Regie Routman is one of those literacy experts I know I can trust. When she has a new book hitting the shelves, I can almost guarantee that it will be brimming with wisdom and practical suggestions. Regie Routman's latest book, Literacy Essentials: Engagement, Excellence, and Equity for All Learners does not disappoint. The almost 400-page book (not including the appendix) is filled with brilliance about teaching and literacy instruction. In the book, Regie explores ideas, research, and practical steps that center on creating a learning environment in which all students can thrive and feel empowered.
When I started reading this book in the spring, I immediately enjoyed and connected to Regie's perspective which is smart and sensible. I found myself starring many of her suggested action steps in order to remember which ones I want to set as goals for myself. I am delving into the book again because I am discussing it with a virtual book club community. During the first week of the book club, we read and discussed the section title, "Engagement". Here are some of my takeaways from this first part of the book.
- If we want our schools to be places where all students thrive as literacy learners, we have to engage both, the heart and mind. We reach students' hearts by creating spaces where they feel safe, joyful, and celebrated. We reach students' minds by providing purposeful, relevant, and engaging instruction. Students are empowered when they learn, but also when they have a love for learning.
- Students achieve more when they are involved in instruction that is authentic and meaningful. Allowing students choice, providing authentic audiences, helping students understand the purpose of their learning and make connections, and giving students opportunities to have a voice in their learning optimizes instruction for all students.
- A thriving school culture is one in which there are positive relationships not just between teachers and students, but between the entire school community. Schools should be welcoming places for students, as well as their families. In order to create a positive environment for students, teachers also need to feel safe, trusted, and respected. Students are at the center of the school community, but their sense of well-being and their knowledge that they are cared for depends on an entire school community that is working as a team towards a common goal, the success of its literacy learners.
Next week, I will post my thoughts about the next section of the book, "Excellence". If you are interested in participating in the virtual book club, which will continue through the week of July 15th, join the Literacy Book Club Facebook page.