Developing a Reading Community

Article excerpt

Developing a community of people interested in improving student reading achievement is an ongoing trend in education. This group needs to understand student needs and teaching of reading methodology. Learning here can be continuous and indepth. Time and effort need to be put forth to become engaged in studying and promoting reading achievement. Motivation and perseverance are two key concepts to stress when emphasizing a community of learners in reading instruction. With high stakes state mandated testing, it becomes even more important for teachers, school administrators, and the lay public to be involved in promoting the public school reading curriculum.

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Grade level teachers may develop a plan for the ensuing school year on assisting students in reading achievement. These grade level teachers need to decide when to meet and what the agenda will consist of for the meetings. Leadership may rotate for the different meeting dates. Thus, teachers individually have opportunities to be a leader for a group session. Each person should then have opportunities to:

* serve as chairperson for a community of learners session.

* present ideas for the next agenda.

* listen to the thinking of others within the community of learners.

* be actively involved in participating at each meeting.

* respect the thinking of the engaged person's ideas.

* assist the chairperson to conduct a productive meeting.

* learn methods of good group dynamics whereby ideas presented tend to circulate within the group, not between/ among a few members only.

* develop feelings of belonging in a community of learners.

* provide opportunities for an individual to achieve status within a group setting.

* learn as much as possible about the teaching of reading (Ediger, 2000, Chapter Thirteen).

There is much to learn in a community of learners when quality interaction among its members occur. Readiness is an important factor for each new meeting of the community. Each person then needs to possess adequate background information to benefit from the next meeting. Readiness comes about from doing much reading about the topic to be pursued, as well as thinking, studying, and observing the reading behavior of students in the classroom.

A Community of Classroom Reading Teachers

Classroom reading teachers for a specific grade level have much in common, as well as unique problems to discuss in assisting each student to achieve as optimally as possible. The identified problems need to be clearly selected so that research may be done to arrive at a solution. Reference materials must be available in the school's professional library for reading teachers. These materials may consist of textbooks, videotapes, cassettes, basal readers of several series and accompanying workbooks, slides, filmstrips, films, computerized reading software, and professional journals.

Community members need to:

* identify problem areas and agree upon the importance of each for the community of learners. Individual endeavors are also to be highly respected and prized in selecting problem areas to pursue.

* data sources used to obtain answers to a problem should be recent, possess quality ideas, be relevant, and understandable. Adequate information needs to be secured.

* hypotheses developed need to be in answer to the problem chosen for solving. Each hypothesis must be clearly stated, free from vagueness and haziness. Clarity of statement is vital.

* hypotheses need to be considered as being tentative and subject to change. Each hypothesis needs to be evaluated as to its accuracy and worth.

* hypothesis may be assessed through additional research and thought. Reading and studying materials of instruction from the professional school library is a good way to test an hypothesis. …