Good Readers are Everywhere

Today in class, we began our discussion of John Locke and some of the philosophy which shaped our government (such as his famous “Two Treatises of Government”). This is all very abstract, meaning they are concepts which have little concrete meaning. For example, we know the capital of Illinois is Springfield; we can travel there and visit. But you cannot visit, see, or touch a “state of nature.” When students read, their attention span lasts approximately 30 seconds. The typical and popular connections to their personal lives become diversions to talk off topic as long as possible.

To make this a little easier for the students, we discuss what it takes to be a good reader. We ALL have to read challenging, boring, or long material. But how? We all have the fear of going broke or professional embarrassment if we don’t keep up with our education, but few students have similar motivations. They’ll read as little as they can/must, and move on. Frequently, the read without really knowing what they’ve read. Which leads us to our main point: Good readers KNOW what they’re reading! Reading classes refer to this as comprehension, of course.

We will work all year on this, but no where is it better to prove the point that readers exist outside of the reading classroom than in my room. We read new, challenging material, and students don’t need to learn new strategies, but to apply what they know to my material. Today, we discussed the very simple strategy of mind mapping (for myself and picture smart people), outlining (for number or words smart students) and reading together (for music or people smart students). Here’s an example of what we did together:

Mind mapping the influence of John Locke on our Founding Fathers

Additionally, I tried to show the kids that even I still do this (got to practice whatcha preach!!). I’ve head some heavy Grad School reading about assessment practices and cognitive theories of teaching; I cannot comprehend all of this (KNOW what I am reading!) without doing some notetaking and mind mapping. Here’s an example:

My notes from an Reading Theory course I took last spring.