Have you ever wondered why students always struggle when it comes to the written language? Why do they hang their head and moan when the time comes for ELA classes? I recently had a student tell me that they LOVE my class, but the HATE reading!
Why I Sometimes Hate Elementary School
Many moons ago, I taught reading in elementary school. One primary focus at this level is Reading Fluency. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the merits of reading fluency. But in the mind of a child, the goal of trying to “up their word count” can cause them to falsely believe that reading is about WPM. I have seen students get up to 160 WPM, yet have no understanding of anything they have read. I call these students “word callers.” They have substituted actual reading for the purpose of making teachers smile with a magic number that does not always translate into reading comprehension.
Deprogramming Middle School Students
Reading is about comprehension. No matter how you slice it, this is the goal of reading. If students are unable to comprehend, analyze, and then apply the text, word count becomes a secondary point. What I noticed about myself is that I am a slow reader. I still get in trouble for holding on to a phone too long to read a shared text. This slow reading seemed to always cause anxiety, until I realized that many of the speed readers weren’t welcome to the Honor Rolls parties. That’s when I became comfortable with the idea of understanding what I read.
This anxiety lives on in the hearts of my students. They will sacrifice comprehension for the fear of feeling like they are moving too slow. This problems follows them into their independent work and now “looking” done has become more important that doing things right! If you are are parent, you understand the frustration of trying to get your child to slow down, refer back to the text, and just generally make sure their answers just make sense! If you are feeling this way, you are not alone. It doesn’t matter if your child is traditional or virtual. It’s time to deprogram our students and prioritize comprehension over word count.