This article is the seventh in a series that summarizes and reflects upon the Ontario Ministry of Education 2009 document Me Read? And How!
The seventh strategy advocated for improving boys’ reading:
Read Between the Lines
Reading between the lines encompasses two aspects that are closely related and even overlap: making connections with the world and other texts (print, video, etc.) and critical thinking. It’s a prime goal of education for students to become critical and question regarding all sources that they read, hear or view (44). Being a critical thinker is more than understanding the basic text. Critically thinking about a reading selection involves the fourth and fifth areas of Bloom’s taxonomy: analyze and evaluate. When you are analyzing, you are examining, comparing, contrasting, investigating, categorizing, identifying and explaining. When you are evaluating, you are choosing, deciding, recommending, assessing, justifying, rating and prioritizing. It is more complicated and involved than regurgitating factual information: remembering, understanding and applying the content. Thinking critically about the world, I would argue, is one of the most important goals of a modern education. Boys actually enjoy making critical connections concerning world events, politics, or any other subject that provides an intellectual challenge. This strategy connects with “Make it Real” because they are driven by real-world issues, confronting and resolving real problems.
Ideas for encouraging critical thinking and making connections with literature and the world:
1. Action Strategies, think alouds, accountable talk, problem-posing questions, role play and radio call-in
2. Real-World Issue Topics: environmental issues, current events, politics,
3. Graphic Novels: how to use colour to create mood, use images and worlds to convey the characters, use visual features, integrate visual and text, and use dialogue and heroic patterns. Check out the Cooperative Children’s Book Center School of Education, University of Wisconsin for numerous resources for using graphic novels as a teaching tool.
4. Edugains Web site: search for critical thinking resources on the site.
5. International Reading Association: a variety of reading and critical thinking resources and programs on the site.
6. ReadWriteThink: it contains numerous reading and writing tools and sources for promoting literacy; search critical literacy on their site.
7. The Critical Thinking Community: this non-profit organization site contains numerous resources on the subject of critical thinking.
Help students to question the world around them and think about how they can take action to make the world a better place. They need to develop their voice and opinions. They need authentic learning experiences to foster an attitude of life-long learning.
Quotes of Inspiration: Thinking critically can have a profound effect on the world. These examples directly (and sometimes indirectly) expound why it’s important to teach people to think critically.
“The great masses of the people…will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.” ~ Adolf Hitler
“The highest result of education is tolerance.” ~ Helen Keller
“To every complex question there is a simple answer and it is wrong…” ~ H.L. Mencken
“You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil. A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Next Boys’ Literacy Strategy: #8 – Keep it Real