Richardson ,J.S. et al (2009: 69) A well-behaved class of all minority seventh grade students from an inner-city middle school sat attentively and waited for the teacher to tell them how to proceed in reading from the textbook. The teacher sat at his desk with pencil and grade book and called on each student in the class to orally read a paragraph of the passage. He put a grade in his book each time a student read. When the first student finished reading his paragraph, he put his head down and went to sleep-he knew his time to perform in the class had come and gone. The next few students were counting the paragraphs to see which was theirs; when they found their paragraphs, they began_, to whisper audibly as they practiced reading their own paragraphs. The teacher went around the room in this manner and called on students to read; but he skipped over some students. They were the ones that everyone knew couldn't read.
The topic in social studies for this inner-city class of seventh graders was hubris, Greek pride, and the Delphi oracle. Pardon the bad pun, but this was totally Greek to these students. They had no understanding of what was happening in the class. They had no prior knowledge about the topic, and orally decoding the print wasn't helping them much that day. In addition, there was no discussion of the topic, and students didn't seem to be really listening to other students as they read.
Have you ever seen a class like this? More of these classes exist than you might believe. What could the teacher have done to improve the situation?
Richardson ,J.S. et al (2009:70) The authors of this book maintain that students are having difficulty in reading because they are not receiving the right reading experiences in school. Most of the time students are asked to answer end-of chapter comprehension questions or fill in endless worksheet spaces. In addition, most reading that is done in class is oral reading with one student reading the text aloud and all other students listening, as in this chapter's opening scenario.
Richardson ,J.S. et al (2009:70) We are in this unenviable state because students are simply not motivated to read. In addition, they don't read to learn; rather, they read to please a teacher, get a grade (as the students were doing in the scenario), or find answers to questions that they find inherently uninteresting. Motivation doesn't happen for students as they are reading or doing dull exercises. The student has to be motivated prior to reading. Students have to be taught to think about a topic in various ways before they start to before they start to read. Teachers need to both determine students' prior knowledge before reading and build on that knowledge to frame a lesson in a proper learning context.
Richardson ,J.S. et al (2009: 71) A proficient reader spends time getting ready to read by determining and building 'background. Instead of plunging into the reading, the reader must prepare. Good comprehension is a natural result, just as playing a game successfully is the natural result of hard work in practice. Teachers who are aware of this phenomenon and help students in the preparation stage of reading are like good coaches.
Richardson ,J.S. et al (2009:72-73) The most important way a teacher can succeed in a classroom with a wide variation reading ability is to plan each lesson to include adequate preparation time to introduce the lesson and determine and build on prior knowledge. Teachers need to carefully prepare readers beforehand through discussion of the text and through use of strategies such as those we explain in this chapter. Teachers and readers who ignore this step neglect a crucial part of the overall process of reading.
Richardson ,J.S. et al (2009:140) Everyone agrees that one of the most important ways to emphasize reflection in reading is to ask students to think critically about what they read. Thinking like a researcher enables students to think critically. By reinforcing the reading experience through critical thinking, teachers can challenge students to think about content material in new ways.
Too often, however, classroom teachers, especially at the elementary level, shy away from teaching critical thinking. One reason for this is that there is no clear definition of the construct. Another reason is that teachers mistakenly believe that critical means to find fault and emphasize the negative. Also, critical thinking is a difficult construct to measure through teacher-made tests, and critical thinking skills are not mandated for minimum competence in many subjects.
Richardson ,J.S. et al (2009:141) In addition, some teachers have the notion that at-risk learners are not capable of critical thinking. Finally, teachers often say that they do not have adequate time to plan instruction i critical thinking and lack appropriate materials and books to teach it properly. Despite these perceived obstacles, teaching critical thinking should not be neglected at any grade level. This important ability leads to greater success in academic subjects and will be useful to students after grad action. In short, critical thinking is a skill that will aid students in all facets of life. We can clarify our view of critical thinking by studying what happens when this skill is put to use.