The Alignment Of Skills And Practice Via Active Reading Methodology

M Jane Brooke
2013 Teaching in Lifelong Learning: A Journal to Inform and Improve Practice  
How does the literacy teacher negotiate the tensions between skills and social practice? Negotiation requires engaging with the debate in which literacy is seen as a set of discrete, transferable skills, dependent upon cognitive development, to the notion of literacies which are bound to social practice, and adapting teaching practices which align these two perspectives. Literacy teacher training can facilitate this via modelling literacy pedagogy such as active reading strategies based upon
more » ... egies based upon authentic texts. This paper will discuss the skills and practice debate, and then illustrate the alignment of the two perspectives by reference to some specific active reading strategies devised around a restaurant menu. Background As a literacy teacher trainer, I am conscious of developing training approaches which align social practice with skills development in order to promote literacy in socially-situated contexts. Alignment is not a matter of chance but requires tutors' sympathetic engagement with the skills and social practice debate, and the development of practical teaching strategies which draw the threads together. Teacher training can facilitate this through explicit modelling of literacy strategies, such as active reading. Explicit modelling by Teacher Educators 'is about us "doing" in our practice that which we expect our students to do in their teaching ' (Loughran and Berry, 2005: p. 194). However, as Lunenberg et al (2007) state, Teacher Educators should not automatically assume that their trainees either can or should replicate activities and/or approaches in their own teaching. What is more important is that explicit modelling should provide opportunities for reflection such as how activities and strategies could be applied in different situations. In addition, Teacher Educators should articulate not only the rationale behind such approaches, but make explicit the links between strategy and theory in order to help trainees translate what has been modelled into their own teaching practice. What is active reading methodology? Active reading methodology is based upon the discussion and analysis of texts, such as exploring their meaning in a social context, in order to help learners engage with the multifarious literacy practices of everyday life. Active reading uses strategies such as cloze or gap-fill, sequencing, summarising, creating graphic organisers, analysis, and preteaching of new and specialised vocabulary. Combining active reading strategies with different text genres helps to develop wider reading skills per se. In addition, the interactive nature of active reading strategies blends the skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening, and this interdependency reflects the reality of everyday literacy practices. Lunzer and Gardner, pioneers of active reading methodology, argue that: 'It is through spoken language, discussion, that we come to terms with written language. When the matter is difficult for us, it is only in the process of talking and writing about it that we can overcome what is compact or opaque in the printed word'.
doi:10.5920/till.2013.425 fatcat:4hnsfaudp5d5pj2al2wujmh2pm