Teachers for Teachers | Is Researching For Fantasy Football Reading?
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Is Researching For Fantasy Football Reading?

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“Is researching for fantasy football reading?”  This is a question I have been thinking about this week.  My neighbor created a fantasy football league that is comprised of kids and adults.  The members had one week to prepare for the draft.  Rules were set, procedures were explained and the time of the draft was established.  What transpired after that was something I have never seen before – boys, lots of them, huddled together reading, talking, reading, talking and reading.  They had books, magazines, iPads, smart phones, computers, newspapers and football cards.  I watched them engage in this process for many hours over several days.

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As I walked past them one day in my backyard I commented, “ It is so great to see all this excitement around reading.”  It was as if I had spoken a foreign language.  They looked up at me confused and one boy replied, “We’re not reading.”  I could not believe what he said, but I hid my dismay and replied, “That is interesting to me.  Why do you think that?”

<CAUTION: The following answers may make you want to scream. >

“This is fun.”

“We want to do this – no one is telling us we have to do this.”

“We are using computers and stuff so that is not really reading.”

“We doing this to make a team for something we want to do for fun.  That is not reading.”

 

Now two of these children are mine and I was in shock that these were the answers.  These kids were reading across multiple texts, determining importance, synthesizing, and analyzing.  They were clearly close reading – rereading, annotating, and reading for multiple purposes.   Where I have I gone wrong in defining what reading is in my own family?  We read all the time, we listen to books on tape, I still read aloud to my 13 and 11 year olds, and we are always talking about books together.  Clearly, however, I have missed an opportunity to broaden the definition of reading with my kids.

 

Most professional development sessions I have attended in the past year have had a focus on student engagement.  So many discussions have been about kids not wanting to read and not have stamina for reading.  So many parents share that their children resist reading at home.  How could such a simple idea inspire such engagement and stamina in reading?  Maybe we need to broaden our definition of reading in order to engage our readers.  I began thinking about other opportunities for kids to read for purposeful reasons that interest them:

-Research an upcoming vacation

-Learn how to garden

-Read about taking care of a pet

-Learn how to cook something

-Learn how to make a craft

-Track sports statistics

– Read books or cards to play trading card games like Pokemon

-Read sports trading cards to learn about players

-Read to build characters for Dungeons and Dragons

 

What I love about these ideas is that they not only get kids reading for a purpose, they authentically give our readers reasons to respond to their reading and share their reading with an audience.  The Common Core State Standards are asking our students to:

–       Read closely to determine what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

–       Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

–       Analyze how two or more texts address similar topics in order to build knowledge.

This is exactly what these boys were doing.

I have asked the parents, teachers, and colleagues I have seen this week if they think researching for fantasy football is reading.  I have been surprised at how many have said, “No.”  I am not sure there is a right or wrong answer and I am certainly not advocating for schools to begin gambling leagues for students, but I am thinking about the amount of passion, engagement, motivation and reading I saw in a group of boys on a summer day.  Lucy Calkins reminds us that we are entering a reading and writing revolution, “As the ways of communicating seep into every nook and cranny of our day – text messaging, email, social media, search engines – all of us are using (reading) and writing more than ever.  Today, it has become increasingly important that all children are given an education that enables them to synthesize, organize, reflect on, and respond to the data in their world.”  Maybe we need to revolutionize how we define reading and writing to give our kids opportunities to read and have fun, to read for purposes they care about and to use technology when they are reading.

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Is researching for fantasy football reading?  We would love to hear your perspective.

2 Comments
  • Avatar
    Vicki Vinton
    Posted at 14:29h, 02 September Reply

    So what am I doing on Labor Day? Catching up on blog post reading, which interestingly enough also included Jennifer Serravallo’s post on assessment for IRA (http://www.reading.org/general/publications/blog/engage/engage-single-post/engage/2013/08/29/more-of-whats-meaningful-formative-assessments), which in my mind dovetailed so nicely with this.

    I think that question “Why do you think that?” is such a powerful formative assessment tool, and I wonder whether we sometimes shy away from it because we don’t always want to know what kids’ really think because it can reveal these uncomfortable truths. But here it’s allows you to really think about implications of what the kids said, which I think is what formative assessment should do. And I love that it led to an exploration of authentic and engaged reading. So yes! Researching for Fantasy Reading is definitely authentic reading!

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 01:42h, 05 September Reply

      We too loved Jen’s post this week! We find that asking, “Why do you think that?” works in so many situations. It slows us down, pushes us to listen and gives them time to share their thinking. So often we are worried about student engagement — that question get them in the game! Thanks.

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