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Readicide -Kelly Gallagher

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Ashleigh Lenfest

on 24 November 2013

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Transcript of Readicide -Kelly Gallagher

-Kelly Gallagher

What is Readicide?
Readicide is the systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools.
Causes of Readicide
The value schools place on developing test takers instead of readers
Limitation of authentic reading experiences
Overteaching of books
Underteaching of books
Chapter 1: The Elephant in the Room
Main idea: The overemphasis on testing is killing off readers. We are developing test-takers instead of lifelong readers.

“In the quest to raise scores and make teachers and administrators look good, our students are paying a price.”
Reasons Test Taking
Harms Young Readers
Multiple-choice test preparation drives shallow teaching and learning
Test preparation teaches children to memorize facts instead of analyzing and synthesizing the deeper meaning of texts
Struggling readers are falling further behind as we drive the love of reading out of them through over testing and ineffective remediation “treatments”
Texas Mirage!
Rod Paige was the Secretary of Education during the Bush Administration that began our national test-driven curriculum.
He lied to our country by producing false data regarding his Texas schools. He used to be a superintendent in Texas and created a district policy in which schools received rewards for high performance on high-stakes tests. He claimed that his schools were achieving greatness with this program.
Our national government then based America’s education system on his false advertisement.
Come to find out...
Paige's results were statistically flawed due to:
Dropout rates
False representation in ESE classes
Retention rates
Dropout rate of his Texas schools reached 50 % accounting for the “disappearance” of struggling students
Struggling students who stayed in school were retained or placed in ESE classes so they did not have to take the high-stakes tests in 10th grade, therefore leading to a false image of academic growth.

The readicide that our country currently faces is partially due to Rod Paige’s test-driven curriculum that held false promises.
How can we address these issues?
Our schools need to change their focus from producing good test-takers to fostering life-long learners!
Instead of teaching children how to bubble in answer sheets correctly, we need to prepare them to become expert citizens. Robert J. Sternberg argues that we need to teach the skills of creativity, common sense, wisdom, ethics, dedication, honesty, teamwork, hard work, how to win and how to lose, fair play, and life-long learning.
“If students are taught to read and write well, they will do fine on mandated reading tests. But if they are only taught to be test-takers, they will never learn to read and write well.”
Chapter 2: Endangered Minds
Purpose of school is it to:
Produce students who pass state mandated reading assessments
Produce students with cultural literacy needed to be productive citizens in a democratic society.
What do students need?
“Our students are in desperate need of large doses of authentic reading- the kinds of reading we, as adults, do in newspapers, magazines, blogs, and websites.”

Airplane metaphor:
“Our students should be reading through many windows, not just a single, narrow window that gives them a view of the next exam.”
More Factors Contributing to Readicide
There is a dearth of interesting reading materials in our schools.
Many schools have removed novels and other longer challenging works to provide teachers and students with more test preparation time.
Students are not doing enough reading in school.
Dearth of Interesting Reading Materials
Olympians know that a tremendous amount of practice is a nonnegotiable prerequisite to performing well.
High-stakes testing is a “race”
Students need “pool time”, or authentic reading.
If we want kids to become better readers, they have to read a lot more than they are currently reading. And if we want our students to do a lot more reading than they are currently doing, they need to be immersed in a pool of high-interest reading material.
Let's Discuss...
On your campus, do students have ample access to high-interest reading materials? If not, what is being done about it?
Word Poverty
By kindergarten, a gap of 32 million words already separates some children in linguistically impoverished homes from their more stimulates peers.
It is not simply a matter of the number of words unheard and unlearned. When words are not heard, concepts are not learned. When syntactic forms are never encountered, there is less knowledge about the relationship of events in a story. When story forms are never known, there is less ability to infer and predict. When cultural traditions and the feelings of others are never experiences, there is less understanding of what other people feel (Wolf, 2007).
The Impact of Word Poverty
By third grade, students who suffer from word poverty are often at a million word reading deficit. By sixth grade, they are three grade levels behind their average performing peers.

Undernourished people need good food. Undernourished readers need good books. And lots of them. What are they often given instead?
What the reader brings to the page is often more important than the ability to read the words on the page (Figure 2.1).
Reading consists of two factors:
being able to decode the words on the page
being able to connect the words you are reading with the prior knowledge you bring to the page.
Students need a broad knowledge base in order to be excellent readers.
The Importance of Prior Knowledge
Fielding (1998) found a strong correlation between time spent reading and performance on standardizes reading tests (pg. 35):
Fielding's Results
Demonstrate that students who have the broadest reading experiences score the highest on standardized test. The students with the narrowest reading experiences scored the lowest.
If we want students to perform well on standardized reading tests, our focus should be on providing our students with the widest reading experiences possible.
Less Literature, More Test Prep Time
The phenomenon of knowing a lot, but understanding little.
“Neuroscience suggests strongly that if the child’s developmental needs during these periods are not met, we may actually close down some of those developmental windows” (Healy, 1990, pg. 2-3).
When schools remove novels from the students’ curriculum and replace challenging books with shorter pieces and worksheets, they are denying students the foundational reading experiences for developing the regions of the brain that enable them to think deeply.
Correlates to the lack of authentic reading experiences.
If we want our students to be complex thinkers, they need to be challenged to read long, complex texts.
Lack of Reading in Schools
Less than one-third of thirteen-year-olds are daily readers, a 14% decline from 20 years earlier.
Among 17 year-olds, the percentage of nonreaders has more than doubled over a 20 year period, from 9% in 1984 to 19% in 2004.
On average, Americans ages 15-24 spend almost two hours a day watching T.V. and only seven minutes of their leisure time on reading.
Nearly half of all Americans ages 15-24 do not read books for pleasure.
The Value of Silent Sustained Reading (SSR)
1) SSR is a valuable investment in test preparation.
2) SSR is necessary to allow students an opportunity to build
their prior knowledge and background.
3) SSR provides many student with their only opportunity to
develop a recreational reading habit.
How can we address these issues?
Take a stand in your classroom and school.
Augment books with authentic, real-world texts (Article of the Week).
Be the “discussion director” on your campus.
Establish a book flood zone.
Recognize and fight against summer reading loss.
Challenge all students with difficult text.
Recognize the difference between liking a text and gleaning value from a text.
Make sure teachers and administrators are aware of the damage done to adolescents when students’ brains are not stretched by longer, challenging works.
Conduct your own research to find out how much students are reading in your school.
Chapter 3: Avoiding the Tsunami
Gallagher focuses on the "tsunami" of curriculum guides and teaching techniques used to overteach and underteach novels
Three factors linked to this "tsunami"
We prevent our students from experiencing the reading flow
Our overanalysis of books creates instruction that values the trivial instead of the meaningful
Academic instruction “spills over” and ruins students’ desire to read recreationally
The Reading Flow
Students should be able to experience uninterrupted reading without constantly stopping to analyze and critique the content.
Gallagher feels that students should be so engrossed in reading that the have to stop to “come up for air”. Yet due to our teaching, students are “coming up for life preservers” (pg. 65).
Describes a 122 page pacing guide for teaching the novel,
To Kill a Mockingbird
. Gallagher points out that, “a terrible irony arises when one of the great books in American literature is used to turn students off to reading” (pg. 65).
Trivial Instruction due to Overanalysis
Returning to the 122 page pacing guide for
To Kill a Mockingbird
, Gallagher points out that while themes, such as racism, are important and relevant in today’s context, stopping to overanalyze every aspect relevant to the novel ruins the ability to discuss the book in today’s world.
Gallagher provides multiple instances, such as Obama’s election, in which
To Kill a Mockingbird
would lead to relevant conversations.
Unfortunately, these conversations don’t take place because teachers and students are too busy placing sticky notes in their novels instead of talking and writing about it.
She also points out the importance of using multiple strategies instead of beating the same strategies to death.
Academic "Spill-Over"
Consistently teaching students to prepare for state exams or assigning point values and goals to reading is not fun.
This reading process is what students take away from many English classes.
Gallagher calls these practices, “shameful” and provides us with the Kill-a-Reader Casserole recipe (pg. 73).
Kill-a-Reader Casserole
*Please note: This dish is not recommended for fun learning atmospheres or students suffering from preexisting book-reading allergies.
How can we address these issues?
Have students read without points, worksheets, reports or grades. While Gallagher acknowledges that this is difficult, she uses McQuillan’s study to show that students benefited from the exercise of reading, not killing reading.
While AR and incentive programs get students to read, students don’t always benefit because they read based on point levels.
Chenowith found that students reading dropped lower after AR ends while Pavonetti, Brimmer, and Cipielewski’s results agreed.
We should start with guiding students through literature and then gradually give the students more and more independent work.
Create topic floods
Ingredients in Building a Reader
Read interesting books
Give time to read these books during school
Provide a place to read the books.
In Conclusion...
Gallagher gives many reasons as to why readicide is taking place in classrooms across the United States. High-stakes test prep, limited authentic reading experiences, overteaching and underteaching of novels are often responsible for this dilemma. It is our responsibility as educators to help save our students from this fate.
McQuillian (2001)
Studied 240 Title I students
Many students were Hispanic with LEP
The goal was to increase the amount of time spent reading.
Before the study, most students said they rarely read for pleasure.
At the beginning, teachers gave students 10 minutes to read until gradually increasing this time to 15-20, even 30 minutes at the beginning of each day.
At the end of the study, students were reading books and complaining when they had to stop reading.
McQuillan concluded that, when implemented correctly, SSR is beneficial and students take advantage.
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