teach them to read

photo copy 2..
Thought for the day, and week, and month, I suppose, at the rate I’ve been blogging:

If you want children to write, teach them to read. If you want them to read, show them reading is fun. As a kid, I was a bookworm, but it wasn’t until I became a teacher that I realized how much reading had impacted my understanding of the structure of the English language. No one cares about adverbs and subjects and predicates and helping verbs. No 8-year-old wants to break that stuff down. What they want are action and adventure and ideas. What they want are the things of life.

Except for that one student. If you really think “will” + “not” = “willn’t,” we may have a problem . . . Except that, there, the study of grammar failed you, too. You wouldn’t have said “willn’t” in day-to-day speech. You were following a pattern, and “won’t” breaks all the rules.

— Miss Jess


23 thoughts

  1. Miss Jess, I think you would have the talent to make students think creatively and then have fun while learning grammar…which for me was the worst part of school. I know what a noun and verb are and that is about it :-) Nice post, great photo and good to see you enjoying what you are doing! Cheers.

    • Yeah, while some TV shows have their merit, I am not a big fan most of the time. TV is too passive. Writing puts our minds to work — and if it’s a good book, we don’t even know it!

  2. Haha! You’re right. Most kids don’t have interest in nouns and verbs…they might when they get older. I remember when I was seven I felt very bored in class when the teacher explained what grammar was. All I wanted to do was…let the words come out of me instinctively. Didn’t care if my sentences were grammatically correct. Sometimes we have to break the rules and be different to get noticed – and be who we are.

    Very nice to hear that you’re loving teaching, Miss Jess. Hope you’re well and happy :D

    • Thanks, Mabel! I keep thinking I’m going to catch up with all of your posts one of these days, but alas… This week and next I’m teaching another writing camp. That added onto my regular hours will put me at well over 40 hours each week. After an hour commute, that doesn’t leave much time for blogging or relaxing.

      Yeah, the study of grammar has its place. But I still strongly feel that the best foundation for learning to write well is not breaking sentences apart, but seeing how they are put together. Reading (good books) will do wonders for anyone’s writing.

  3. I totally agree. Kind of like exposing kids to sports. Let them try as much as is available and they can choose which they enjoy the most without being pushed by a parent into something they hate so that they parent can live vicariously through the child. Also let them read just for readings sake regardless of content (within reason and responsible censorship of course) so that they may find the pleasure and adventure in the written word. I really couldn’t agree more Miss Jess. I like the way that sounds. Makes me feel like a student again (Ahem don’t laugh) and I could still learn a lot from you my friend.

    • Thanks, John! I totally agree that kids need to be allowed to read “just for fun.” A lot of my students complain that they enjoy the reading part but don’t like answering questions when they are finished. I understand where they are coming from but can only tell them that reading comprehension assessment is part of life… But that is why it *is* so important for kids to pick up books outside of school and read just for fun!

      I like being called Miss Jess, too. I think I’ll go by that even when I am old! Thanks for popping by! Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you!

      • No worries Miss Jess. lol. I am glad life is keeping you busy. Hopefully in good ways.

        BTW I have been riding quite a bit, and a recent knee injury is healed to the point where I can run on it again. Thought that would never happen. Also had a great week in Tahoe week before last. Staring to find fitness again slowly. Perhaps next season will see me competing again. Who knows. As long as I am having fun.

        Be well Jess. Hope to see ya here more often.

      • Thanks so much, John! Unfortunately my own training has just been put on hold with this silly clavicle injury. Soooo frustrating. :/

  4. I teach kids to read by teaching them to create. One of my methods is to do round robin brainstorming and writing. I gave my elementary kids a topic like “superheros”. Then I would have the group create a superhero following a set of rules and filling in a set of leading sentences. The kids would tell me what they wanted to say, I would write it on the board, active board, or paper depending where I was, then we would discuss it as a group as to whether it made sense. That way EVERYONE had ownership. We took turns reading what we wrote and sharing it all. The kids acted out scenes that their superheroes might have done. They drew pictures about them, and made them so real that they planned and talked about them for days. Some even wrote scenes on their own or drew pictures to hang in my room weeks after the project was done.

    • That is a FANTASTIC idea!! Thank you for sharing. I have had my students do free-writes on “If I were a superhero,” but have never done anything quite like that. What a great way to get everyone involved and learning.

      I need to get my teaching credential so I can work in a traditional classroom. It really frustrates me when so many kids complain that they hate reading. I want to make reading fun but face huge constraints at my current job (an after-school learning center), where I only see kids once a week.

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