Monday, December 09, 2019

building readers

An OpEd in the New York Times  tells about success in Mississippi in teaching children to read. The idea Mississippi legislators came up with was that if teachers were taught the scientific basis for success in reading, their students would have greater success. The simple formula is this.

  decoding ability x language comprehension = reading comprehension 

You'll note in this formula that if decoding ability is zero, the reading comprehension is also zero. Or if language comprehension is zero, then reading comprehension will also be zero. So teachers in Mississippi are taught to emphasize both the use of words and the decoding and sounding out strings of letters. What they fail to mention is a third factor, readiness to read. Not all children mature to be ready to read at the same time. When they're not ready, frustration ensues, and school districts spend hundreds of millions of dollars attempting fix something that should never have been broken in the first place.

When I visited the University of Helsinki wood shop in 2008, I found Kindergarten teachers learning to teach woodworking to their kids. Each teacher was excitedly engaged. Woodworking builds language comprehension, as does doing other real things. By delaying the start of school reading until age 8 and by doing other real things in school, beyond reading and math, the Finns build better readers in 30% less time.

In my own shop, I've been attending to orphaned boxes, those left unfinished after using them to demonstrate techniques. The photo shows installing hinges and one finished box.

Make, fix and create...

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