Identifying Dependent Readers
As I was reading Chapter 2, I found myself nodding at the differentiation between independent readers and dependent readers. But here's the difficulty with that differentiation in my sixth graders. In Beers' examples, the kids she labels as "dependent readers" are all "Georges." She shows students who lack ALL the 3 forms of confidence (cognitive, social and emotional, and text), and who say things like "I don't get it," or "I can't read that." What I find most difficult in my sixth graders is that they HAVE text confidence (to choose books) and the Social and Emotional confidence (they are willing participants, etc), but they fly through a book without the cognitive confidence. In that sense, they are dependent readers: they fit into the category of "read on through when text gets tough." By sixth grade, they have learned for FAKE IT really well. They don't self-identify as struggling readers. So, being an ELL resource teacher who only sees them for 40 minutes each day, I find it takes me a LONG time to identify my dependent readers, which becomes a lot of lost teachable moments. I know who the kids in CRISIS are, but I feel (fear) that there are many who are just barely getting by, and we aren't as good at identifying their needs. Does this resonate with anyone else's experience?
Erica-- I face similar situation with my 7-8th grade ELLs. The more I carefully structure successfully reading experiences, the more they feel that they can get more out of reading. I have "book clubs"-- really they're literature circles -- that the kids get to pick their titles and somethings their groups. By working together through the text, they seem to get more of the books.
I often point out what I'm thinking as I read the books to show them that there is more to reading than skimming through the letters on the page. Because they don't read for pleasure, they often haven't made it to this level as a reader. With time, hopefully they will see the bigger picture of what reading means so they aren't so dependent on us as teachers. But as a middle school teacher, I won't often see the end results. I hope I've given them enough opportunities to use their skills in the future to graduate.