Another call for a Reading Evolution (and as indicated before- it’s not a typo, I really mean an evolution!)
By Dr. Sam Bommarito
This coming week will be busy and exciting. I will be presenting about the reading wars at the Write to Learn Conference in Missouri. Today I want to fill you in about the conference and then give a brief preview of the things I’ll be saying. Next week I’m doing my blog early. It will appear Wednesday, the day before the conference. That blog will be about key points I will be making at the conference about the reading wars and how to end them. More on that in just a minute. Let me tell you quickly about some of the things that will be happening this week at the Write to Learn conference in Missouri.
I’ll start by saying the conference is co-sponsored by the Missouri literacy Association, an ILA affiliate. I am currently president of that Association. Although the conference is a state-level conference it often features speakers that you usually see at national conferences. This year it takes place from February 27th to 29th. It will be held at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. That location is almost dead center in the state. Our state is almost dead center in the nation. That means it’s close to everyone! Traditionally, registration is kept open, and walk-ins are welcome. Here is a link to the registration site:
From the webpage:
“National-level Keynote Speakers, Full-Day Workshops, and 70 Breakout Sessions on a Variety of Topics of Interest to K-12 Language Arts Teachers–the Write to Learn Conference has it All!”
I’m very excited about who will be there this year. Let’s have a look at what the conference organizer, Willy Wood, had to say:
I’m going to attend this pre-conference full-day session:
“How Critical Consciousness Informs Reading and Writing Instruction”
Penny Kittle, Author and Educational Consultant
Julia Torres, Teacher/Librarian, Denver Public Schools and Educational Consultant
My session will be on Friday. It is about the Reading Wars. To give you a little taste of what I’ll be talking about here is my answer to Steve Dykstra about a question he raised about one of my recent blog entries:
You can expect a spirited defense of balanced literacy along with a call to look at ALL the research surrounding the teaching of reading. There will also be a discussion of how we might begin a dialogue about all the best practices in the teaching of reading. Two years ago, I called for a reading evolution #readingevolution1. What’s that all about?
I hold that the reason the pendulum has been swinging back and forth between various methods of how to teach reading is really quite simple. It is because when it becomes apparent that what we are doing isn’t working well, there comes a call to try something new. The problem is that almost every time the call demands that all the current practices be removed and replaced with the newest soup de jour. When the new way fails to help everyone, it, in turn, becomes the target of calls for replacement. The pendulum always ends up at one extreme or the other, never in the middle. During my session, I will explain why I think it is likely the current “Science of Reading” movement will meet the same fate as all its predecessors. I argue that an alternate course of action might be prudent.
I suggest that what we’ve needed all along is not a revolution, i.e., jumping on the latest bandwagon and forsaking all previous things, but an evolution, i.e., tweaking things until they work. That would require all sides admitting their methods have limits and limitations. That would also require all sides to be willing to look at other points of view to help them with the things that don’t quite work doing things “their way.” It would require a reading evolution, where we would at long last find out what happens when you let the pendulum settle in the middle, something that has never happened in the entire 50 plus years I’ve been involved in education. Interested? I’ll have a lot more to say in my blog entry on Wednesday and the presentation at WTL. Hope you read the entry and even better- hope you come to Write to Learn if you can. Until then!
Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka, the one in the middle who is willing and able to take flak from all sides if that will help to end what Frank Smith once called the Endless Debate)
Copyright 2020 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.
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