Teachers Helping Teachers

Jan 4, 2012 by

Dr. Shaughnessy is currently Professor in Educational Studies and is a Consulting Editor for Gifted Education International and Educational Psychology Review.

Michael F. Shaughnessy
Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico

Well, the New Year is upon us, and I have decided to do a few things differently this year—one is to try to help teachers–what a concept—that we should use this site to assist teachers…So, here we are with a query from a devoted teacher, who shall remain nameless for now ( we have to be careful of vindictive administrators ) but her sincerity comes through with the following question:

Do you have anyone who may be interested in sharing necessities/thoughts in teaching reading and writing to elementary students so they will be prepared for junior/senior high writing?

Good question. For now, I am going to open this up to all of the teachers out there who are SINCERELY interested in teaching reading and writing to elementary students so that they will be prepared for not just junior and senior high writing, but college writing.

Now my first reaction was a phrase that Jeanne Chall of Harvard University once gave me- ” I wrote book reports in elementary and middle school – and it didn’t kill me.

I think the book report approach can be used at several levels for several grades. Teachers can provide a model or a template and for struggling writers, provide a sample.

Obviously, we have to encourage kids to read, and reflect ( another concept- that they should think about what they have read ) and then write some reaction to the fiction or non-fiction piece that they have read.
Obviously, teachers are going to have to provide some feedback to students- perhaps a comment or a smiley face or something of that nature.

I think that there also needs to be some support from other teachers in this endeavor. Perhaps teachers can share a book, or an idea in the teacher’s lounge.

I have interviewed some really good authors here on this site- I will mention Douglas Richards as one really good writer for struggling readers- but there are many more.

We need to have both fiction as well as non fiction books available. Poems might be good beginning reading sources for some students. Students can also write about some new characters that they have encountered in a book that they have read. ( I recall seeing some advertisement on some t.v. channel–Characters Welcome–I am not clear what that means but there are a lot of interesting characters in children’s books nowadays. )
And there are some books about our Presidents that deserve to be read- I have two on my list- Killing Lincoln and the book by Glenn Beck on George Washington.

And now that the Sherlock Holmes movies are out- I have decided to go back and try to read some of Arthur Conan Doyle’s books.

And imagine that ” Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy ” by John Le Carre has beenmade into a movie. I may go back and read that.

Future interviews with authors may feature some good books by good authors for good students, as well as struggling readers.

I look forward to sharing other teachers ideas, suggestions, guidance and advice. Happy New Year !

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