Reading to Write

The main audience of the International Literacy Association is the educators who teach RLA and writing skills in their respective roles on various educational levels including a foreign audience. Because writing is our effort to communicate our symbolization and understanding of the world, it serves no true purpose to teach only academic writing, or only creative writing, or only narratives, etc. What students’ benefit from most are the writing experiences they have in class, not for the grade of it, but for the reflection involved in the process approach to writing. Synthesizing information requires an engaging of that information on diverse levels in addition to expanding the conversation in relation to that information. It’s hard to teach experience, but it is easier, with technology, to activate areas of learning not usually stimulated through reading only. Reading to comprehend is a wonderful experience, but can that comprehension lead to questions that lead to more research?

While reading Reconnecting Reading and Writing by Alice S. Horning & Elizabeth W. Kraemer, I found their connections of the principles of reading and writing to initiatives of the International Literacy Association to be valuable in measuring how much time could and should be spent on a certain method of instruction. Horning et al. suggest “students have difficulty reading critically in order to use source materials appropriately, and will benefit from reconnecting reading and writing” (8). In order to reconnect the students’ reading and writing a synthesizing of multiple platforms of written expression can be combined to allow the student more opportunities to interact with the text. The various forms of interaction with a text gives the student multiple ways of thinking critically about a topic, connecting that topic to the world, and expressing that connection to others in a clear, detailed form. It also important for that student to be able to identify with the information they are receiving in some way. Identifying with information is easier said than done when a student is not interested in a text, for example. Interest level can be difficult to increase for students who do not ‘see’themselves as a part of the social aspects of engaging in discourse and reading.

The International Literacy Association approaches the act of reading as a “socio-cognitive” act (8). Once the “Why Literacy” tab is clicked, the note administrators’ offer is that literacy connects people. The connection made through the “ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, [and] compute” textual information is proven in the aptitude for people to communicate effectively in print, audio, and digital format. This synthesizing of information is crucial in the classroom for the basic writer who has not had much experience formally connecting information to communicate ideas. Although, people synthesize information often to convey information, the structure of academic writing defines the process of synthesizing that information and communicating those ideas effectively on multiple platforms. The knowledge and skills students learn enables them to be more confident in their reading and writing skills. I asked my students what were the more difficult aspects of reading and writing to them and they responded that ‘expanding’ their thoughts was most difficult, while some found that ‘punctuation’ was most difficult in writing. This expansion of thought seems easier, in my experience, from using multiple forms of transmission to interact with texts and information because the reader/writer is forced to engage different regions of the brain (when considering a psycholinguistic approach). So, meshing reading and writing into one class would involve reading a text aloud together, stopping in between to analyze certain portions of the text as we go, individual reading of the text, and writing a short response to 3 to 4 questions that the instructor may come up with. I suggest very specific questions that create the need to analyze the text from a formalists’ perspective.

The International Literacy Association provides a platform for educators to find resources for and examples of methods that introduce students to and develop students’ skills in theory and in practice. Reading is more than looking at words to summarize what occurred, but some basic writers do not understand how to formulate and answer the complex questions that arise from reading a text critically. The association supports the notion that “readers must be able to analyze texts to see how parts fit together […] be able to synthesize different readings on the same topic [to] see a range of perspectives [,] be able to evaluate the material” and use all of that information to create a sound response to academic discourse and add to the conversation (Horning et al. 10). Even first year Harvard graduates were “proud of the input they had in the scholarly discourse of their classes” (10). As such, all students would benefit from feeling as though they have made a contribution to developing ideas and knowing their addition to discourse arose out of their own blending of information.

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2 thoughts on “Reading to Write

  1. “Identifying with information is easier said than done when a student is not interested in a text, for example. Interest level can be difficult to increase for students who do not ‘see’themselves as a part of the social aspects of engaging in discourse and reading.”

    I hear that from students every semester — they only want to write about things that interest them. My response is usually, “No joke, but how are you going to learn anything that way?” I try to go over how expanding their knowledge base will help them later with synthesis, but it’s still a fight to get them to read their assignments.

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  2. “The International Literacy Association approaches the act of reading as a ‘socio-cognitive’ act (8). Once the ‘Why Literacy’ tab is clicked, the note administrators’ offer is that literacy connects people. The connection made through the ‘ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, [and] compute’ textual information is proven in the aptitude for people to communicate effectively in print, audio, and digital format. This synthesizing of information is crucial in the classroom for the basic writer who has not had much experience formally connecting information to communicate ideas.”

    I like this part here – and I agree, literacy does connect people. I already talked about this on “Sharing the Booty,” reading makes people more compassionate because it is an act of travel, and act to gain a better understanding of others. Reading anything will move students toward the skill to synthesize information, which truly is an important skill in the classroom. This is also the skill that many BW or first year students struggle with. Reading – engaging with the thoughts and writing of others will help students improve, but the question is, how do we get them there? How do we get them to want to engage with reading and writing?

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