Alliterate – choosing not to read and write …
There are those who hold that students no longer have the same literacy skills which their parents were expected to develop as students. Indeed, the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test was developed to ensure that students were ‘literate’. An entire industry has developed, created and sold literacy support materials to remediate students’ weak literacy skills. The presupposition grounding these beliefs and actions is that the educational system is graduating students who are ‘illiterate’.
However, students who are often labelled as ‘illiterate’ are really ‘alliterate’. To be alliterate means that someone can read and write and that they choose not to do that. When teachers consider the kinds of readings their students are expected to complete in the courses which they take, they can understand that some of students chose not to engage with the required texts. The material is often dry, boring, and of no authentic interest to the reader who opts out of the process through disinterest.
The materials developed in Are They Illiterate or Alliterate? were developed over the course of my career as an English teacher and as Literacy Facilitator for the school in which I taught. As I worked with students who had difficulty or disinterest in reading course materials, I considered how I could help them. I read a great deal, attended workshops and took courses and remembered the issues I had had when I was beginning to read more complex texts. What strategies had I taught myself to deal with my issues when I had difficulty negotiating with text?
In Are They Illiterate or Alliterate?, teachers can understand:
- What reading involves.
- The characteristics of effective readers and their reading strategies.
- What successful content-area reading entails.
- How to use reading as a framework for lesson and unit planning.
- How to use textbooks effectively.
- How to create a balanced reading environment.
As well, teachers will find the following resources:
- Textbook feature analysis sheet.
- Student reading questionnaire.
- Several text graphic organizers.
- Reading vocabulary UFO sheet for unfamiliar words.
- Subject specific literacy reference websites.