Monday, July 27, 2009

Comprehending


I'm reading the following for a course I am taking,

schools need to be able to provide high-quality instruction in both word-level and comprehension skills in order to meet the diverse needs of students who continue to struggle with reading in late-elementary, middle, and high school
and it occurs to me that this statement appears perfectly okay. But is it? If literacy is communicating and comprehending using a medium, then isn't focusing on just one kind of literacy in schools doing learners a disservice?
While I agree wholeheartedly, and took all but two courses for a reading specialist, I'm thinking beyond just reading. What about those learners who struggle with visual literacy, musical literacy, or movement literacies? Are the schools to focus on just reading literacy to the exclusion of the others?
Are all literacies connected or independent of each other? What have you learned in your travels through life about this topic? Tim Shanahan at literacy learning claims,
Good comprehension instruction should push kids to think more deeply
Why not good comprehension instruction in activities other than reading? When was the last time you pushed kids to think more deeply about a painting, a sculpture, a symphony, a theatrical play, a modern dance (just to name a few in no particular order)
technorati tags:
Photo courtesy of marttj available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/29241010@N00/71654890 covered under Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons license.

1 comment:

Kerrie Gustin said...

I agree wholeheartedly! In my classroom it has always been difficult for me to view or teach content areas separately. Every subject is connected, just like every different aspect of living is integrated in to the one existence that is a life.

Literacy is about expressing, sending, receiving, understanding, applying, integrating, reflecting, accepting, vetting, rejecting, remixing...the list could go on forever, and it applies to everything in our experience; not just written and oral language (as found in the traditional classroom paradigm). It is my belief that we do our students a disservice when we limit our literacy instruction to the "reading" content area.

This has always been a bit of a soapbox for me, with all of the years I spend as a literacy intervention specialist before returning to the classroom. Colleagues used to question the fact that I was "teaching" math, social studies, science, health, art, etc., during my literacy groups. It made me sad that it seemed such a difficult concept for so many teachers to grasp.

Thanks for this post! I hope it inspires much rethinking and discussion about the nature of literacy and how it should be taught in the classroom.