Let’s Cure Readicide!

September 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Educational Resources, Reviews

Over the summer, I was inspired and awakened after reading Kelly Gallagher’s ReadicideHow Schools are Killing Readers and What You Can Do About It.  Kelly Gallagher is a high school English teacher in Anaheim, CA whose theories I’ve been advocating and utilizing for a few years.  Four years ago, I designed our school’s sophomore reading strategies classes based on his philosophies in  Deeper Reading: Comprehending Challenging Texts, and Teaching Adolescent Writers afforded me new creative opportunities with my senior expository writing students.  

an excellent resource

Readicide talks about the “mind-numbing” practices in our schools that turn students off to reading such as the overuse of study guides and paragraph-by-paragraph overanalysis of literature.  He illustrates data-based research to show just how drastically reading is dying before offering specific strategies to curb this epidemic.  It’s a quick read – it took me all of two hours to sweep through.  For those that haven’t read it, GG highly recommends it!

During our department meeting today, we viewed the 20 minute DVD Gallagher produced that depicts his guidance with the Article of the Week (AoW).  AoW is one of the practices he advocates to curb ‘readicide.’  He points out that while his 9th grade English students could analyze characters in Lord of the Flies, they didn’t know how to discern Al Quaeda from Al Gore nor could they identify the current Vice President of the United States.  This brings up a great point – most students don’t read outside of the classroom; most students are current-event-illiterate.  AoW combats that.  It involves sharing a current events article (i.e. Business Week, Wall Street Journal, etc) with the class at the beginning of the week and then asking them to turn in a response along with evidence of active reading at the end of the week. 

Gallagher graciously shares all articles he used last year for his 9th and 10th grade English classes along with his current collection he is beginning this year.  He shares them on his website, kellygallagher.org.  He asserts that AoW is now practiced in every single English classroom at his school; consequently, students leave the building at the end of the year having read approximately 140 pertinent articles they would otherwise have not been exposed to.

I am definitely incorporating AoWs into my reading classes as well are many of my colleagues.  I am using some of Gallagher’s articles along with my own.  Grading Girl gives Readicide an A+ for eye-opening data, researched reasonings, and practical strategies that assist teachers with helping students gain back an interest in reading and, thus, an interest in life.

  • Winsor Pilates


3 Responses to “Let’s Cure Readicide!”
  1. Traci says:

    I am doing AoWs with my students. My only question is, how do you grade your AoWs? I am not sure how to grade them. If you have any suggestions, please let me know ASAP! Thanks.

    • GradingGirl says:

      Hi Traci,

      I currently do AoWs with my sophomore reading strategies students. They receive up to 20 points once a week for the following:

      _____/10 for highlighting, annotations (not too many haphazard highlighting vs. purposeful impt. facts marked, annotations that prove engaged reading, etc)
      _____/10 for summary statement, response to question (complete sentence, covers author’s purpose, etc)

      I model the very first AoW with them as a class. We’ll read it aloud, I’ll annotate and highlight (I scan the article into my tablet computer, project it, and highlight/annotate it as they follow along on the screen). This first AoW makes for a wonderful lesson on highlighting important points and annotations. I have a poster in the room on annotation marks they can refer to later on.

      As the weeks progress, we’ll have mini-lessons on finding the main idea, summary statements, evaluating the author’s purpose, etc. These tie-in nicely with the weekly articles. I hope this helps!

  2. Traci says:

    Thanks for your help. I have such an extreme when I look at my first week of AOWs. Some kids just highlight the main ideas and make no comments while others highlight and annotate like crazy! You have maybe graded so many that you know what a 10 out of 10 looks like or 8 out of 10 etc.

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