Carol Sue Harless
Stone Mountain, GA
Modeling Many Literacy Initiatives
My response to how I got started with a focus on a content-based literacy initiative requires a double-layered response. As a former reading specialist and now a media specialist, I view reading as an integral component of the learning process in all content areas. However, in my more than 30 years in education, I have seen many educators who do not teach beyond the text.
As once a reading specialist at the middle school level, I promoted Sustained Silent Reading in my classes and throughout the school building. The program was a great success. I had students who were not registered for my classes wanting to check out the paperback books in my room, as the passed by and saw the array of choices we had there.
I was also known for being a role model for students and faculty, as I always walked around the building with a book under my arm.
Having always looked for ways to "hook" students to reading, I have organized read-a-thons for the students and been the recipient of many "authors in residence" grants. As a grant recipient, I had to find content area teachers who were willing to incorporate reading as part of their course content. I found an English teacher and a history teacher who were willing to go the extra mile.
In our collaboration efforts, we chose visiting authors who would bring to the students a view of reading that would promote student achievement through their novels. Once the authors and novels were chosen, the students analyzed and discussed the novels from both the history and English perspective. Their parents also read the novels and participated in the author visits. This was an enlightening and rewarding experience for the teachers, students and parents.
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