Hilary Janks said very bluntly in her book Literacy and Power written in 2010; "Texts have designs on us.." She goes on to say that; " Critical reading, in combination with an ethic of social justice. is fundamental in order to protect our own rights and the rights of others." An article I have read this week titled; "Reading From Different Interpretive Stances: In Search of a Critical Perspective" spends time introducing its readers to the idea of having students read and respond to texts from different points of views or as the article states, 'stances". Surprisingly, it is not a new idea. It is also mentioned in the book Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire. (I had to read this book as part of this weeks reading as well) In his book, Freire said that teaching students to read critically would help them develop their own thoughts and views instead of staying oppressed and having neutral views and thoughts. He goes on to say that reading is more than decoding words, it's paying attention to how a text is written and how the author of that texts voice is understood by the reader. The article also states that being literate is more than reading and responding to texts, it is also about making choices about how you as the reader want to respond based on a situation or context.
The researchers in this article studied an instructional strategy called interpretive stance. They believe that students thinking can become critical when they learn that texts are social spaces. The researchers introduced the idea of "frames". frames are mental structures that shape the way we view the world around us. These frames have lots to do with the way we understand the texts we read. The strategy teaches students to look at texts in a few different ways. It gives students ways to, as the article states, "talk back to the text." Using this strategy helps students make choices about the way they want to respond to texts that they read. The strategy teaches student to respond to texts in six different ways:
The end results show that students were well able to express themselves using the correct terminology and could express what the terminology meant. The article further mentions that some students with learning disabilities benefited from the multimodality of the strategy. The strategy was used with older students, but I do see ways of adapting the strategy for use with students in elementary grades because I see the need for students to have experiences with texts that they read and be able to express their thoughts about that texts through thinking, writing, and speaking. Thinking critically is not something that would come naturally to students so, I do agree that teaching this strategy would be a great benefit to building literacy in our youth.
Reading From Different Interpretive Stances: In Search of a Critical Perspective is an article that was written in February of 2012 and published in the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy .
This weeks blog will be a quick reflection of some of this weeks reading. I am reading: Reading Literature in Elementary Classrooms by Kathy Short. Kathy argues that: ' it is possible to create practices of literary reading that support children's interests in reading processes, enjoyment in personal reading, and engagement in critical inquiry about the representations and themes literature presents." I do agree with her but it will take a lot of work to make this wide stream knowledge,
I remember reading in school as having two parts; reading for a grade and reading for fun and both of those did not happen at the same time. I enjoyed reading (still do) but still managed to get into trouble in the 5th grade for daydreaming while watching a bird in a tree outside of the window. Short suggests ways of bringing all aspects of reading together to engage the whole child. I do believe that would have helped me cut down some of my lack of focus. I think about my classroom instruction now and ways that I can work with the teachers I work with and after this reading I have a different point of view especially about how I completed read alouds. I would complete a read aloud with my students, reinforce a reading skill and put the book out for them to enjoy on their own. Often times most of the students could only enjoy the pictures which is fine but not as effective as it could be. I read of one teacher who took his read alouds, made shared readings out of them and taught spelling patterns with the books before releasing them for his students to enjoy. I like the idea, it's rigorous, it's engaging, and a fun way to step away from the Basel driven normal classroom structure. This idea also increases reading volume and Richard Allington states that is a contributing factor to improved reading in students.
My reading also lead me to find out more about having students read and respond to literature as well as ask and answer questions of each other. This gives students the opportunity to experience reading in various different ways. Quoting Short again: Reading and responding to literature as problem-posing as well as problem solving, provides a critical frame through which multiple voices and perspectives can contribute to inquiry about ones self and the world." (Short page 50) When considering children and their reading backpacks (the skills they come to us with) some students, especially those who come from poorer backgrounds with limited experiences, we have to know that they may have oral language related to situations that they deal with daily, like family letters, games on cell phones, bills and bill collector conversations as well as environmental print which is as good of a place to start as any. Students responses to literature may begin with picture representations but again they are able to respond to reading and share their thoughts with others.
The idea is that we find places in the curriculum that invite children to make meaning of the texts we read to them and text they read for themselves. We want them to engage with the literature we expose them to, make them make connections with thinking about it and sharing it with others.
Reading Literature In the Elementary Classrooms is an article in the Handbook of Research on Children's and Young Adult Literature written by Kathy Short.
The bible says: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7) I start with that because its a recurring theme in my life and something I need a constant reminder about. I am in week two of class two and the work load and reading is "real". I mentioned in my last blog that I took a week off for my sororities national convention and as a result missed the first week of class. I did have a co-worker get notes for me and she shared the handouts for class (thank you Debbie) I began looking over them to see where to begin. That's when the anxiety hit me. I looked at what I had missed and what needed to be done and immediately felt overwhelmed. I briefly thought to myself: "maybe I am not ready for this". I am not sure how I will get it all done. I am still working on balance because this is something I have chosen to do and I must do it well enough to see it through to the finish.I gotta keep my grades up. I just know that it has to be done. So, I have settled myself, whispered a calming prayer and began reading. I have found that I must write my thoughts down as I am reading. I have also found that I have to turn off the TV and any other things that make noise (I am very easily distracted) My reading capacity is almost child like as I try to read these educational journals and books. At one point, I found myself reading aloud and then I was better able to focus. I am still reading slowly through the assignment and find myself stopping frequently and "zoning out" I have got to get my reading stamina up which means, I cannot wait until the day an assignment is due to begin reading it. I also cannot afford to waist any time on things not work related while I am at work. I believe that will help with balance. (keeping work at work and school studies at home and on weekends) I do believe there will be times when work and school will overlap and can be completed simultaneously; those days will be a blessing indeed. I am still feeling anxious and a bit overwhelmed but I think I will feel better once I sit in my first class this week.
Oook, this weeks blog is late.. I was traveling. I drive to Atlanta to celebrate my silver star award at my sororities national convention. I am having a grand time and am glad that I have the opportunity to come. I have had the opportunity to meet and mingle with sorority sisters from all over the country and some international sisters. I will be here until Thursday which means that I will miss my first week of class number two. I know missing classes at this level is probably not a good thing but I had already planned this opportunity. I do have some thoughts about balance though. Being a student at the doctoral level means that I will have to sacrifice some of the simple luxuries that I am used to, but where is my balance? That is a question that I will have to search for answers for. I also need to set my study schedule so that I can get used to this work load. I do have good news. I managed to receive an A for my process writing course. I almost received all my points (I was 10 points shy)
I am in the final week of my first course. Process Writing has given me a course of action as a writer at the doctoral level. I have written an action plan and as a result of that plan I have created this blog. The books (yes that's plural) that I have read for this course will help me in my next courses. Course one, almost done; that is 3 of the 60 hours needed to finish; puts things into perspective huh? I can say that I have learned some things that I can use in my next course, so, I'm ready to get into it. Speaking of getting into it; I received my bill for summer II this week and that bill scared me. I know it's an investment but this is a big, big investment. An investment that I cannot take lightly. What scared me most was that it looks like the bill isn't paid. Financial aid for summer II did not come through. It said; "I am on academic probation" I know this is an error because so far I have completed all assignments for this course and so far I have gotten all possible points on the assignments that have been graded by my professor. The holiday is coming so the first call on Tuesday with be to financial aid to get things corrected. If nothing else, this is a good warning of what will happen if I don't put my all into this "investment" I have gotten myself into.
So, my next course is a children's literature class and I thought to myself when I registered for it; "Pearl, you've taken a children's lit course before; you can do this!'" Yeah, I'm in there now. I purchased the book (it costs more than 100 dollars) I'm used to expensive books. Amazon.com is my friend. The title of the book didn't get me either. but then the book came in the mail. The Handbook of Research on Children's and Young Adult Literature is the name of the book and by the looks of it we will go deep into children's literature. I have a nervous excitement as I flip through the pages of this enormous book of research that I will need to digest to keep my academic status from saying: "I am on academic probation" again. To this point I have mostly been writing in response to things that are on my mind, like this blog. I am sure that this course will have me writing in response to research on children's and young adult's literature. Hey, I love children's books! It is my hope to learn a deeper love for them after this course; if nothing else,
Pearl Garden is a doctoral candidate at Texas A&M- Commerce. Follow along as she chronicles her pursuit of her Ed. D in Supervision-Curriculum and Instruction- Elementary Education. Just know that these are the ramblings of a doc student and a lot of what you read is a first draft and will go through some rewrites.