Today is Day 100.
I have written #100 posts in 100 Days.
Some of these posts have shared with my other blog, Used Books in Class, which is my professional education blog. For example, today I have a post on balanced literacy on that blog where I responded to a post on the Thomas Fordham website Why Johnny Won’t Learn to Read where the blogger Robert Pondiscio stated:
“While the Common Core focuses kids’ attention on what the text says, balanced literacy often elicits a personal response to literature.” (Pondiscio)
How is this a problem?
I quite am certain that a personal response in a reader is exactly what any author of literature hopes to achieve.
Reading literature is more than a decoding exercise. Reading literature at any age, especially good complex literature, is an exercise that connects the reader and the author in an intimate bond of empathy.
Balanced literacy does require a student use evidence from a text, but the advantage to balanced literacy is that it recognizes that students cannot be silenced on what they think or feel about their reading, whether the choice of texts is theirs or not.
Pondiscio’s issue with whole language is that it emphasized reading for meaning instead of spelling, grammar, and sounding words out. In making this final part of his argument, Pondiscio reduces words to data or things devoid of meaning.
Such thinking reminds me of a line from Al Pacino’s Looking for Richard, a film study on William Shakespeare’s Richard III.
While filming on the streets of NYC, Pacino is seen asking passers-by what is their relationship to Shakespeare. One pan handler stops long enough to explain how he feels the words in Shakespeare “instruct us”:
If we think words are things and have no feelings in words…then we say things to each other that mean nothing.
But if we felt what we said, we’d say less and mean more.
The pan-handler shuffles off after offering his personal explanation on words and meaning.
Pondiscio claims he wants “students to grapple with challenging texts that are worth reading,” but grappling with what the pan-handler says about the meaning of words in those texts, challenging or not, is even more important.
On this blog, many of my posts have been more personal rather than professional. All of these posts have been a minimum of 100 words.
When I took up the challenge, I did not worry about being able to write 100 words a day. I did worry what to write about. Turns out, that is not as difficult as I thought it would be, either. I wrote about growing up, movies, music, my students, and observations. I made during a day. The biggest problem was trying to upload the graphic or image I wanted to put with the post.
So, yes, in response to this challenge, I can write 100 words a day. If I teach writing, I must also write.