Hello! I'm Ashley Howell, a high school English teacher in California.
My Topic and Purpose
The topic of this course is raising the level of literacy in a high school classroom by encouraging students to read for pleasure. This course is designed for high school teachers who want to raise the literacy level of their classes. Literacy level here will refer to the amount students read, particularly for pleasure, during the school year. This is informally called, "fostering a love of reading". This course is for teachers who want to learn how to develop in their students a life-long-love of reading.
When finished with this course, learners will
- Be able to design and implement a Joy of Reading project that fits the particular theme or curriculum of their class.
- Understand the practices that lead to raised literacy.
- Know where to access the research that supports these interventions.
1. Instructional problem
Most teenagers do not enjoy reading, and most do not make time for it as an activity when at home. According to the American Psychological Association, current trends indicate that reading for pleasure has decreased substantially in teens since the 1990s (Twenge, 2018). This is made more alarming by the observation that books are now available in electronic format, theoretically making them more accessible to teens now than ever. In a survey of 12th graders in 2016, only 16% of respondents reported reading from a book or magazine each day. That number is down from the 1970s, when 60% of 12th graders reported reading each day (Twenge, 2018). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2016), it’s even worse, with teens spending just 6 minutes a day reading for pleasure. According to the Foundation for Economic Education, half of American 12th graders read by choice once or twice a year (Holmquist, 2017).
It’s not just that students are on their phones too much to read; one allegation leveled at schools is that our modern practices often make reading into a chore (Holmquist, 2017). When we talk about reading, it’s often divided into “for fun” and “for school” - and one of those is regarded as work (Denby, 2016). When what students read at school feels like work, it changes their attitude toward reading for pleasure as well (Gallagher, 2009).
Why is this a problem? According to the Nation’s Report Card, two out of three students leave school without proficient literacy skills (NAEP, 2019). This carries into adulthood, as most adults do not make time for reading either, since teens who do not read become adults who do not care for reading. This creates a struggle later in life, as reading comprehension and attention spans are down (Twenge, 2018). Further, reading is a fundamental skill which is critical for understanding complex issues and developing critical thinking skills, something employers ask for, and something which is imperative that informed citizens have (Twenge, 2018).
Douglas Fisher (2016) suggests that the cure for all this is raising the literacy level in the classroom - using practices that help cultivate the joy of reading.
2. What is to be Learned
Educators will learn the benefits of increasing literacy in their classroom. Participants will learn how to design a Joy of Reading project in their own classroom.
3. The Learners
The learners are other teachers and pre-service teachers taking ETAP 623. Most likely, the learners who choose this course will be serving grade range 7-12.
Learners who choose this course are most likely English or Social Science teachers who are interested in raising the level of literacy in the classroom. Learners most likely have some familiarity with reading practices.
4. Context for Instruction
Content will be delivered online, and participants will be able to access it at home or at work, wherever they have an internet connection and a computer.
5. Exploring the Instructional Problem and Solution
The course will guide participants to an understanding of current problems in literacy levels and present evidence for why it is worthwhile for teachers to try to raise it. Participants will explore ideas for raising the literacy level in their own classroom, and engage in activities that allow them to design their own project.
6. Goals of this Mini-Course
A goal of the course is to have educators gain an understanding of the need for raising literacy in the classroom. Another goal is to give educators the tools to be able to implement strategies in their classrooms that would foster a life-long love of reading in students.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016, December 20). American Time Use Survey. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/tus/charts/leisure.htm.
Denby, David. (2016, February 23). Do Teens Read Seriously Anymore? The New Yorker. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/books-smell-like-old-people-the-decline-of-teen-reading
Fisher, D., Frey, N., Hattie, J. (2016) Visible Learning for Literacy, Grades K-12: Implementing the Practices That Work Best to Accelerate Student Learning. Corwin Literacy.
Gallagher, K. (2009). Readicide: How schools are killing reading and what you can do about it. Stenhouse Publishers.
Holmquist, Annie. (2017, August 03). Do Schools Teach Kids to Hate Reading? Foundation for Economic Education. Retrieved from https://fee.org/articles/do-schools-teach-kids-to-hate-reading
The Nation’s Report Card, (2019). How Did U.S. Students Perform on the Most Recent Assessments? The National Assessment of Education Progress. Retrieved from https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/
Twenge, J. M., Martin, G. N., & Spitzberg, B. H. (2018, August 16). Trends in U.S. Adolescents’ Media Use, 1976–2016: The Rise of Digital Media, the Decline of TV, and the (Near) Demise of Print. Psychology of Popular Media Culture. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000203
Analysis of the Learner and Context
Define course-level target objectives
- The learner will reflect on and self-assess his or her own strategies for encouraging reading
- Following the presentation of resources and ideas, learners will reflect on new strategies to explore by identifying which stand out the most.
- Keep a record of, and reflect on, the resources and information you accessed during the course, and create a visual representation of the resources that seem useful to you.
- Create an outline using 3 or more strategies and how they could fit into your current practice.
Elaborate and analyze the objectives to identify more specific enabling and supporting objectives.
Map out the sequence of learning units and activities to achieve the defined objectives.