Friday, April 12, 2013

Week #3: Book report

So I finally finished reading Teaching Students to Read Through Their Individual Learning Styles. It was a very interesting book! I learned a lot about why public schools do or don't do certain things, why some kids are successful in public school and why some aren't. I recognized many of the learning style patterns in myself and family members.

The authors divided learning style elements into five categories: environmental, emotional, sociological, physical and psychological. The elements are sound, light, temperature, design (formal or informal); motivation, persistence, responsibility and structure; learning with peers, alone, in pairs, in groups or with an authority figure; perceptual, intake, time and mobility; analytic/global, cerebral preference and reflective/impulsive.

The book identified several reading methods and explained how they complimented what learning style. The authors believe that perceptual strengths and global/analytic ways of thinking are the most important things to consider when selecting reading methods. It mentioned that most kids are global rather than analytic, and that at the age when kids usually learn to read their perceptual strengths are mostly tactile and kinesthetic. Good visual and auditory skills usually develop later.

The authors say that phonics are not a good match for most youngsters because it analytic and for auditory learners. I can see that, as in a public school setting where everyone must learn at the same rate, how that could be a problem. But I honestly believe that phonics and decoding types of reading methods are very important because of the skills you learn.

I am very strongly a visual learner, and I learned to read with phonics. Although I learned to read mostly by memorizing the things my mom taught me, I remembered the principles I was taught and later, it really made a difference for me. I have three siblings that are very tactile and kinesthetic. Two of them learned to read at seven years old, and one learned to read at nine. They all learned with phonics. They're all good readers. One brother recently graduated with his associates in the top 5% of his class from a prestigious school.

In a public school setting, that couldn't happen. Everyone has to learn the same things at the same rate, or they're "behind." That sounds negative. But it shouldn't be. In our society where tolerance is so important, why don't we let people learn how and when they need to?

I loved some of the ideas that the book described to teach reading. I really liked the learning circles, task cards and pic-a-holes. The electroboards are cool, but I wouldn't use them all the time. The book also described how to make programmed learning sequences (which, with current technology, I would make with PowerPoint instead of 3x5 cards), contract activity packages and multisensory instructional packages. The CAPs are really cool because they match most learning styles, can be done independently and encourage motivation, persistence and responsibility.

Overall, I learned a ton about people and learning from reading this book. And it's inspired me to to make a CAP for my personal application project in a few weeks.

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