Sunday, October 21, 2012

Research Process Marches On

Throughout this month, I have continued to seek journal articles and books related to my research topic.  My favorite sources have been books such as the previously mentioned Readicide and The Book Whisperer.  To this esteemed list, I must add Stephen Krashen's The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research (2005).  (Referenced in my October 1 post).  Krashen's work is valuable to my project precisely because he is using research to back up the importance of reading.  This title and the comprehensive references and bibliography are pointing me to resources directly related to my topic.  Thank you Stephen Krashen!

The focus of my research project is shifting slightly from evaluating reading programs to identifying the specific elements that lead one student to become an avid reader while other students do not like to read at all.  Schools direct so much time, attention, and direct instruction to teaching reading.  Yet, they are failing to inspire a love of reading in today's students.  While I realize that home environment plays a large role in creating avid readers, schools cannot use the absence of parental reading role models as an excuse for churning out non-readers.  We have to show students that reading is enjoyable, pleasurable, and a ready source of entertainment.  Reading instruction is so important, but at some point we have to turn students loose to discover their favorite books and authors.  Providing a wide range of reading material that is of interest to students, allowing free choice of materials, and providing a time and place for students to read are essential. 

I was initially leaning towards a large-scale study that would follow two groups of students through several years of grade school as a means to measure and analyze the students development and achievement in regards to reading.  From the study results, I hoped to be able to focus attention on what does and does not work in encouraging students to love reading.  This type of study is feasible for a large research facility, but is somewhat unrealistic for a lone researcher to undertake.  As an alternative, Dr. Solomon suggested using case studies.  To find subjects for my case study, I plan to conduct reading interest surveys to groups of 2nd and 6th graders.  I will use the survey results to identify two types of students in each grade level:  avid readers and non-readers.  The initial survey will help narrow down a large group of students and identify potential case study participants.  Once I identify enough subjects in each category and grade level, I would then proceed with much more  detailed surveys, observations of each child, and subject interviews.  The idea is to use the case studies to identify certain patterns or commonalities that could possibly be important in the developments of both readers and non-readers.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Worlds Colliding

Increasingly this semester, my graduate coursework is beginning to overlap in terms of subject matter and relevance.  This week the lecture and readings for SLIS 742 are all focused on the school librarian's role in promoting reading and "alternatives to readicide" which is, of course, the subject of my research for 705 and the main topic of this blog.  I feel like this is an episode of Seinfeld, except, unlike George, I welcome the collision of "worlds" and am excited to learn of more resources, research, and reading leaders that can guide me on my path.

I came away from the lecture and readings more convinced than ever that school librarians must be advocates for students and do all we can to help each reader find "their" book.  School librarians must speak out and promote positive reading programs and practices rather than watch silently while students' personal reading preferences are brushed aside.  Silence is a formula for killing the love of reading, not encouraging, fostering, inspiring it.  

Added to my reading list:  The Power of Reading and Free Voluntary Reading both by Stephen Krashen.