What is a journey of endurance?

March 6th, 2010
Edwin Bartunek
Developer and Educator

Edwin Bartunek

Another pot of coffee brewing at 6 in the morning to make up for the night before, studying, planning, and researching until 1 in the morning. Black jolting liquid is my savior. The shower slightly wakes me up, but the drive to the local high school yields much more. I am in the midst of a project for a class that demonstrates I can help a student with reading.

So I revisit my first topic of this blog (slightly ironic now, isn’t it.) What is a journey of endurance? As I look at the progress of where I’ve come with my undergraduate degree, I see the answer to this question much more clearly. This is the second time I’ve done a project on reading: the first was an assessment of my personal reading strategies; the second, in progress, is an application of these skills and stratagems for a student. Reading is dense; reading is complex; reading is… fascinating.

What do we do when we read? As an English major, sometimes it is hard to describe the process of reading; When one is good at it, the more subconscious the act becomes, and therefore hard to explain. Well to explain these processes, here is a list of traits from a “dependent reader” (a reader who has not deduced the acts required for reading, relying on the teacher to help with comprehension.) This list has been adapted from Kylene Beers’ research in her book titled When Kids Can’t Read: What Teachers Can Do. 1

Dependent readers

  • Struggle recognizing both single-syllable words, and multisyllable words (decoding text)
  • has little to no strategies of what to do when words are unknown
  • does not use context in the text to figure out an unknown word
  • does not use knowledge of word parts to figure out unknown words (i.e. vivacious; viva, long live + cious, adjectival modifier = being lively in manner; animated)
  • reads slowly, and loses the meaning of the text
  • focuses on the act of decoding without emphasis on comprehending the passages
  • reads too fast or slow, ignoring punctuation
  • does not predict what will happen or ask questions about the text
  • reads to finish, not to understand
  • cannot develop questions about the text
  • does not understand how literary terms are used in the text
  • Think good readers are born that way and reading is unteachable.

This is but a few of the traits of a “dependent reader.” Did I know I was doing this when I read? Not a chance! When I was younger, I merely read things and either understood or gave up. I had no stratagems to attack the material I was reading. Well this is what I mean by a journey of endurance. Taking a path that is hard and difficult in order to become better at something. As I conduct this second project in reading, I see a lot of traits from my childhood in the student I am working with. Now is his journey, I can only show him the path.

1 Beers, G. Kylene. When Kids Can’t Read, What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003

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