Friday, October 8, 2010

PLENK2010 One reason why learners shut down.

The general public, and some teachers, believe 1) that teachers at higher grades must know more than teachers at lower grades, that if you taught K last year, and now teach 4 or 7, you must have studied to move up in level; and 2) teaching K/1/2/3 is, and I quote, “playing with the babies”.  The reality is that it is very much harder to teach children who do not know how to read than it is to teach those who do. 
   But once you get over the Phonics and the Dolch list of Sight Words, that is once the children are de-coding successfully, you come up against the skills of Mindful Reading.  The teacher must know the principles of SQ3R, Guided Reading, and share with the student “Now we are going to look at how you read for information and how you locate the facts you need.”  If you are giving helpful grammar lessons that focus on reading for meaning, and the children have been used to applied parsing for locating key concepts, this is not a problem.  If the teacher is hazy on parsing and composition, and there are more than a few, the students are going to go through school depending on “I always do it that way.” and “Does it sound right?” 
   When you took your teacher training, did you examine curricula so that you can match Grade 4 reading writing skills and match them with texts written for the learning student.  Do you know that Grade 4 reading level means that “the student has passed Grade 4”.  A student in Grade 4 cannot read a Grade 4 text on his own—Grade 4 is his Instructional Level; the teacher must treat every ‘subject’ lesson as a Guided Reading lesson.  He might stretch to Grade 5 level from time to time with the teacher’s help for that will be at his Frustration Level.  If he is to read the text on his own, it must be at his Independent Level of Grade 3 or lower.
   Did you know that the text book may be written about two grades reading level higher than the Grade Level.  For instance, the Grade 5 Social Studies text is written at Grade 7 reading level.  The student sent home with the text and an assignment, unless he reads above grade level, will be FRUSTRATED.  No wonder so many kids are turned off learning. 
   Do you know how to determine the reading level of the text you are using?  There are a couple of formulas.  Microsoft Word will use the Flesch-Kincaid formula.  Click on Tools in the toolbar.  Click Spelling and Grammar.  At the bottom of the pop-up click Options.  Click Show readability statistics.  Select the text you wish to test.  Click on Spelling and grammar.  When it asks if you want to it to check the rest of the document select No.  Then it should show you the readability scores.
(this paragraph: passive sentences 0% Flesh readability 73% Flesch-Kincaid reading level 4.7) 
   The more passive sentences, the more expository sentences there are and the less narrative.  Expository is harder to read.  Writing passive sentences effectively is a Grade 10 lesson.   In readability, 100% is the easiest to read.  Rudolph Flesh admitted that the Reading Age Level formula is not terribly accurate below Grade 4/5 level as primary books depend on pictures to tell much of the story.
   It will make more sense to you if you try a few examples by hand.

# of words/sentence

# of syllables/word



- 15.59

   If you wish, you can buy programs on the Internet that will calculate the most popular formulas for you.

A colleague commented to me: "This [the formula] is also useful for researchers who are performing research amongst people whose 1st language is not English - helps them ensure that their survey forms, disclaimers, consent forms, etc can actually be understood."

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