Do Now: The big question that is on educators’ minds is:
Do teens still read?
Read the following article and respond to the following questions:
There’s no question that most of our children are learning to read, but as they get older, are they then “reading to learn”?
The numbers paint a dismal picture. American fourth graders score near the top in international comparisons of reading skills, but by the time they reach eleventh grade, they lag behind not only their counterparts in industrialized nations, but also those in much of the developing world as well, including Brazil, Indonesia and the Philippines, according to a landmark 2002 RAND Corporation study of adolescent literacy.
A 2003 Department of Education assessment found that 25% of students entering ninth grade read at “below basic” levels, unable to understand newspapers, news magazines or their own textbooks.
Frustrated, many will leave school. Poor literacy is the number-one risk indicator for dropping out. Across the country, nearly 30% of eighth graders will drop out before finishing high school (in some urban areas, the numbers range as high as 50%.
Leaving teens behind
“Around fifth or sixth grade, reading becomes no fun anymore, ” says Jensen. It’s no longer about reading stories and talking them through. “All of a sudden, they’re thrown into six different classes and carry huge, 25-pound textbooks with chapters, main ideas and summaries. It’s a completely different world.”
A world where the good readers have mastered different strategies for approaching different types of writing, such as a science textbook, a primary historical source or an argumentative essay in social studies. They’re the ones asking relevant questions in class, while less-skilled readers sit quietly in the back row. It’s not that they can’t decode the words, most can even read aloud when asked. But comprehending the material, or analyzing or interpreting it, is another story altogether.
“[Struggling] students often bring the idea of what reading is from the way they were taught in early grades: you say the words, say them together, get to the end, and you’re done. It’s more about pronouncing words correctly than actively understanding. In later grades, not actively understanding is a danger and an academic liability,” says Ruth Schoenbach, co-director of WestEd.
While not intuitive to all students, the necessary skills can be taught. “Teachers we work with are helping students realize that reading well is not magic,” says Schoenbach. “It takes effort and supported practice in a classroom community where students and the teacher are talking about reading and how to solve different kinds of comprehension problems.”
“It’s an effort, and we can develop strategies and awareness and learn from each other how to read in different ways,” says Schoenbach.
Post your answers to the questions below in the comment section.
1) What is your opinion about why teens are not reading?
2) Think about the advances in technology, in what new ways are teens reading?