By Adjunct Professor, Venette Voundy
Many ask the question, what are the joys of taking a reading course? When considering taking a reading course, the first thing that comes to mind with educators is, “Another class where the instructor is going to force me to find ways to assist in teaching reading in my area of expertise.”
Educators become frustrated, fear or just do not understand why it is necessary to take the state required courses. These feelings are valid, especially if you have taught at the secondary level and know more of your content than focusing on reading instruction. Over the past several years, reading has taken on a negative connotation due to standardized tests. Common Core is now adding to the equation because the standards are embedded in all subject areas. All teachers are being asked to teach reading instruction/strategies and embed these skills in the content areas. This, in a sense, will build students’ reading abilities in the areas of reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
At the primary level, the emphasis is on all the areas of reading instruction. These teachers begin the reading process of understanding phonemic awareness and phonics which builds into fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. At the secondary level, teachers emphasize vocabulary and comprehension instruction which aids in expanding the reading process. Therefore, reading instruction plays a vital role in all levels of education. It’s essential that teachers have the tools and resources when implementing the complex task of teaching reading. The courses that are required for recertification are the keys to finding those tools and resources that aid educators in building student understanding in reading.
The Continuing Education reading courses are designed for educators to form an understanding of the reading process, learn new and innovative strategies that assist students in making meaning of information and/or evaluate effective methods of assessing reading instruction at all grade levels. The information presented allows teachers to see the practical connection to what they are doing in their classroom to what they are learning in the courses. The joys occur when the light bulb goes off and the educator realizes that they have taught reading within their content. For example, a science teacher learns about the reading strategy think-pair-share and realizes that this is a task that he/she does with students when reading text. The feeling of knowing that you are incorporating strategies to assist students in comprehending information is encouraging. Also, they are able to identify interesting strategies and assessments to take back to the classroom as a result of seeing the connection to what they are teaching.
As educators, at all grade levels, reading is a part of our daily lives. It’s important that we teach our students the skills and strategies that will assist and enhance their understanding of their world in which they live. The Continuing Education reading courses give life and joy to our understanding of reading and the essential strategies needed to teach our students how to engage in the process of reading.