Category: Reading


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          NO!                         YES!

School’s back!

And it’s Staff Development time!

Last week I was privileged to take part in an in-service led by Rhonda Filmer. Rhonda is the Principal of Twice Exceptional Educational Consultancy. She is passionate about quality education and, in particular, the needs of students who are both gifted and learning disabled.

We learnt last week, that gifted students can also be affected by the above two learning disabilities and how it is as important to identify and support gifted students with these issues as it is to identify and support the average and below average student.

But first let’s look at some statistics:

The “Report to the Hon Bill Shorten, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services” presented in 2010 by the Dyslexia Working Party has made a distinction between “instructional casualties” and “people with dyslexia”.

There will always be some children who find it hard to read, not all are dyslexic. There are children who need and respond to ‘’systematic and explicit instruction” implemented early in their education – they are the “instructional casualties”. People with dyslexia are those 5-10% who are not helped by this systematic and explicit instruction. They need more support of a different kind. Dyslexia cannot be cured, but people with dyslexia can be assisted to function more comfortably.

Gifted people who have learning disabilities like dyslexia experience even greater frustration than others. They know that their intellectual capacity is greater than they are able to express in reading and writing.

We, as teachers, know it too. We see those students who make the mental leap, who easily make connections. Often they dominate class discussions with insightful comments and additions others have not thought of. But, in time, many of them lose confidence in themselves. They start doubting that they really are as clever as they are. And they clam up…or get noisier…or are happy to accept average marks, when really their intellectual capacity is greater.

It must be exhausting trying to keep up, trying to read, struggling to write. One gifted child said to me one day, “It’s hard to write. I have the words I want to say, but I don’t know how to write them, so I have to find easier words that I can spell.” She can’t get on paper the great ideas she has because she has dyslexia. She has to compromise. We don’t always recognise the giftedness in these children, especially in the quiet ones and the ones that are willing to compromise just to get the work done.

If 5-10% of the population have dyslexia that means you probably have at least one student in your class who is dyslexic, and maybe has ADHD and is gifted as well. Do you know who it is? And what you can do to help?

Hours of Fun Playing Skylanders Spyro's Adventure

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There’s an XBox 360 in my living room connected to my TV.

So what? As of this January, 66 million XBox360s have been sold worldwide. There must be millions of living rooms with XBox 360s connected to their TVs. And maybe millions more with Playstations and Nintendo Wiis, not to mention handheld games, like DS’s, etc., etc., and so on.

But maybe it is a little unusual for a retired school teacher, a grandmother of eight and a lover of reading to be one of the millions.

For years I have seen my children and grandchildren playing video games and especially role playing games( RPGs). The latest to visit my lounge room, Skylanders, an RPG with toys, has fascinated all from my three year old grandson to my eldest son.

When my children were still in primary school we bought a VIC 20. With only 5kb of RAM it was one of the first little home computers you could buy. Incidentally, ours was one of a million sold. From then my boys were hooked.

Computers are very important in their adult lives both at work and, at home , where they play games.

Reading is also a very important part of their lives.

Every book and author I come across and suggest to my eldest son has already been read by him. My second son reads and re-reads fantasy novels. And my youngest son will read just about anything. They all like fantasy, and sci-fi.

And it’s not just my boys, many gamers are also avid readers.

So what came first, reading or gaming and is there a connection?

From the little research I have done on this subject, there does seem to be a connection between gaming and the genre of novels being read. Most RPGs are fantasy or sci-fi based. Playing the game allows the fantasy or sci-fi reader to extend the experience of getting lost in a good book, to becoming part of a story. So it may be that reading fantasy and sci-fi gets readers into playing.

As a teacher, I see many students eager to develop their reading skills so that they can begin borrowing books such as those in the Beast Quest series. There is a huge variety of fantasy and quest novels for young readers and they are often connected to something else, like cards and online extensions and additions to the stories. Scholastic’s “39 Clues”, for example.

Great reads, such as Lewis’s Narnia series,  Rowling’s Harry Potter, Tolkein’s The Hobbit, Paolini’s Eragon, Garth Nix‘s The Keys to the Kingdom, etc., encourage the excitement of the quest and heroes. Something the reader can live through vicariously. RPGs then give these readers the chance to live them out, to problem solve, to be the hero, to make their own story.

So, can video and/or role-playing games get players into reading? I certainly think there is much more to be said and debated on this topic. What type of people play RPGs?

What do you think?

And the winner is … Reading!


If you could teach only one skill to the students in your class, what would it be? The answers to this question asked by eSN Today led to an article last August, that listed the ten skills educators considered to be the most important.

And, probably unsurprisingly, at least to me, number one on the list was reading. What was surprising to me was that there were other skills people consider to be more important than reading! Check out the above link to see what other skills are on the list.

Now while I agree that reading is the most important skill of those listed, what I think is even more important and what I would wish for each of my students is that they develop a LOVE of reading.

The SKILL of reading is necessary for success in just about every subject area. Proficiency in reading leads to proficiency in spelling, a solid understanding of grammar and language, well developed comprehension, increased vocabulary and improved writing skills. It is a foundation to good literacy skills. It is a means of developing a wide general knowledge.

The LOVE of reading can give all that and much more.

  • Lovers of reading enjoy the comfortableness of curling up with a good book on a rainy day (or cloudy, cold, sunny…well, any day really).
  • They can escape from the craziness of the world around them and dive into another world created by someone else.  It is the ultimate form of escapism.
  • Fiction lovers meet new characters who they may love or hate, and many become friends that they want to know better.
  • They can use their own imaginations to create pictures of the characters and settings (…how many times have you seen a movie of a book only to come away knowing it was not the way you imagined it to be and therefore it was all wrong?)
  • They get excited when the next book in a series or the next book by a favourite author is released.
  • They can explore new worlds from the comfort of an armchair.
  • Non fiction lovers delight in learning more about the real world, its mysteries and beauty.
  • They can choose what, where and when to learn/read and pursue their own interests.

I know this list is incomplete. What do you think?

Are you a lover of reading? What would you add to the list?

Or maybe you would consider another skill more important to be on the top ten list. Let me know.

(Incidentally, I don’t necessarily think a reader needs to be highly skilled in reading to be a lover of reading…but more of that in a later post.)