Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Readicide: Ending Readicide (week 5)

It's the final week of Focused on Fifth's book study, blog hop. If this is your first visit, you can get started here with chapter 1.

If you are an ELA teacher and haven't read Readicide by Kelly Gallagher, I can't recommend it enough. For me it has validated everything I was thinking and feeling about my current ELA instruction. I was trying to be a good teacher.  I was doing what was expected of me and what everyone else was doing. However, I was having a hard time following through. So much of the curriculum seemed pointless and just a bunch of busy work. There wasn't enough substance to the excerpts of novels in our anthology to develop a meaningful conversation. I wasn't sure what I needed to do to change that but I knew what I was doing wasn't working. I was contributing to Readicide.
Now let's take a look at the final chapter of Readicide.

My big take away from this last chapter - high stakes testing and narrow instruction is killing creativity. The can-do/risk taking spirit of Americans is becoming something of the past.

It amazes me with education being so "data driven" these days that we are not looking at countries like Finland (that top the world in math, science and reading) for ways to improve.

"How did the Finns build the best readers in the world? By eliminating standardized testing and emphasizing the importance of reading and critical thinking, by nurturing deeper thinking and creativity, and by leading their students away from the drill-and-kill instructional approach that is currently permeating American schools." Readicide (p.116)

One of the many things I love about this book is that it does not just tell you what is wrong, it gives you legitimate strategies to fix it.

In chapter 5, page 117, Gallagher gives I list of key elements of his 50/50 approach. This is a page I will be referring back to many times during this next year as I begin my personal war against Readicide in my classroom. I have chosen three elements to focus on in the coming school year.

1. Never lose sight that our highest priority is to raise students who become lifelong readers.

2. Understand that recreational reading actually is test preparation. When students read books recreationally they are building valuable knowledge capital that will help them in the future.

3. Recognize that "facts" change. Instead of memorizing them, teachers should spend more time teaching students how to think. Students need to do much more analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

I am excited to have a new focus for the upcoming school year. Reading Readicide is just what I needed to give me the motivation to re-vamp my ELA instruction. I am looking forward to all the possibilities. 

It's been so much fun collaborating with the lovely ladies from Focused on Fifth and getting to know them better through their posts. I'm a little sad that this blog hop is coming to an end but I know there will be lots of collaboration in our future......stay tuned!

Now hop on over to Erin's blog, Learning to be Awesome, and see her final words on Readicide.


  1. I too found the Finland statistics to be quite fascinating! I wrote down a whole page of notes for them!

    Great post!
    The Whimsical Teacher

  2. I love the three reminders you gave yourself for this upcoming school year. I especially like the point made about academic literature. Facts do change...let's not worry about those...I most certainly don't remember half of what I learned in school (whoops!)...but as a student, that used to really stress me out. I always felt inferior and "not as smart" as my friends because of this. However, as an adult, I realize that my analytical thinking and problem solving skills are much more valuable to me. Great post.

    The Organized Plan Book


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