FOCUS Newsletter Fall 2023
Georgia Association of Literacy Advocates (GALA)
In this ISSUE of the GALA FOCUS NEWSLETTER:
1. UPDATES from GALA , Local Reading Councils, & ILA
- Henry Heritage Reading Council Celebrates Readers! Update provided by Anita Beasley
- GALA's Literacy Learning Series #5 - 8 UPDATE!
- Call for Submissions for SPRING 2024 FOCUS Issue 16 All Are Welcome to Submit ~ Including K-12 Students!
- Call for GALA Treasurer!
2. Author's Chair!
- You May Not Remember... by Melissa Bradley (Poem)
- From "We Real Coll" to "A Dream Deferred" by Dr. Christi L. Pace (Poem)
- Sept 3, 2023 -- My Final Letter: by Dr. Jennifer Allen (Letter)
3. Feature Articles
- Reading Revolution: Awakening a Culture of Literacy in Every School by Jillian Mitchell
- Language, Literacy, and (Dis)Ability by Rosi Sanchez and Leah Panther
- Book Talk! Sharing Award-Winning Picturebooks by Carole Boston Weatherford by William P. Bintz
- Poetry Packs Powerful Punch for Improving Reading by Lois Letchford, and Timothy Rasinski,
- Advocating for Read Alouds: Using the Mercy Watson Series to Inspire the Joy of Reading by Sally Brown and Jennifer Smalarz
4. Georgia Journal of Literacy Call for Submissions for the SPRING 2024 ISSUE!
5. K-12 Book Reviews
- Pet'a Shows Misun the Light (Rencountre, 2018); Reviewed by Kimberly Davidson
- Ghost Boys (Rhodes, 2017); Reviewed by Melissa H. Williams
- The Girl from Earth’s End (Dairman, 2023); Reviewed by Tamra Ogletree
- The Llama Who Rocks in Her Polka Dot Socks (Holland, 2023); Reviewed by Forrest R. Parker III
6. Professional Development Resource Review
- Unpacking The Megabook of Fluency: A Transformative Resource for Student Reading Engagement and Success (Rasinski & Smith, 2018); Reviewed by Dr. Robert A. Griffin
7. Professional Development Opportunities in Georgia
- West and Middle Georgia RESAs 2nd Annual Literacy Conference! "The Story Garden: The Sequel"; December 11th - 13th, 2023
1. UPDATES FROM GALA, LOCAL READING COUNCILS, & ILA
Henry Heritage Reading Council Celebrates Readers!
Update provided by Anita Beasely
It was a full house at Salem Baptist Church the evening of March 23, 2023! Parents, teachers, students, community members, family, and friends gathered to honor over 50 Henry County School students at our 28th annual Reader of the Year Ceremony. The members of the Henry Heritage Reading Council were so excited to see the students enter the sanctuary to receive their well-deserved reading honors after a three-year hiatus due to Covid restrictions.
Immediately following the welcome by Chair Katrina Smith-Padgett, Henry County School's Chief of Staff, Dr. Duke Bradley, gave an encouraging speech to the scholars being honored. Following the heartfelt message from Dr. Bradley, HHRC members began to announce the nominees for the awards and the category winners.
The evening ended with proud parents and teachers gathering to take pictures of the honorees. The excitement and energy were infectious and HHRC's hope is this will continue to flourish throughout our county and the state. Henry Heritage is honored to continue recognizing our readers of today, soon to be our leaders of tomorrow.
- Natalia Vargas-Jimenez -- Primary (K-2) Reader of the Year
- Mayra Martinez-Antunez -- Elementary (3-5) Reader of the Year
- Madelyn McDaniel -- Middle School Reader of the Year
- Savannah Williams -- High School Reader of the Year
- Sarah Martin -- Bob Jerrolds Improved Reader Achievement Award
- Maia Giovani -- Lindy Lopez-Butner Achievement Award for ELL Learners
GALA's Literacy Learning Series #5 - 8 UPDATE!
Literacy Learning Series #5 with Maria Walther
Literacy Workshop: Marching to the Beat of Your Readers and Writers
Maria Walther led educators through an eye-opening journey of how small changes in perspective can transform classrooms. Walther explained that these workshops not only respond to students' needs and curricular guidelines but also provide a fertile ground for the fusion of reading and writing skills. For students, the approach cultivates future-ready habits, while for educators, it streamlines lesson planning and enhances hands-on teaching time. Maria offered practical tips, including a list of mentor texts and key questions for evaluating infographics, ensuring educators left with actionable insights. (Held on 3.14.2023)
Literacy Learning Series #6 with Kellee Iverson & Judie Beccaro
Writing and Science in Action!
Please see the description to the right.
Participants were introduced to the dynamic intersections of science and literacy. The session equipped teachers with practical strategies and frameworks, notably the Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning (CER) model, to seamlessly integrate science and literacy tasks in their classrooms. From scaffolding techniques for CER to an example 2nd-grade lesson on the sun and moon patterns, the session was packed with actionable insights, enabling educators to create enriching, multidisciplinary learning experiences. (Held on 4.18.2023)
Literacy Learning Series #7 with Tim Rasinski
Effective Teaching of Reading Fluency – The Neglected Component of the Reading Curriculum
This session spotlighted the often-overlooked but crucial element of reading fluency. He elaborated on its foundational theories and research, while emphasizing its indispensable role in enhancing comprehension and overall reading proficiency. Taking a lively and interactive approach, Tim employed unique methods like songs, poems, and readers theater to underline his points. Notably, he captivated his audience by involving them in a group sing-along of the classic song "Georgia on My Mind," effectively demonstrating how such creative approaches can be employed to build reading fluency. (Held on 9.12.2023)
Unpacking The Megabook of Fluency: A Transformative Resource for Student Reading Engagement and Success (Rasinski & Smith, 2018)
Please read Dr. Robert Griffin's review of Tim Raskinski's co-authored book in our Professional Development Resource Review below!
Literacy Learning Series #8 with Jennifer Lindstrom
Dyslexia: Legislative Updates, Statewide Initiatives, &
Best Practices in Screening and Reading Intervention
Jennifer provided educators with the latest legislative updates related to dyslexia, notably covering the imminent implementation of S.B. 48 and H.B. 538, which involve key aspects of teacher training and professional development. Dr. Lindstrom also shed light on the findings of Georgia's three-year Dyslexia Pilot Program and presented guidance on effective dyslexia screening as part of the MTSS process. The session served as a comprehensive guide for educators, offering Q&A time and laying out plans for 2024-2025, all aimed at aligning state literacy policies and best practices for dyslexia intervention. (Held on 10.17.2023)
Join Us for Literacy Learning Series #9 with Tim Rasinski!
Whatever Happened to the Art of Teaching Reading?
Tuesday, November 14th @ 3:30
Watch your email for registration information!
Call for Submissions for SPRING 2024 FOCUS Issue 16
All Are Welcome to Submit ~ Including K-12 Students!
Call for GALA Treasurer!
Join GALA's Executive Board and Leadership Team
The Georgia Association of Literacy Advocates (GALA) is looking for a dedicated individual to take on the vital role of Treasurer. If you're ready to make a difference and help manage our organization's finances, we invite you to consider this important opportunity.
*Please click on the button below to learn more information about the position!
2. AUTHOR'S CHAIR!
Please take a few minutes to read...
You May Not Remember…
By Melissa Bradley (Poem)
Melissa is a first-grade teacher at Jones Elementary. She wrote this piece in memory of her dad, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease and recently passed away. He was instrumental in her love of writing, and she wanted to honor him and some of the memories they shared through this piece.
*Select the graphic to read Melissa's poem.
From “We Real Cool” to “A Dream Deferred"
By Dr. Christi L. Pace (Poem)
Christi is an Assistant Professor of Language & Literacy Education at Augusta University. This is an original poem told from a high school student's point of view/perspective. It is intended to illuminate student frustration with the amount of instructional time spent on mandated standardized testing and test prep in lieu of reading and learning through culturally relevant, high-interest text. While we often hear teachers' frustration with such top-down approaches voiced in the media or other outlets, we rarely hear students' views on this topic.
*Select the graphic to read Christi's poem.
Sept 3, 2023 – My Final Letter:
By Dr. Jennifer K. Allen (Letter)
Jennifer is an Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of West Georgia. When Jennifer was just 10 years old, she began a pen pal correspondence with then Captain Rick Clifton who was stationed in Saudi Arabia with the United States Army for Operation Desert Storm. Their pen pal letters began a lifelong friendship between the two. Sadly, Rick passed away this past August, and Jennifer wrote a final letter as a tribute to their unique connection.
*Select the graphic to read Jennifer's letter.
3. FEATURE ARTICLES
Reading Revolution: Awakening a Culture of Literacy in Every School
“Drop Everything and Read!” It was the battle cry of every nineties' classroom in the war against declining reading scores. Once a day, once a week, or once a class period, students were encouraged to stop the grind of schoolwork and take part in silent reading, a tradition that lovingly became known as DEAR. Teachers designed pillowed classroom corners, laid out reading rugs, or pitched cozy tents to make this reading time fun. As is often the case in education, requirements for evidence of DEAR’s effectiveness in the form of data halted its march in the literacy war. Reading logs and inventories of classroom libraries gave way to limited book lists or choices based on Lexile scores. In the wake of Common Core Standards, No Child Left Behind, and constantly shifting state standards and standardized tests, DEAR nearly dropped dead.
What the “Drop Everything and Read!” initiative hoped to build was a culture of literacy in every American Classroom. Three decades later, the shadows of that revolution loom large. As those in education deal with the gaps left by the COVID-19 pandemic, we see literacy as one of the greatest areas of need. In the philosophy that it “takes a village,” there is a new call to action for schools to build an all-encompassing culture of literacy outside of the Language Arts classroom.
*Select button below to continue reading.
Language, Literacy, and (Dis)Ability
Rosi Sanchez, Elementary Special Education Teacher, Atlanta Public Schools
Leah Panther, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Literacy Education, Mercer University
As educators, we often discuss in professional learning sessions, team meetings, teacher education courses, and research meetings “teaching the whole child” and rooting our pedagogies in believing “all learners can learn.” However, in an era of increased workload, standardization, and threats to the profession, those beliefs are sometimes challenged, difficult to translate into curriculum and instruction, or outright silenced. Within language and literacy education, we are committed to centering the learners who are most at risk of being underserved or centered within our everyday curricular choices because if we can get it “right” for the most marginalized and othered within schooling systems, we’re more likely to get it right for all other learners, as well (Muhammad, 2022). For me (Rosi), this means centering students identified as needing special education and English language learners. For me (Leah), this means centering English language learners, students of Color, and refugees. Working together, we explore the intersectionalities of our learners through the lens of Dis/ability Critical Race Theory (DisCrit), a theoretical framework that can help other literacy advocates in Georgia have the language and lenses to truly enact our beliefs that all learners can learn.
Why DiCrit for Language and Literacy Education?
Students do not just have one identity and are simultaneously both raced and disabled. Thus, “DisCrit explores ways in which both race and ability are socially constructed and interdependent” (Annamma et al., 2013, p. 5). With education, DisCrit theorizes ways in which race, racism, dis/ability, and ableism are built into schools and how they impact students of color with disabilities more than their White peers with disabilities. DisCrit is a lens that exposes the ways racism and ableism have been intertwined and normalized in “interactions, procedures, discourses, and institutions of education” (Annamma et al., 2016b, p. 14). Through this lens, we might ask questions of the educational systems rather than of individual learners, such as:
*Select button below to continue reading.
Book Talk! Sharing Award-Winning Picturebooks by Carole Boston Weatherford
William P. Bintz, Ph.D., Professor, Kent State University
Carole Boston Weatherford is a prolific author of award-winning picturebooks and collections of poetry. Much of her work focuses on important, if not famous, but little-known places, events, and people. For example, Freedom in Congo Square (Weatherford, 2016) is a nonfiction story about slavery during the 19th century in Louisiana. It also celebrates Congo Square in New Orleans, where enslaved people could congregate on Sundays to temporarily forget their oppression by singing, dancing, and playing music. Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre (Weatherford, 2021) is a multi-award winning picturebook that traces one of the most horrific acts of racial violence in America’s history. Freedom on the Menu (Weatherford, 2007) tells the story of four young African American men who rejected segregation and took a stand for equal rights by sitting at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Champions on the Bench (Weatherford, 2006) honors Cleveland, a young boy who played for the only African American Little League baseball team in South Carolina and who, along with his teammates, overcame racial prejudice and participated in the all-white South Carolina Little League State Tournament.
In addition to historic places and events, this author also honors and celebrates famous but little- known historical figures. For example, Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom (Weatherford, 2020) tells the story of a little boy named Henry Brown who was born into slavery but longed for freedom. One day, he literally mailed himself in a box to Philadelphia so he could finally be free. Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library (Weatherford, 2019) introduces Arturo Schomburg, an Afro-Puerto Rican man who loved to collect books about people of African descent. He collected so many books that he collaborated with the New York Public Library to create the Schomburg Center for Research. Sink or Swim: African American Lifesavers of the Outer Banks (Weatherford, 1999) is the remarkable story of the U.S. Lifesaving Service, which operated with an African American crew to save countless lives from dangerous waters.
*Select button below to continue reading.
**Three of the 11 books by Carole Boston Weatherford mentioned in this article are linked below.
Poetry Packs Powerful Punch for Improving Reading
Lois Letchford, Author & Educator
Timothy Rasinski, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Kent State University
In 1994, my (Lois, first author) six-year-old son, Nicholas, failed first grade. Every day throughout this year, his fingernails were bitten to the quick, his pants soiled, and his teacher shouted at him. Standardized intelligence testing, completed at the end of this horrible year, showed he could only read ten words, had a low IQ, and displayed no academic strengths. The prognosis was dire, and expectations low.
Thirty years later, I spoke with my son about his experience.
"Tell me what happened in first grade?" I asked innocently, wanting details. My now articulate, confident, ambitious son, who recently completed his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Oxford University, cried. Tears ran down his face. His tongue went around and around in his mouth as words remained locked in that memory, declining to emerge.
*Select button below to continue reading.
Advocating for Read Alouds: Using the Mercy Watson Series to Inspire the Joy of Reading
Sally Brown, Ph.D., Professor of Literacy Education, Georgia Southern University
Jennifer Smalarz, Kindergarten Teacher, Whitesville Elementary
In an era when scripted curricula pervade educational policies, teachers must advocate for the continued use of read alouds in classrooms (International Literacy Association, 2019; Layne, 2015). Interactive read-alouds offer active, authentic literacy learning opportunities for emergent readers as the teacher scaffolds young learners through think-alouds, questioning strategies, and community discussions (Wiseman, 2011). While this may be a frequent practice with picture books, it is less common with chapter books in kindergarten classrooms. Let’s peek into Ms. Smalarz’s kindergarten classroom to see how she uses the Mercy Watson (DiCamillo & Dusen, 2011) chapter book series to engage, motivate, and invite her students into the world of reading.
*Select button below to continue reading.
4. GEORGIA JOURNAL OF LITERACY CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS for SPRING 2024 ISSUE!
GJL Call for Submissions
Spring 2024 Issue Submission Deadline: December 8, 2023 Georgia Journal of Literacy is the peer-reviewed, open-access publication of the Georgia Association of Literacy Advocates (GALA), an affiliate of the International Literacy Association (ILA). We publish research- and practitioner-ba...
5. K-12 BOOK REVIEWS!
Pet'a Shows Misun the Light by Jessie Rencountre (2018)
Reviewed by Kimberly Davidson, Ph.D.
University of North Georgia
I had the great fortune to acquire a copy of the children’s book, Pet’a Shows Misun the Light, from the author, Jessie Rencountre when visiting the Crazy Horse monument in South Dakota this past summer. Ms. Rencountre is a writer, public speaker, school counselor, educator, winner of the 2017 Great Plains Emerging Tribal Writer Award, and Lakota woman who shared some history of the monument, significance of the Black Hills region, and struggle of the Lakota nations to remain independent on their sacred and ancestral lands. Despite the heavy subject matter of her talk, Ms. Rencountre had a very approachable, positive demeanor and speaking style that remained inclusive and uplifting throughout the presentation. At the conclusion of the talk, she and her daughter demonstrated traditional jingle dances and signed copies of the book, which were available for purchase. Ms. Rencountre shared that she wrote Pet’a Shows Misun the Light in response to the many questions she fields from elementary and high school students about the misfortunes and harms they witness in the world around them. The concerns of these students inspired the central question of the book the main character, Misun (Me-sun; little brother in the Lakota language), poses to his grandparents: “Why do people do hurtful things to others?”
Misun’s question is prompted after witnessing episodes of bullying at school toward a girl who lacks economic resources. At night, before he sleeps, Misun thinks of other examples of the harms he sees in the world: mean parents, alcohol and drug abuse, war, and his own circumstances of being raised by grandparents. At his grandparents’ suggestion, Misun asks his question to the night sky. He is visited by an other-worldly being named Pet’a (Phe-dah; fire in Lakota), who takes him flying out into the night sky to view the varying brightness of the lights shining within all the people below. Pet’a explains that some people have forgotten their beauty and worth due to hurt and anger, causing their inner lights to dim. Pet’a shows Misun that the dim lights shine brighter when those carrying bright lights within surround them and leaves him back at his home with the understanding that he can choose kindness and compassion to change the world for the better.
The text is complemented by simple illustrations by Erin Walker-Jensen that vividly bring the characters and settings to life while leaving room for the reader’s imagination. There are no scary or negative images that might upset or frighten young readers. The back matter provides insight into the character names and the concept of “Mitakuye Owasin,” a Lakota phrase that denotes the interconnectedness of all things. Likewise, the book's central message is inclusivity and the recognition of good in everyone. The challenges recounted by the characters are relatable to readers, young and old, on both a personal and universal level. This book can be used as a read aloud or for independent reading in English Language Arts and lessons centered on Social, Emotional, and Behavioral learning outcomes. Pet’a Shows Misun the Light has the potential to inspire empathy, compassion, and the will to act for justice on behalf of others and would be a great addition to any elementary or middle school classroom or library.
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes (2017)
Reviewed by Dr. Melissa H. Williams
Assistant Professor of Teacher Education
College of Coastal Georgia
Black Male Shot by White Cop
These headlines are seen each and every day in the newspaper or on television. This is the reality of our students. How do we discuss social justice and inequality with middle school learners?
The Hate U Give (Thomas, 2017) is a popular novel for adolescents; however, it might be too much for your student population. If so, Ghost Boys (Rhodes, 2017) is an excellent alternative for discussing real-world, current events of police brutality and racism. The story begins with 12-year-old Jerome Rogers looking down on his own dead body. The title encompasses not only Jerome as a ghost but also many other “boys” from history who died too young at the hands of others. One of the ghosts - Emmett Till - adds a critical historical view of racism to the novel.
Ghost Boys is just over 200 pages and is an easier read for most middle grades students. The story is written in past and present tense - so the chapters jump from when the main character, Jerome, is alive to when he is dead. A white police officer shot Jerome, and interestingly enough, as a ghost, Jerome can be seen by one person - Sarah - the officer’s adolescent daughter.
Young people are living the pages of this novel - and experiencing many conflicting emotions. Lorena Escoto German notes in her book Textured Teaching: A Framework for Culturally Sustaining Practices (2021), “We need to take their anger, their frustrations, their disappointment and encourage our students to turn that into fuel for action” (p. 55). As educators, we must take on these difficult topics within our classrooms and help students learn to process their emotions; Ghost Boys facilitates such discussions.
German noted that Textured Teaching is “dedicated to inspiring a drive for positive social transformation in students, who and what students see through their reading is key” (p. 35). Ghost Boys may provide both a window and a mirror (Bishop, 1990) for your adolescent learners. As a window book, the novel can show some students a world very different from their own. It will allow them to view a different perspective of world events and engage them in social issues. As a mirror, some of your students will see their own world, their own culture, their own ethnicity, and their own families. In addition, Ghost Boys could be used for an interdisciplinary unit, including reading standards, writing strategies, historical events, critical thinking skills, and problem-solving techniques.
Ghost Boys takes students on an emotional roller coaster ride as they experience history, friendship, justice, life, death, and family dynamics in America. Themes in the novel include systemic racism, prejudice, and social injustice. At the end of the book, purposeful discussion questions and additional resources are provided for educators.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes located on the last page of the book (Rhodes, 2017, p. 203):
“Only the living can make the world better.
Live and make it better. Don’t let me
(or anyone else)
Tell this tale again.”
- Bishop, R. S. (1990). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom, 6(3), ix-xi.
- German, L. E. (2021). Textured teaching: A framework for culturally sustaining practices. Heinemann.
- Rhodes, J. P. (2018). Ghost boys. Little, Brown, and Company.
- Thomas, A. (2017), The hate u give. Balzer and Bray.
The Girl from Earth’s End by Tara Dairman (2023)
Reviewed by Tamra Ogletree, Ph.D.
Professor of Literacy
University of West Georgia
Tara Dairman's The Girl From Earth's End is a captivating blend of intrigue, mystery, and enchantment. Still, its central theme is one of unwavering hope. The story follows twelve-year-old Henna, who embarks on a journey from her only familiar home to St. Basil’s Academy, seeking a cure for her ailing Papa. Here, Henna encounters fellow humans for the first time and navigates the unfamiliar customs of her new world. Alongside Henna, we witness the emergence of hope for her two roommates, P, who embarks on a quest for self-discovery through their ingenious schemes, and Lora, who asserts her newfound independence.
Set in a futuristic semi-dystopian society, the story delves into acceptance, resilience, and inclusivity themes, challenging readers' preconceptions. The characters' struggles become deeply engaging, and readers will share their triumphs. The book's realistic yet heartrending ending is surprising and leaves a lingering desire for more.
The Girl From Earth’s End offers a fresh perspective on contentious issues, addressing them with a realism that normalizes these discussions. I wholeheartedly recommend this book for middle to high school classrooms, as it serves as an excellent discussion point. Additionally, it provides enjoyable reading for adults seeking a thought-provoking narrative.
The Llama Who Rocks in Her Polka Dot Socks by Dave Holland (2023)
Reviewed by Forrest R. Parker III, Ph.D.
Lecturer of Education
Valdosta State University
The Llama Who Rocks in Her Polka Dot Socks (Holland, 2023) is an enchanting picture book that combines vibrant illustrations, rhythmic prose, and an endearing story to create a delightful reading experience for young readers. Written by an emerging author and talented musician, this book celebrates self-expression and the power of embracing one's uniqueness, all while encouraging positive social behavior. It is also the first book of its kind to include the topic of appropriate community music making.
The story revolves around a charismatic llama named Lulu, known for her bold fashion choices and love for polka dot socks. Lulu's infectious spirit and unapologetic confidence inspire the other animals in the story to express themselves freely while maintaining a positive attitude. Through her interactions with various characters, Lulu encourages them to embrace their individuality and find their own unique voice while doing good deeds.
What truly stands out in this book is the author's ability to engage young readers through a rhythmic and lyrical writing style. The text flows effortlessly, making it a pleasure to read aloud. The rhymes and repetitive phrases add a musical quality, making it easy for children to participate and anticipate what comes next. This interactive element enhances the reading experience and captivates young imaginations.
The illustrations in The Llama Who Rocks in Her Polka Dot Socks are an absolute delight. Using bold colors and whimsical details brings the story to life, engaging readers visually on every page. Each animal character is distinctly portrayed, capturing their unique personalities and emotions. The vibrant artwork perfectly complements the lively narrative, creating a visually stimulating experience for young readers.
Beyond its entertainment value, this book subtly conveys essential messages about socially appropriate behavior and interpersonal skills. Through Lulu's interactions with the other characters in diverse settings, children are encouraged to appreciate the value of being a good person in all they do. The underlying themes of listening, taking turns, participating, helping others, inviting others, looking for the good in others, volunteering, and even self-care are seamlessly integrated into the narrative, making it a valuable tool for teaching important life lessons to young readers.
The Llama Who Rocks in Her Polka Dot Socks is a whimsical and heartwarming book that encourages young readers to embrace their authentic selves and celebrate their individuality. Its captivating illustrations, rhythmic prose, and positive messages will surely engage and inspire children as they embark on their own journey of social-emotional learning. This charming tale is a must-have addition to any children's bookshelf, providing a joyful and uplifting reading experience for both children and their caregivers.
6. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT RESOURCE REVIEW
Unpacking The Megabook of Fluency: A Transformative Resource for Student Reading Engagement and Success (Rasinski & Smith, 2018)
Reviewed by Dr. Robert A. Griffin
Associate Professor of Literacy Education
University of West Georgia
Reading fluency is an underappreciated and often misunderstood skill in literacy instruction. Far too many educators, perhaps overwhelmed by other instructional mandates, sideline fluency as a nice-to-have rather than a need-to-have. Dr. Timothy V. Rasinski and Melissa Cheesman Smith’s The Megabook of Fluency (2018) reinvigorates our understanding of fluency’s critical role in reading instruction, offering concrete methods to integrate fluency work into daily literacy practices.
Rasinski, a fluency expert, and Smith, an experienced fifth-grade teacher, masterfully blend research and practice in this volume. One of the book’s standout features is the practicality of its tools—ready-to-use lessons, assessment scales, and even student pages featuring poems, speeches, and rhymes. As someone who has spent years in research and classroom environments, I appreciate the authors’ commitment to grounding their suggestions in solid research findings. This research grounding is reflected in their EARS (Expression, Automatic Word Recognition, Rhythm and Phrasing, and Smoothness) framework, which neatly captures fluency's multifaceted nature.
What struck me most was the authors’ conscious effort to make the material adaptable for diverse classrooms. Rasinski and Smith show that fluency isn’t just for monolingual students; emerging bilinguals can also thrive when fluency instruction is delivered effectively. This inclusive approach should resonate with many educators.
The book is not merely a theoretical or practical guide; it is a vibrant treasure trove. The authors respect teachers’ time by offering navigable sections, making it easy to find what you need when you need it. With an appealing design, the book promises to engage the educator as much as the students they teach.
The Megabook of Fluency is a must-have resource for teachers committed to fostering reading skills that go beyond mere decoding. It allows for a nuanced understanding of fluency that translates to enhanced comprehension, making reading the joyful act it should be. This is not just a book; it’s an invitation to transform our understanding of fluency and, consequently, our students’ relationship with reading.
7. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN GEORGIA
West and Middle Georgia RESAs 2nd Annual Literacy Conference! "The Story Garden: The Sequel"
December 11th - 13th, 2023
Callaway Resort & Gardens Lodge & Spa
Pine Mountain, Georgia
Target Audience: K-12 Teachers; Media Specialists, Instructional Coaches, & APIs
Registration Deadline: November 10th, 2023
*Select the link below for more information.