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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

You can't give 'Hop on Pop' to a 7th-grader

Middle schoolers who read at the first, second and third-grade level won't read "baby books" and can't read grade-level books, says Louise Baigelman. They need to learn foundational skills from books geared to their interests, she tells Michael Horn on his Future of Education blog.

"The Driving Test" is written at a fourth-grade reading level.

After teaching beginning readers in middle school, Baigelman founded Story Shares. Books feature teenage characters and situations. Photographs make the books "look more like a graphic novel that maybe your peer is reading," she says. Decodable texts are combined "into a chapter book so that they feel like a YA novel, but each chapter is on a discrete sound or skill that they're practicing." "Charlie" (a girl) has to choose whether she prefers "Chuck" or "Chase."


Many of the authors, who come from around the world, are dyslexia specialists, she says.


Two-thirds of fourth-graders aren't proficient in reading, according to the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report card, says Baigelman. That includes students with learning issues, immigrants who aren't fluent in English and students who "haven't been exposed to the right instruction early on."


Students who struggle with reading fall behind in science, social studies and all their other courses as they move through school, she says. Teachers aren't trained in how to teach upper-elementary, middle- and high-school students who can't read.


My uncle taught reading to Army recruits in Arkansas during World War II, before going off to (almost) invade Japan. They loved the Army's "Cowboy Bob" books.

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7 Comments


Guest
Oct 19, 2023

Is it really a School to Prison pipeline or is it a Single Parent Family to Prison pipeline that happens to run through the schools?


I'm reminded that ambulances don't cause serious car wrecks just because you can usually find them at the scene.

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Guest
Oct 19, 2023

The retired judge in Wales (England) is quite correct, the term in the US is the School to Prison Pipeline (aka SPP) and many students fall into that trap because they think of school as something they are told to do (by parental units who may NOT have any idea how well their child is ACTUALLY doing in school).


An example of this is Baltimore High Schools where not a single student in high school was proficient in math...just WHAT exactly are the future of these students (not a great deal, I'd imagine)...


When I attended high school in the late 70's, we were expected to be in school, pay attention, and have self-discipline (or our parents would handle that…


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lady_lessa
Oct 17, 2023

Would good quality graphic novels and/or anime help? I'm not familiar with anime, but some of the stories seem interesting.

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Guest
Oct 17, 2023

"Middle schoolers who read at the first, second and third-grade level won't read "baby books" and can't read grade-level books, says Louise Baigelman. "


Middle Schoolers who CAN read at lower grade levels can be assigned to help TEACH at that level. And third graders who can read at fifth grade levels -- there are a few -- can be assigned to teach middle schoolers at that level. This was absolutely common, ordinary, expected, and successful in an era of "one room" schools. It's segregation by age that perpetuates this situation, not a lack of literature.


Agreed about "Cowboy Bob".

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Guest
Oct 17, 2023
Replying to

I disagree. No kids should be expected, let alone required, to teach other kids. That’s what teachers (and aides; who didn’t even exist when I was in school) are (supposedly) trained and paid to do and in classes far smaller than was common in my era and in my kids’ era.( My DH had about 100 kids in his Catholic k-8 school: one nun per classroom; period. If a kid freely CHOOSES, to do so; fine - as long as it does not interfere with that kid being taught new material at his appropriate level.

My mother and siblings attended a one-room school and they were not teaching other kids; the teacher was giving them level-appropriate instruction (in my…

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Guest
Oct 17, 2023

This recently retired British Old Bailey (central criminal court) judge makes the point that 50% of those in prisons, at least in England/Wales are functionally illiterate or no more than primary school level in reading.


It you want to disrupt the school to prison pipeline then teaching children how to read is the most important thing you can do. But like how to study, now schools won't teach children how to read since then they might pick up unapproved ideas or something.


JK Brown

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