A “louse reader” in Mr. McGuire’s sixth-grade English class wrote him a note: “I hate reading Book’s Mr. Mc Giure. I hate them all.”
The teacher wonders: What to do now?
The Book Whisperer, also a sixth-grade teacher, warns that popular teaching techniques let “fake readers” pass through the system with weak comprehension skills.
Whole-class novels and literature circlesâ€”Fake readers wait for the class discussions about the assigned reading and pick up details about the book from the other students and the teacher. I remember such discussions from my days in school. The teacher pointed out the literary terms, provided text examples, and reinforced her interpretation of the book. It did not take an English degree to determine what would be on the end-of-unit test!
Round robin or popcorn readingâ€”Fake readers are often good at decoding. When they are called on to read out loud in front of the class, they can word call their way through a short piece of text. Since round robin reading does not require readers to comprehend an entire reading selection, fake readers can, once again, depend on the understanding of other students and information provided by the teacher to build meaning.
I tutored a sixth-grade girl with excellent decoding skills and virtually no comprehension. I also worked with a sixth-grade boy who couldn’t decode. He was a great guesser, however. I was supposed to make him read. It felt cruel.