When the question of improving reading scores comes up in a district-wide conversation, I typically rely on my Reading Recovery training from almost 20 years ago to guide my thoughts. I was taught that we don't take reading for a ride without taking writing along as well. Without both, breaking the code can be a haphazard one. They each deserve the place of highest regard in the classroom and lives of our literacy club members.
So I find myself asking, What kind of writing instruction do our youngest literacy members receive? Is it possible that the answer to fixing some of our reading issues can be found within the context of writing?
I believe these are valid questions and ones that Richard Gentry, among others, has spent a considerable amount of energy and thought exploring. Below are a few of my favorite thoughts of his on this topic from Breaking the Code.
Kindergarten writing is a means for ensuring reading success.
Working with beginning writers is like fixing the drainpipe under the sink and all of a sudden the dishwasher works because, like the sink and the dishwasher, reading and writing are hooked up to the same system.
We must look at both reading and writing. When we leave writing out, we only tell half the story. If we don’t look at both, we are destined to make mistakes.
Writing in kindergarten is the secret to the reading-writing connection and the solution to successful beginning reading instruction in today’s schools.
Early writing not only complements the reading program, it ensures early reading success.
Early intervention is not an option, it is a necessity.
I've long been on a mission to improve writing instruction in the classroom, but my purpose reaches well beyond the obvious objectives of improving the craft of writing and the thinking it involves. I also believe in writing's tangible affect on reading. If our youngest learners are struggling to understand the reading process, let's put some resources and time into how they're learning to write. It might be just what they need in order to break the code.
P.S. Thanks for reading this even though it's not Saturday. I haven't posted many Saturday Sayings lately, and I was simply in the mood.