A Sneak Peek at Readicide. . .

So here it is, Radical Nation:  The beginning of our conversation with Kelly Gallagher about reading instruction in America starts today (a day early, mind you!  Figured no one would complain) with a link to download his new book Readicide: How Schools are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It.

Here’s the direct linkDownload Readicide.

You can also find more information about Readicide on the Stenhouse website by visiting this link(BTW: We should be thankful to both Kelly and Stenhouse for making this conversation happen!)

To focus your reading, consider the following questions:

Kelly is passionate about what he calls the 50/50 approach to teaching reading:  50% of the reading that his students do in class is academic and 50% of the reading that his students do in class is recreational.  Is this an approach that would work in your school?  Why or why not?

At one point in Readicide, Kelly argues that reading teachers shouldn’t teach the reading.  Instead, they should teach the reader.  What do you think he means by this?  Would it be a fair summary of the entire book?  How well do the teachers in your building follow this advice?

What instructional practices does Kelly argue against in Readicide?  What instructional practices does he argue in favor of?  What percentage of time do students and teachers in your school spend engaged in the ineffective practices that Kelly describes?  What percentage of time do students and teachers spend engaged in the effective practices that he describes?

In our evidence-driven world, advocates for change in education can’t merely argue on passion or intuition.  Instead, they need tangible evidence to prove that their practices are effective.  What is the most convincing evidence you can find in Readicide that schools are killing reading?  How will you use this evidence to drive change in your own schools or communities?

At times, Kelly is hard on schools and teachers in Readicide—arguing that we need to be more proactive in standing up for responsible instruction.  How do you feel about that?  Do teachers need to take ownership over the current reading crisis in our country?  What barriers prevent you from standing up for change?  Does Readicide provide any tools that you can use to take action?

Clearly, the reward that teachers care about the most are the moments when we know that we’ve touched a child in a positive way, helping them to succeed in an area where they’ve struggled.  Think about a moment like this during your teaching career.  What was it that ‘worked’ in that situation?  Can the lessons learned be stretched to other students?  Why or why not?

So dive in, huh?  Building your understanding of effective—and ineffective—reading instruction will make you a better practitioner, and building your knowledge of the evidence supporting the argument that schools are killing reading will make you a better advocate for change.  This is simply a conversation that we can’t ignore.

And make plans to join us at some point between January 18th and January 22nd for a focused conversation with Kelly about reading in America.  You can learn more about our conversation by rereading this post from the Radical.  A link to the live conversation—being hosted with a digital tool called Voicethread—-will be posted here in my blog on the morning of the 18th.

10 thoughts on “A Sneak Peek at Readicide. . .

  1. Mary

    I’m excited to read this, but the download link isn’t working. I know this was posted in January, so could be out of date, but I just heard about it.
    Thanks!

  2. Bob Heiny

    Thanks, Mr. Bill, for providing the link to this essay. It earns a “B” in an intro undergraduate education class. Clever title. Acceptable writing. Easy reading. Probably will grow legs among those who accept journalistics.
    However, the content appears mostly a rehash with contemporary references of principles others have lamented for decades, even when public schools held a premium position in global comparisons.
    This essay adds more heat than light about relationships among learning, teaching, and schooling. The heat derives in part from differences in political views of public schooling.
    Your questions capture that heat and offer openings for others to add light.
    I look forward to reviewing your and hopefully your readers illumination through your venue.

  3. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Miss W!
    Thanks for stopping by the Radical to read Readicide—-and I hope that you’ll jump in the conversation on Voicethread this week!
    One of the strands that I’d like to see us explore is how reading instruction varies across the globe. The American press likes to point out how our schools are always falling behind in international comparisions, while American teachers are handcuffed by instructional strategies that we don’t necessairly believe in, but that “prepare students for the test.”
    If you—-and colleagues like you from around the world—-were to jump into our Voicethread conversation, you’d be able to help us to paint a clear picture for what successful nations are doing for our administrators.
    Rock right on,
    Bill

  4. Miss W.

    Hi Bill,
    Just sat here at my computer and read the book. A pity so much nowadays relates to testing. I hope we don’t go that far here in Australia.
    In my classroom, both kids and other teachers are often amazed at the amount of reading material I have in the room. Most of it I have bought myself or earned through using Scholastic books. The students love being able to choose what free books we receive.
    As Kelly says though, it is built up over time and new teachers to the profession have to either spend their own money or nag to get money to buy these extremely useful tools.
    Using SSR in my room, we start about 10 minutes for first couple of weeks and build up to 30 minute sessions. Because I do this in the afternoon lessons usually when students can then carry on with other work to finish, some students continue with their recreational reading for the whole 55 minute lesson.

  5. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Sharon,
    I’m glad that you spoke up on behalf of teacher librarians! Here in the States, they’re often the first positions cut when budgets get tight.
    I also know that I never use the teacher librarians in our school. For me, it’s a problem of coordination—getting time to sit down and collaborate with our teacher librarians has just proven to be difficult, given the overloaded work schedules of both of our days.
    I hope you’ll stop by our Voicethread conversation on the 18th-22nd to lend some advice on how teacher librarians could play a more active role in changing the current state of the classroom teaching of reading.
    I need the guidance!
    Bill

  6. Sharon McGuinness

    I have read ‘Readicide’ and applaud many of the comments made by Mr Gallagher. As a teacher librarian in Australia, ensuring our school library is stocked with a wide variety of reading material that my students will enjoy reading is of paramount importance. The link between a well resourced school library, a qualified teacher librarian and student achievement is well proven. Often schools overlook one of their best resources – the teacher librarian in helping teachers switch kids onto reading. The public library also plays a vital role – particularly during summer which, as Mr Gallagher notes,is when student reading drops off. Many public libraries hold summer reading initiatives which aim to keep that interest bubbling away. Teacher librarians, school and public libraries play a vital role in avoiding readicide. How well does your children’s school library shape up? Is it well resourced? Does your child’s school employ a qualified teacher librarian who is well placed to match child to book? Does your public library employ a childrens/young adult librarian? If not, why not?

  7. Sharon Williams

    Thank you so much for providing us this incredible opportunity. I have shared this with my fellow reading teachers and administrators. The preview came just in time for the new Literacy Committee started at our school.

  8. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Melanie and Clix,
    Glad that the both of you are interested in Readicide and are planning on stopping by the conversation on the 18th through the 22nd.
    Hope you’ll be active contributors—the more commentary we get, the more collectively intelligent we’ll all be!
    See you then,
    Bill

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