after the next standardized test to determine reading levels, the mother wrote a letter to the district commending me for my advice because her daughter had jumped five years catching up to her grade level in literacy." 
Mr Lofthouse goes on to explain how he had developed a love of reading by reading any and everything that interested him in grade school and high school. Later when he came back from the war, he tested at an extremely high level in reading and qualified for college. 
When I first read about the David Coleman, Common Core mandate that students be required to read 50% informational and technical material it occurred to me that this is probably the best way to kill the joy of reading. That's because as a kid growing up on a farm away from all reading mandates, I just read everything that interested me. That's how I got interested in reading science fiction, and that's how I got interested in real science. Even though I was not a great student academically, when we took the ACT test in my school, I made the highest science ACT score in my class. I then went on to become a science teacher. If I had been restricted to the Common Core reading standards I seriously doubt that I would have come to love reading and ended up as a science teacher.
Learning does not happen without motivation. When students are straight-jacketed into the Common Core reading regimen, their appreciation of reading can easily be dampened. Thats just one of the many reasons I believe candidate Fatheree is on the right track in steering us away from some of the unproven mandates of Common Core.


Anonymous said...

Science and social studies more than fulfill the requirement for technical reading. It is all informational in science! Why doesn't anyone get this!!! Science teachers have been saying this for years and no one listens.

Michael Deshotels said...

You are correct! We need to free our reading and English teachers to teach the joy and fulfillment that good reading provides to all students. Why tie them down to stupid formulas of technical vs fiction? All reading is helpful. Our kids today are just not doing enough of it to develop proficiency and to become self directed and motivated learners like Thomas Jefferson.

Anonymous said...

Sooooo true!