There are some of Penny Kittle’s ideas I agree with and some I just can not see eye to eye with. I understand how she has become a revolutionary in the teaching world. No one gets to the top of any field by being completely loved and agreed upon by their peers; it is the competition that creates a “top” to get to in the first place.
Our differences and ability to respectfully disagree with our colleagues create a stronger force. I can see where Kittle is coming from when she says she would like to axe the Accelerated Reader program altogether. it puts en emphasis on on points instead of reading and gives books a material value instead of a literary one. But, she looks past one highly important factor; the way teacher present it. The points are emphasized in a way where they are all that seems important. In my eight years of AR reading, never did a teacher pump us up by explaining how we were going to get to go to different worlds, meet hundreds of new friends, go to any place in the world we wanted and learn about things curriculum skims over, leaving us wanting more. No, they told us how we could earn points that honestly didn’t mean anything except maybe a lame prize from a cardboard treasure box or a certificate printed in the teachers lounge on cardstock from Walgreen’s. I know these comparisons seem long and unnecessary, but that is a reflection of how the teachers explain the program. If points were not the emphasis in the program, it would work in a more efficient manner.
My favorite Penny Kittle moment/lesson of the year was the video we watched her class made about their reading experiences. I have read research articles, case studies, and ideas for changing your class’s perspective on reading, but this video was the eye-opener. Hearing it from the source and the first-hand experiences made everything we had read about it 350% more real. Any teacher can say they “changed a student’s life” or that their entire class “fell in love with reading”, but watching the proof was more relevant than anything else. The best part was there was no magic trick, she just told them to keep reading. Not the classics, not nonfiction, not textbooks, just whatever stories they wanted off the shelf.