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State Support Team, Region 16

Who’s Doing the Work? Early Literacy Book Study – 2019-2020 School Year

Kimberly Miller - 4/23/2019 3:24:00 PM

I want to tempt you to join, SST16’s literacy book study next year. The book, Who’s Doing the Work? How to Say Less so Readers Can Do More by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris describes the importance of helping students develop into agentive readers.  Good teachers use instructional scaffolds all the time. They do so by directly and explicitly teaching students reading skills and strategies.  They also model the skills for students, do the skills alongside of their students and allow students to try the skills independently.  With those instructional scaffolds in mind, Joan Moser in the foreword of the book, alerts us to an essential but simple question we, as teachers, should be asking our students as we teach them to read, “What could you try?” 

Agentive readers develop as teachers move their attention away from what they need to do, over to what students should be doing on their own.  When students use both print and meaning to figure out the tricky parts of text; they read in a smooth, balanced, and integrated manner.  Teachers need to instruct students to utilize both the printed text and the meaning of the words, so they can comprehend the text.  

The book, further explains how traditional scaffolding practices can actually rob students of important learning opportunities and independence.  Students who are robbed of these important learning opportunities become over dependent on teachers as permanent scaffolds and they learn helplessness.  Many students develop reading habits that can cause them to plateau or make them become inefficient readers.   Many times students become “unbalanced” in the reading process and overly rely on the print or overly rely on the meaning.

Through the teaching pillars of read-alouds, shared reading, guided reading, and independent reading, the authors examine adjusted reading instruction and how teachers should teach students to do more of the work.  One of the most important takeaways from the book is that the authors stress the importance of developing students as readers with the “end” goal in mind; that is, students who feel empowered and motivated to take charge of their reading lives.  

So join us next year from September to March (one face-to-face) meeting and 3 on-line meetings) as we read this book on the next generation of reading instruction.  Who’s Doing the Work?  recommends ways to increase independence in reading for students by helping them apply strategies they’ve been taught. Teachers who read this book, will walk away with the future goal for students. Additionally, teachers will reframe interactions with difficult texts and assist students to see these texts as an opportunity to practice the messy work of figuring out what to do and when to do it.