Former Prime Minister Paul Martin recommends a four-year literacy pilot program implemented at two First Nations’ elementary schools should be put into place across Canada. Martin suggested the reading and writing program, implemented at Walpole Island and Kettle and Stony Point First nations in Ontario, improved students literacy performance. The program, designed by Julia O’Sullivan dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, required schools to carry out a mandatory reading and writing period for every student during the first 90 minutes of each day. Kettle and Stony Point First Nation chief Thomas Bressette drew attention to the underfunding of First Nations schools. Bressette noted “there needs to be a period of catch-up time because our people have been looked down on and set back because of underfunding, not because we’re ignorant and we’re dumb and uneducated and incapable of learning, but because of the circumstances.”
This Washington Post article features former school principal Joanne Yatvin’s thoughts on why it is important to provide students with the opportunity to self-select texts and to have designated time in the school day for independent reading. Yatvin notes that in many US schools the practice of independent reading “has been abandoned in favor of systematic programs that promise to raise student test scores.” Link to article: www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/09/08/why-kids-should-choose-their-own-books-to-read-in-school
What are your thoughts — do you consider independent reading to be an important part of a literacy program?