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How Teachers Are Isolated to Find Solutions to Adolescent Literacy Problems

Educators at any level are quite familiar with reading problems, corrective reading and educational research on this field. A few days now, we posted on Twitter a post asking why cursive writing is not taught in schools anymore. Responses were from, "probably because we don't read cursive books any more" to "I never have used it."

Now remember that these answers came from professionals. How hard it will be to deal with adolescents? We can create improvement programs, develop learning strategies, but as far as people don't see the benefits to learn cursive and excel on reading programs, teachers on lower level feel like left behind.

To support what we are saying, allow me to paraphrase what PhD Don Deshler knows about this matter so far. Dr. Deshler is a member of the National Institute for Literacy's Advisory Board (NIFL), and education professor at University of Kansas. He is also the co-author to Informed Choices for Struggling Adolescent Readers: A Research-Based Guide to Instructional Programs and Practices

Deshler spoke in an interview to the Catalyst, of NIFL, where he points out that administrators and teachers both share concern about adolescent literacy but they work in isolation within their own schools to find solutions.

Even when he does no addresses the handwriting problems to make yourself understood these days, the expert considers that one of the reasons why poor literacy skills are way too common in America's schools, is that we have largely ignored its acquisition in the upper grades.

The reading slump occurred after fourth grade is owed to the ineffective and some times absence of practices to teach children to learn how to read. Once they passed from three to fourth grade, the curriculum changes and the emphasis moves to comprehension, vocabulary and speed.

Another problem discovered and mentioned on the book Deshler co-authored, is the prevailing assumption that by the time students arrive in the middle school and high school they have acquired the necessary literacy skills. False. The root of the problem may well be the way in which teachers are prepared in their university training. Very often, little or no attention is given to problems of adolescent literacy and strategies to correct them when they are encountered in the classroom.

Increased time for literacy during school day is recommended. And the conformation of a school improvement team is assessed to tackle literacy achievement and to identify those students who have literacy difficulties.

We think reading and writing come all along the way. While students rehearse their reading practices their visual memory get developed and less spelling issues are carried. But writing needs to be coordinated not only with typing skills but clear handwriting. Is it that we always carry on a cell phone or computer to redact any kind of text? Forget about abbreviations so spread on social media today.

The director of the Center for Research on Learning at University of Kansas, concludes: "While not every teacher is a reading teacher, every teacher can play an important role to improve the literacy skills of students."

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Milton Ramirez

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