Literacy Lines

The Keys to Literacy Blog

I Should Have Written That!

by Becky DeSmith | 1 | 1 Comment

For the third time in my life, I have read a book and immediately said, “I should have written that!”  Has that ever happened to you?  I mean, really, “ THAT book is my life!”

The first time it happened was with Frank Smith’s, Insult to Intelligence:  the Bureaucratic Invasion of our Classrooms, published in 1986.  Smith promotes alternatives to “drill –and-kill” instruction where, “children are learning that reading and writing are ‘school activities,’ punitive, pointless and boring, not to be engaged in unless teachers require them.”   He promotes “literacy clubs,” where …”there is never a formal, tedious, and meaningless period of instruction; no one ever gives a struggling beginner a low score; differences in interest and ability are expected.”  He was describing MY classroom!  I should have written that book.

The next time was with, Kelly Gallagher’s, Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It (2009).   Mr. Gallagher describes how reading is declining in this country and how schools are actually contributing to this decline.  He presents specific steps to teachers, coaches and administrators of how to begin to reverse this spiral…and many of his suggestions were taking place right in MY classroom.  I should have written that book.

And now it is the book that Amazon.com delivered to my door last week – Reading Reconsidered: A Practical Guide to Rigorous Literacy Instruction, by Doug Lemov, Colleen Driggs and Erica Woolway (2016).  These three writers reveal the work of real-life educators who take us into the trenches to describe best practices in literacy instruction.  Since I am doing a vocabulary workshop this week, I started with chapter six on vocabulary instruction.  And once again, I am affirmed. Best practice in vocabulary instruction is what I am presenting in The Key Vocabulary Routine from Keys to Literacy.  Selecting appropriate words, teaching explicitly and implicitly, connecting to students’ backgrounds, creating an environment which promotes word consciousness – all of that is in the Vocabulary Routine, and all of it was in my classroom.  I should have written this book.

I should retire and write a book. Yeah, right.  I have enough trouble parking my behind in a chair long enough to write a blog.  I think I will just continue to read professionally, marvel at the communication skill of these literacy legends, and share their work with whomever I see.

Becky DeSmith

Becky DeSmith Becky joined Keys to Literacy in 2007 and has been a literacy educator for over 35 years. She has taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, and been involved in many school and district-wide initiatives that address core literacy issues. She has been recognized as a Teacher of the Year by the International Reading Association.

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1 Comment

  1. Janice Daniels

    Thank you Becky for letting us know about Lemov’s book. I just ordered it for myself on Amazon. This may be my next “book study” with my staff!

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