Wednesday, September 26, 2012

All the time in the world.

"It's not fair, it's just not fair" says Burgess Merideth in the classic Twilight Zone episode  He finally has all the time in the world to read when his ability was taken away. I was thinking today about the work I'm trying to do with students developing higher order thinking skills through their reading work and asking myself what do we really need? The answer that first popped into my mind was time... time enough at last.  I am finding that some students need a lot of coaching in thinking about reading, about paying attention to what they're reading as well as remembering what they have read before.  Some students need a lot of help in developing their reading and thinking stamina but all students need more time.  What is the optimum amount of time? Should students have at least twenty minutes of individual reading time each day? How about a half-hour every day?  Should the reading time happen at one time? What if students had a total of forty-five minutes to an hour every day spread out through the day?  If I'm asking students to push their reading and thinking into big ideas, thesis statements and global concepts, do I need to provide more time for that to happen?  I like to use metaphors related to music so I think about the idea of trying to learn a Bach concerto while only practicing fifteen minutes a day.  Are we asking students to do the same thing by not allowing more time for reading, and by reading I'm talking about literature and not the sort of reading instruction that consists of an article prepared for the text book where students are asked to read and look for helping verbs.  That sort of instruction has it's place in understanding parts of speech, but offers nothing in terms of growing student's thinking skills. I'm not sure what the answer(s) will be but I'm pretty sure we're not in the optimum situation yet and so, will we find time enough at last?

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