In Australia many parents are going through the process of choosing High Schools for their children, so this has been a hot topic for many of us. Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, one of the concerns of some parents is how their child who is a reluctant reader will fare with the increased reading requirements as their children step up a level. They worry that if their child has not developed reasonable comprehension and vocabulary levels they will struggle in their new learning environment.
I have written before on strategies for turning reluctant readers into readers, and not surprisingly when I started to research this subject I found many more sites giving advice on what books will get teenagers motivated, and more of the same sort of information about how to develop reading skills altered for an older age group. The only one I have shared with this blog is one from Random House which I found really interesting to read, and I hope you do too, and it covers most of the strategies of other sites.
While searching for information for this blog I was actually quite disappointed because I could not find anything new to pass on the my readers. Then I stumbled across and article that really made me think and question some of my ideals. The article talked about technology tools to help children who struggle with reading get through high school. I though it would be about reading eggs and comprehension tools, but it was not. It was about dictation software, thesaurus software to decode complex texts and text to word software. My first reaction while I was reading was amazement. Although I advocate listening to stories as a way of developing comprehension, the though of listening to text books so you can learn seemed almost like cheating to me. And an app to take technical or advanced language and turn it into plain English, well really that is cheating isn’t it?
What really got me thinking though was the dictation software for children who have difficulty writing. At the moment I am working with my son to improve his writing because, well, no one could read it. We are going to occupational therapy to help with some physical issues that prevent him from get words on paper, although when you put him in front of a keyboard that changes. So is a keyboard cheating? When I spoke to him to ask if he would use dictation software he thought for a while, then said he would prefer to write or use a keyboard, but if he could not get what he wanted to say out, yes he would use dictation tools because after all it about getting out what is in your head.
Out of the mouths of babes (although he really is a little old to be called a baby). Unfortunately I have not been able to find the exact article again to share with you because I closed it down before thinking through the new concepts. But once I did start thinking, I questioned my views on what is education is really about. It is about teaching new concepts and ideas and checking that people understand those new concepts and ideas. In the distant past, before we could all read and write, this was all done verbally. In fact the great teachers in Greece only taught through debate. So is it wrong if we now learn thought listening? Is it wrong of we show we understand that learning through speaking? We now live in a society where learning is accelerated, and children are asked to understand concepts we would not learn until university. While we are changing our views of what can be learnt when, maybe we can also adjust our views of the how we learn as well.
I have put a link to one article below (not the original article, but another I found to be interesting), but why not do a search for articles on assistive technology and think about how that might help your reluctant reader get through high school?