Home' Capricornus Quarterly : March 2012 Contents 8
The more that you read, the more
things you will know. The more that
you learn, the more places you ll go.
If that sounds to you like something
Dr Seuss would say, it s because it is.
The quote, according to RGS English
Teacher Julieanne Harris, is as true
today as when Theodor Seuss Geisel
penned his very rst children s book And
to Think That I Saw It on Mulber ry Street
in 1937 (which, by the way, according
to my three-year-old, is on iTunes).
"Literacy has morphed far beyond
merely reading and writing. Built on
solid foundations of traditional reading
and writing, today it encompasses skills
modern students need in order to
successfully traverse and navigate their
expanding world," says Mrs Harris.
Perhaps that s the reason
why Australians go so many
places -- we read so much.
Bookmarket.com reports Australians are
the highest per capita consumers of
books in the English speaking world. The
OECD s Programme of International
Student Assessment 2009 also places
Australia s reading literacy highly, at
9th in the world, ahead of the United
Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland and the
United States (and behind countries such
as Korea, Finland,
is based on
the results of 15-year-olds -- an age when
many teenagers broaden their thinking
to the abstract and hypothetical; attain
greater perspective, increased empathy
and concern for others; and develop new
interest in local and global societal issues.
It s also about the age when many young
adults become immersed in reading and
when more advanced reading and writing
skills (necessary to succeed in higher
education) begin to emerge. It s a time,
according to the Carnegie Corporation
of New York s Council on Advancing
Adolescent Literacy, when literacy
development and enrichment bridges the
academic and social worlds of students.
As RGS s Julieanne Harris notes,
those 21st-century worlds are
complicated, as literacy encompasses
a range of communicative processes
and digital technologies expand
our ideas about what advanced
reading and writing skills entail.
Technology aside, advanced reading,
writing and comprehension are based on
a strong relationship with vocabulary.
Vocabulary determines how well students
will be able to comprehend the texts
they read. According to the authors of
Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary
Instruction (Isabel L. Beck and others),
which is released this month as an
e-book, middle school students need to
learn 2,000-3,000 new words annually.
Vocabulary expert and writer Professor
E.D. Hirsch concludes that adequate
reading comprehension depends on
a student already knowing between
90% and 95% of the words in a text.
K nowing at least that much enables
a student to get the main idea from
the reading and surmise what many
of the unfamiliar words mean, which
helps him or her learn new words.
In his bestseller, The Knowledge De cit,
Hirsch campaigns for substantially
increased reading pro ciency.
"The key to economic and political
achievement [in the information age]
is the ability to gain new knowledge
rapidly through reading," he says.
In a Literacy Report presented to RGS
staff at the beginning of the year, Mrs
Julieanne Harris stated: "We accept that
young people are wading through masses
of texts and diverse communication
contexts... and they need our help."
The "help" is best demonstrated
by the School s focus on learning
to read in the Primary years and
reading to learn through to Year 12.
"Literacy is viewed as integral to the
entire curriculum, especially at Primary.
It is embraced in all subject areas and
speci c literacy skills are taught daily
in two-hour blocks," says Head of
Primary Geoff Hadwen who personally
evaluates every Year 3-7 student by
having each student read aloud to him.
(Students who would bene t from
additional reading support attend a nine-
week intensive reading program led by
Mr Hadwen and assisted by volunteer
Year 11/12 students and local Rotary Club
Literacy lives in all
that we teach and
all that we do.
Literacy has grown up, writes Mike Donahue
© Dr Seuss Enterprises
Links Archive December 2011 July 2012 Navigation Previous Page Next Page