Me Read? No Way!

A critical evaluation of an Ontario curriculum resource.

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Summary

This resource is provided by the Ontario Ministry of Education, and is widely used in schools across the province. It was created in response to findings that boys were attaining lower literacy scores than girls. It cites international best practices and provides strategies for teachers to use to help enhance literacy programs for boys.

Critical Analysis

The AREE teacher manual makes suggestions for how to create inclusive classrooms and schools. Below, we explore how this resource is aligned with those suggestions and the ways that it is not.


Literacy for ALL

On one level this document meets AREE's mandate to "promote equity of access and treatment for all students and allow all students the opportunities to excel to their fullest potential" (AREE Manual, Pg 6), as it is responding to the global " increasing urgency" of responding to boys' literacy (Me Read?, pg 4). On the flip side the document only focuses on male literacy, not all struggling learners, alienating some from these literacy opportunities. STEM blogger Tanya Spydergrrl blogged about engaging girls in STEM education and careers, and her response is to engage all learners in STEM. This approach to literacy would be far more inclusive and in line with the AREE Manual.


Who else could benefit?

It is also important for all students from all backgrounds, GLBQT+, different races, cultures, have exposure and access to literature that speaks to their own experiences and understanding of the world. Teachers must tie in strengths, interests & concerns of learning, teachers can increase learner motivation (Villegas & Lucas, 2002). By approaching literacy in in the narrow scope of attracting male readers, a large number of struggling readers needs will not be addressed. The strategies found in Me Read? No Way! can be used to engage all readers, the application merely needs to be adapted to suit the demographic of the class.


What about gender diversity?

This curriculum resource fails to acknowledge gender diversity by further perpetuating the gender binary of "boys" and "girls". The idea of having a resource that targets one of these two dichotomous groups assumes that students fit into one of two categories. Although this resources is intended for teachers to use as a reference and is not intended for students to read; it furthers the idea that boys and girls are the only two categories, and that they are very different from each other (Miller, 2009).

How to engage ALL kids in Reading

This article by Dr. Katherine McKnight, addresses making reading interesting to unmotivated, disinterested readers, regardless of race, culture, or gender. It focuses on the student and how to break down barriers for each child.

Universal Design for Learning

The Strategies found in Me Read? No Way! are useful for many different types of learners who are struggling to engage in reading. We encourage educators to think about how these ideas can be incorporated into a Universal Design for Learning model.


Universal Design for Learning is based on the idea that "assistance targeting a specific group can help everyone (Ministry of Education, 2013, p. 13). The strategies directed at engaging boys in reading in this resource could be easily adapted to Universal Design. It would be recommended that the Ministry of Education overhauls the document and changes to the focus from engaging boys in reading to making reading accessible to all learners who are struggling to engage in literacy.

For example: the strategy "choosing texts with positive male role models" could be reworked to selecting texts with role models reflecting the social, cultural and racial demographic of the classroom. This dynamic could change from year to year and the educator needs to respond to this so that all children are exposed to relate-able role models and at the same time exposed to unfamiliar role models, developing a more socially and culturally aware and responsive student.

REFERENCES


Knight, K. (2012, March). How to Engage ALL Kids in Reading. Retrieved February 02, 2016, from http://www.teachhub.com/how-engage-all-kids-reading


Miller, S. (2009). (Dis)Embedding Gender Diversity in the Preservice Classroom. In S. R. Steinberg (Ed.), Diversity and Multiculturalism: A Reader (pp. 193-209). New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.


Ministry of Education. (2013). Learning for All. A Guide to Effective Assessment and Instruction for all Students, Kindergarten to grade 12 (pp. 14-17). Toronto: Ontario Education.


Ministry of Education. (2004). Me read? No way!: A practical guide to improving boys' literacy skills. Toronto: Ontario Education.


Spydergrrl on the web: The ONLY Way To Get Girls into STEM (Boys Too!). (n.d.). Retrieved February 02, 2016, from http://www.spydergrrl.com/2014/06/the-only-way-to-get-girls-into-stem.html


Villegas, A. M., & Lucas, T. (2002). Preparing Culturally Responsive Teachers: Rethinking the Curriculum. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(1), 20-32.