Readicide Blog Hop - Chapter 1

To kick off this summer, Focused on Fifth, a new group of 5th grade teachers and bloggers, are beginning the summer with our very first collaboration.  We are joining together for a book study blog hop.  Wahoo!  For the next 5 consecutive Tuesday evenings, we will be discussing Readicide by Kelly Gallagher.  I have had my eye on this one for a little while now, and I am ready to dive into these discussions! So, without further adieu, let's get going...

Let's first take a look at Kelly Gallagher's definition of "readicide". 

Chapter 1 discusses some of the contributing factors that are causing readicide to occur.  In addition to the popular contributors we are aware of, such as "poverty, lack of parental education, print-poor environments at home, second language issues, the era of the hurried child, and other...entertainment options", there is a white elephant in the room that needs to be addressed (pg. 4).  The overemphasis on testing has become a major contributing factor in killing American readers.  Gallagher highlights two reasons this is occurring.

Gallagher points out that curriculum is being overcrowded with standards, and as a result, teachers feel pressured to "get through" teaching all of the curriculum by the time testing dates roll around.  Teachers are forced to "skim the surface" of content rather than allow time to delve into the curriculum.  As a result, students' exposure to leisure books, independent reading time, and deep engagement with text essentially disappears.  Gallagher argues that we need to slow down our teaching and create more time to reflect.  With our current format, students' only reading experiences become academic, with a central focus on shorter reading passages and questioning geared toward multiple choice formats.

Unfortunately, when teachers are gearing their lessons solely around standardized, multiple choice testing formats, our students are not producing a deeper level of thinking.  Gallagher argues that teaching to a test is not the problem.  In fact, test-taking requires essential skills students will need to become productive, critical thinkers in society. However, unlike multiple choice testing, tests should prompt students to synthesize, analyze, and organize their thoughts.  

Another key point Gallagher mentions is that our students who are struggling the most, are put into remedial classes that further emphasize a skill-and-drill curriculum.  As a result, students' frustration levels rise, while their interest in reading continues to diminish. 
To put our students on the correct path toward becoming lifelong readers and writers, we need to set into motion strategies that will end readicide.  Gallagher states that all key players must be involved including administration, teachers, therapists, parents, and students. The first step is having a "hard talk" about what is happening to the young readers in our schools.  To facilitate this hard talk, Gallagher creates a list of questions that you can use to get the ball in motion.  Here are just some of the key questions that stood out to me:

This list has really gotten my wheels spinning and has forced me to analyze how my classroom has been run for the past few years.  I am questioning some of the strategies I have implemented...and have already come up with a list of things that need to be changed.  To get the complete version of Gallagher's Hard Talk Checklist, purchase his book here.

To check out what some of the other 5th grade teachers are saying about this book, continue on through the blog hop!  You can also view the upcoming schedule for this hop below.  Next up is Kim from Quintessential Lessons.  Visit her blog by clicking her button below.

Happy Hopping!

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  1. Sometimes we all need a reminder to re-examine our classroom practices. This book is definitely making me take another look at my teaching. Great post.
    The Research Based Classroom

    1. Thanks, Brandi. I agree, I am happy we chose this reading.

  2. I love how you created so many pinnable graphics in this blog!! In the hard talk questions, number 3 stood out to me, (are the same kids ending up in the remedial classes?) as I know that in my district our ELL's are always trying to catch up in reading and it seems like most of them never quite make it out of that remedial group. I know in 5th grade, it's super difficult to get my ELL's to read for recreation. I try to give them a lot of magazine choices and books with graphics as that seems to fuel their interest a little more.

    Great blog! Thanks!

    1. I completely agree. The older students become, the more challenging it is to get their love of reading back. It sounds like you are really trying to find reading materials that will match with their interests. I can relate to your struggle. This year I did a lot of read alouds with the students, which were all centered around themes they could relate with (self-esteem issues, peer pressure, coming of age, etc.). The students really got excited about reading and that was such a rewarding experience. I highly recommend Wonder, Absolutely Almost, and Fish in a Tree. All fabulous books for this age group.

  3. I had a parent this year ask me for just one thing during report card conferences - Help my child love reading again? I don't know what was worse, the fact that he "hated" reading or the fact that at one time he didn't. It was just another example of how high-stakes testing is crushing children's love of learning. I was thankful that this parent shared this with me. It forced me to take a good look at my teaching and try to incorporate more time for students to read and to share books they love with one another. We started to have informal "book talks" during snack time. By the end of the year students were sharing and recommending books to one another without prompting. I can't wait to send them all off on summer vacation with a novel.

    Quinnessential Lessons

    1. Unfortunately, your story is not uncommon. I love book talks. Reading in the Wild helped influence a couple of initiatives, such as book talks, in my classroom this year. We also kept reading status logs. The students started getting competitive with these, wanting to log more and more details about their readings each day. It is awesome to see them start to share without prompting...sounds like you are doing an awesome job.

  4. It's so great that all of us have different take away moments from this book! Makes me think about what I can do differently in my class next term. I'll be thinking over winter break on how I can improve my teaching and the processes I put in place in my class.

    Learning to be awesome


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