Reluctant Reader as Author

Literacy specialist, Pat Martin,  authored this guest blog on one of publishing projects.
Pat Martin last guest blogged about the Parents’ Literacy Publishing Project

Img_0182_2Cuyler, a winsome first grader, has published his first book.  The experience encouraged him to exclaim, “I’m going to publish more than 1000 books. I have so much more to say.”

Mid-way through his second year of formal schooling, Cuyler should be reading about level 9/10 (guided reading text level as described by Pinnell and Fountas).  He’s not.  However, after reading a text created by MaryAnn McAlpin, a retired Reading Recovery teacher, for her grandson, Cuyler was motivated to create his own text using that model.

“I’m going to publish more than 1000 books. I have so much more to say.” ~ Cuyler, a 1st grader

Writing his personal text benefits Cuyler in so many ways.  His extensive daily vocabulary is supported by actual printed text.  His interests, vehicles of every description and outdoor life, become the basis of his text which further stimulates his daily effort to acquire reading skill.  As such noted advocates for boy literacy as Ralph Fletcher and Michael Gurian note, primary texts and writing prompts seldom deal with the world that interests boys.  There is scant opportunity to connect with the texts, to bring personal experience into the reading/writing or to interact with the text content.

Img_0193_2 Capturing Cuyler’s explanations and descriptions as a book’s text mimics interactive writing or the daily journal writing in the reading Recovery lesson.  And what child wouldn’t read and reread a book of their pictures and writing?  What better way to achieve fluency?  Certainly a more exciting, engaging and authentic method than grappling through Cuyler’s four inch thick stack of Dolch sight words – a practice he he finds less than engaging. Cuyler now sees himself as a literate individual.  He is excited about the growing up as a reader and writer rather than defeated by the challenges that text holds. 

By providing text that supports him as a reader and validates him as a writer, Cuyler is on the path of literacy.  And he is an excited traveler who wants to know “how many days until we go back to that learning lab so I can publish books.”Img_0192_2

For sometime now I’ve been an advocate of new print on demand technologies to give students a chance to publish their learning for an authentic audience and purpose. I’ve partnered with Pat Martin, a literacy specialist and Suzanne Suor, an educational technology consultant, to open a Educational Publishing Learning Lab in Rochester NY. We offer a variety of training packages to assist teachers and districts in taking advantage of the new opportunities in digital publishing. The lab is located at ColorCentric digital publishers, so participants can not only learn how to publish, but tour the facility to see books being made. For more information on how you and your students can publish your own books visit our website Read > Think > Write > Publish

Literacy Strategies for the Multi-Ability Classroom: Part I

I recently presented a workshop for teachers from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. The goal was to share strategies for working with struggling readers in multi-ability classrooms in juvenile detention facilities around the state. I used reader profiles to guide teachers through identification of struggling readers and appropriate learning strategies. Here are tri-folds of three types of struggling reader. Non-Reader, Word Caller and Turned Off. (each a 200kb pdf) Print them out back to back. Developed with Pat Martin. Reference: Differentiated Instructional Strategies for Reading in the Content Area, Carolyn Chapman and Rita King

I was joined by Suzanne Suor, a learning specialist who focuses on motivating struggling readers through the use of student publication projects. This spring we will be working with OCFS teachers from across the state in staff development training. We plan to collect samples of student work to review the impact of our literacy strategies in the classroom. We’ll combine strategies, student work and teacher reflection in publications to share with the students and their families. 

This dedicated group of teachers has a commitment to helping their students build motivation, positive self image and academic skills. They already have many great project ideas for student publications – example teen fathers writing and publishing their own books for their children. For more on professional development with a product see PowerPoint overview. (400kb pdf)

For more strategies see: Literacy Strategies for the Multi-Ability Classroom: Part II

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