As an English teacher, I noticed that each time I assigned a text to read, I got more moans and groans and less reception to the task. So I asked why. I was devastated when more than half of the teens I teach, including advanced academics students, proudly admitted they hate reading. One of the issues with reading in the demographic in which I teach is opportunity and access to quality literature. Teens said it's boring, irrelevant and outdated. While I do believe the outdated "canon" should be studied, teens need more contemporary works paired, added or spiraled with the Shakespeares, Melvilles, Thoreaus, Waldens and Hemingways of old.
Nevertheless, their honesty explained why I have 17- and 18-year old near-adults who read and write on a 4th or 5th grade level (and projecting their skill at that level is generous). It made me want to cry. What's worse is that when I attended professional development training, many English teachers also openly admitted that they do not like reading and/or do not assign novel studies in their classrooms!
It's devastating. Curable. But devastating.
As a possible solution, in October, 2018, I created an organization called #BrownTeensRead for the sole purpose of hosting fun, engaging and relevant events that appeal to teens and get them interested or re-interested in reading! With the right support, we will also offer professional development to teachers to show them how to effectively implement literature studies in their classrooms.
Unfortunately, we're only a small piece in a larger puzzle. Check out these other facts: from The Literacy Project:
- “20% of Americans read below the level needed to earn a living wage.”
- “50% of American adults can’t read a book written at an eighth grade level.”
- “Six out of ten American households do not buy a single book in an entire year.”
- “85% of juvenile offenders have problems reading.”
- “Three out of five people in American prisons can’t read.”
- Some states look at how well current elementary schools perform on reading tests to help determine the number of beds future prisons will require. It comes full circle.
- One in four children grow up without learning how to read.
- Three out of four food stamp recipients perform in the lowest two literacy levels.
So what does reading mean to you? How do these statistics effect you? Can you read well? If not, why not? What do you plan to do about it? (And please don't say you don't need to know how to read to make money or be rich because that's a whole other blog post.) Do you have younger siblings who struggle with or cannot read? What will you do about it?
1. INCLUDE: First initial AND last name AND class period.
2. Respond in no more than 10 sentences and no less than five.
3. You MUST respond to at least TWO other posts from any student. Your replies cannot be identical comments on different posts and posting shallow comments such as "I agree" or "I disagree" will earn you a zero. Make sure your reply addresses the comment that you are responding to.
Be sure to--
- Be clear about your position
- Provide specific support for your argument
- Use rhetorical devices and other grammar elements
- Write EPIC Content-Engaging, Powerful, Informative, Creative
CAUTION!! Do NOT embarrass me, yourself, your class, the English department, the school or your parents with tasteless, meaningless comments. This is for a grade.
DISCLAIMER: If you do not respond AND comment on TWO others, you will not receive credit for this assignment. It's all or nothing.
Due: Sun., Apr. 7, 2019 11:59 p.m. CST
If you would like to submit a topic for discussion, submit it here.