“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” –William Arthur Ward

Philosophies for Best Practices in Reading

  • Like most educators, we believe that reading and writing are intrinsically linked- two sides of a coin. The best reading practices, then, will involve a certain amount of writing just as writing requires reading in all genres. Naturally, one goal of reading is for students to become lifelong readers, to enjoy the act of reading beginning at a young age and extending through adulthood. However, for this to occur, children must feel successful, must be rewarded with understanding what lies between the bright, shiny covers of a new book, and-as we all know-therein lies the problem.
  • Quite simply, the question is how do teachers take any piece of literature-fiction or nonfiction-and give student readers the tools to be able to say, "I liked that book," and excitedly tell parents, friends, anyone who will listen what happened, what was so mysterious, magical, funny, or any number of emotions that a good read should conjure up.
  • All the state/ district/ school/ classroom goals will be meaningless unless we keep in mind the very essence of any subject, which is that a connection has to be made between the student and work itself. It is naive to believe that anyone will identify with every aspect- or even most aspects- of what is being read. What is within the confines of reality, though, is that almost everyone can find something to hold up to the light, examine this way and that, and conclude that indeed "this is me.: If this moment of awareness can happen just once, it is not a stretch of the imagination to expect the same epiphany again and again and yet again.

  • With this personal link in mind, every teacher at any grade should first determine how a student feels about reading before lesson plans are made, worksheets are given, and kids are once again turned off, unwilling to play the game. Of course, all sorts of standardized tests can be given-and should be administered at some point - but the essential element that is missing most often is the articulation of the student in terms of what reading means to that one younger learner.
  • Teacher-student discussions, several Quick Writes, even student-to-student guided, recorded "interviews" can give a teacher a sense of where a particular class is on the scale of personal connection to the written word. In the sessions, teacher will be able to ascertain what types of literature students like and what types turn them off, what their experiences have been, what stumbling blocks they face, and what makes them feel confident or embarrassed or even angry as they read. When teachers are armed with this information, the real learning process can begin.