Sunday, August 30, 2009

Two Weeks Later

So it's been two weeks in Urbana, and things have been moving at a fast pace. Like I said, I am working as a teacher's assistant at a local middle school. I'm helping out with the classes for the students with learning disabilities, emotional disabilities, and cognitive impairments. We're spending most of our time working on reading skills, as we are working primarily with 7th and 8th graders who have 2nd or 3rd grade reading levels. There are lots of challenges that spring up here, of course, but one that has surprised me the most is the issue of finding proper reading material for our students. In order to get them to be reading on their own, to themselves, on their own time - which is one of our biggest goals - they need to have texts that they can both comprehend and be interested in. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the literature that they can read doesn't interest them at all; you have no idea how many times last week that I heard someone tell me, "Man, I don't want to read that. That's kid's stuff."

And it's true; no 14-year old wants to read (or, even more so, be seen reading) anything about Amelia Badelia or My Teacher the Tyrannosaurus. Unfortunately, everything that I have found so far that might be interesting to them on a thematic level is above their reading comprehension skills.

So here's your homework - I know that a lot of you have some kind of experience in either early education or special education. So my question is: what resources exist for these students? There should be a program that publishes reading material that deals with issues appropriate for young adults that is on a young child's reading skill level. I have done some research into the area online, but, although I have found some interesting independently published journals aimed at middle school-aged students, I have yet to find anything that could possibly accommodate our students. So, please, if you have any leads on where to find literature designed for young adults with learning disabilities and remedial reading skills, or if you know of someone who might have some productive thoughts on this matter, please let me know.


Anonymous said...

would song lyrics work?

Joel said...

Or poetry, maybe. A lot of the kids - black and white - are always singing rap lyrics. But the trick would be to find some appropriate for class.

Rick said...

I think you may have discovered a whole new industry!! How do you write "Run, Spot, Run!! before you get shot!"???