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Resilience and Learning
September 12, 2013 | Volume 8 | Issue 25
Table of Contents
Resilient Readers in a High-Poverty Elementary School
Because I teach in the world of high-stakes testing, I have often had to remind my elementary students that learning how to read well isn't about a test; it's about the rest of their life. Kids may think of their teachers as people who provide reading strategies to help them on state assessments, but the real goal is to develop students into lifelong readers.
Krovetz said it perfectly: "Supporting resilience in children is based on deeply held beliefs that what we do every day around children makes a difference in their lives" (2008, p. 10). He discussed three principles for building resilience in children that I incorporate into small-group reading interventions at the high-poverty elementary school where I am a literacy coach: high expectations and support, creating communities rich in caring, and meaningful participation.
High Expectations and Support
Besides having high expectations, students need to know that I believe they are readers. They need to know we will support them and allow them to take risks in small groups. If we want them to develop the strategies they need to be successful learners, it is crucial to scaffold learning and use the gradual release model (Pearson & Gallagher, 1983) with lots of opportunities to practice metacognitive and fix-up strategies and receive meaningful feedback. It isn't enough to practice the strategies in small-group work, however; students need to practice reading strategies all day, especially during independent work. Their homework is to tell me how they applied the strategies learned in our small group outside of our group.
Creating Communities Rich in Caring
I want my students to be not only successful readers in middle school, high school, and college, but also parents that read to their children. When I share my favorite read-aloud stories with them, I tell them that these are the same stories I read to my children at home. Some books are the same books that my parents read to me. I let students take the books home so that they can read them to their siblings and parents.
Giving students a choice in what they read is one way I encourage meaningful participation. When students are able to choose what they read, their motivation increases, they are more willing to participate, and they take ownership of their learning. Making learning relevant to their lives also helps me make connections with students. I choose children's literature that will be engaging to them, but many times the students I work with request to read what their friends are reading. Sometimes these books become an interactive read-aloud during the last 10 minutes of small-group time. Students have to participate in learning, but I do too. I need students to see me as a reader, how much I enjoy reading, and how I use reading strategies when I read.
Resilience in reading focuses on the importance of effort, problem solving, and practice. It does not matter to my students that we are not the same race or that I come from a different socioeconomic background, it matters that I care, that I want them to be successful, and that I provide them with the strategies they need to be lifelong readers.
Krovetz, M. L. (2008). Fostering resilience: Expecting all students to use their minds and hearts well (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Pearson, P. D., & Gallagher, M. C. (1983). The instruction of reading comprehension.
Contemporary Educational Psychology, 8(3), 317–344.
Bridget Stegman is a literacy coach and a doctoral candidate in educational leadership at Kansas State University.
ASCD Express, Vol. 8, No. 25. Copyright 2013 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.
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