Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How Do You Go from Learning to Read to Reading to Learn?

A really killer A-ha!

While discussing the upcoming focus groups with Co-Artistic Director, Jane Jones, a discovery was made. Book-It staff is doing an exercise where we’re finishing our mission statement “...and to inspire our audiences to read...” examples might be “a book by the same author,” “for pleasure,” or “to see things from a different perspective.” The exercise is designed to help us develop hypotheses that we can explore in the focus groups. As I took notes on how Jane would finish our mission statement, she was making reading comprehension connections. THIS IS THE WORK! Here's the deal, we can say the Book-It Style can change/help/be a catalyst for literacy, but that means very little to learners, funders, audience members, until we are able to explicitly state how.

As we talked, I probed about her thinking & reading process that's developed because of working in the BIS - I was able to make concrete connections to reading comprehension - the process of making meaning out of words, phrases, sentences. This is the same research they did when trying to figure out how to teach people how to read. They watched, questioned, studied good readers to codify their process. These are people who naturally read well. They took these processes and they became "reading strategies" - these are what we now teach children and struggling readers of all ages when they move from learning how to read (grades K-2) to reading to learn (grades 3 and up). This is awesome and the meat of our work if we are to develop a literacy center. More will be explored with both Artistic Directors Jane and Myra Platt and perhaps other artists in the company.

And...check out the article our high school students wrote about the Book-It Page-to-Stage project. This is the project where we’ve been piloting assessment tools. It’s titled, “Think it, write it, Book-It!” – sounds a lot like a TCG grant. There are some facts in the article that are a little off - for example, it’s our 9th year not the 20th at the school – but whatever, between the pictures and article you’ll get a sense for the student work around analyzing, adapting, and performing their own poetry – all stuff we’ve been digging into because of TCG.

Think it, write it, Book-It!

-- Gail Sehlhorst, Book-It

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