Monday, February 25, 2008

Reading Enrichment for Amateurs

Gentle readers, I need your help. I'm about ready to pop the reading enrichment instructor at M. Peevie's school, because I think she's actually hindering M's advancement rather than helping it. I'm not sure what to do, but I'm pretty sure that smacking the teacher is not the most helpful approach to the problem.

Background: M. Peevie is very bright. She's in first grade at her little private Lutheran school, and she's reading well above the level targeted by the first grade curriculum. So her teacher, Mrs. K, has put her into a special reading enrichment group with a couple of other girls from her class who are also advanced readers.

The reading enrichment instructor, we'll call her Mrs. Sheets, seems to think that reading enrichment consists of reading a story and then completing several assignment sheets related to the story--coloring sheets, word search sheets, and how-to-draw-Curious-George sheets. On a recent day, the only assignment that had any enrichment value was the instruction to write a paragraph telling what you're curious about.

So M. Peevie did all her assignments, including writing a really great paragraph describing what she's curious about; but somehow, she misplaced one of the coloring sheets. When she showed up at enrichment class one coloring sheet short, Mrs. Sheets sent her back to her regular class for being "unprepared."

Now she--and all the other kids in the class who don't want this to happen to them--are all focused on and anxious about whether they have all of their materials in their folder--not on anything remotely related to reading enrichment. And I am ready to pop a blood vessel in my brain.

I'm not a reading expert, or a teacher. I don't have any expertise in this area at all--but it seems intuitively obvious to me that a reading enrichment program should at minimum encourage confidence in and enjoyment of reading, build vocabulary, and encourage writing because of the writing/reading connection.

So, dear readers, and especially those of you who do have expertise in this arena, here is your assignment, should you choose to accept it: Could you send me links to articles, or quotes from experts, articles or books, that describe best practices in reading enrichment? Could you confirm or deny my intuition about reading enrichment that coloring and word search sheets do not add value, but that confidence and self-esteem building are important components?

Please forward this post to your colleagues and others who have expertise. I know it doesn't have the same urgency as an Amber Alert, but there's a window of opportunity here, and I dont want to miss it.

I await your wisdom.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

E. Peevie,

Maybe this will be of assistance to you and M. Peevie: (www.childparenting.about.com/od/
learningenrichment/a/learntoread_2.htm). Reading through it, I gotta say that your opinions on M. Peevie's reading enrichment at school (or, as you tell it, an apparent lack thereof) are right on the money. Reading and writing should be taught through activities that really encourage the children to read, write, and pursue a life filled with both. After all, isn't that the point of learning advanced skills at a young age? To prepare kids for the challenges they'll face later on and encourage them to continue learning throughout their entire life. Anyway, I hope that this helps you out, and good luck with the reading enrichment!

E. Peevie said...

Anon,

Thanks for the link. I checked it out briefly, and it looks like it will be helpful.

I've decided that I need to be more proactive about how I approach M. Peevie's learning. Since she's so bright, I've kind of been slacking off, and letting her just read and learn on her own.

But I think I'm going to be more involved, and make sure that we spend 30 minutes every day reading together--her to me, and me to her. We started yesterday, and she's very motivated.

Thanks for your input.

E. Peevie

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