Award-winning books found in bookstores are choices that cannot go wrong.
So says visiting educator Dr. Daisy Lu as she shares her insights on how to teach reading effectively with teachers of Immaculate Conception Academy and graduating education majors of the University of Santo Tomas.
Cultivate good reading by exposing children to good books with multicultural backgrounds. The test of a good book lies firstly in the written language, according to Lu. In addition, the character develops. So does the plot. The author shows his/her message as the story unfolds and does not tell it, she says.
“When it comes to reading, motivation of children should be to the point of making the children reach the highest level of efficacy,” says the education specialist with at least four decades of teaching experience in the United States.
“Work at his/her highest potential. Try to raise the bar. Do not just have children emerge as simply good at repeating after you. Bring in the arts: Music, drama, poetry and storytelling.”
Gone are the days of just requiring children as readers to write book reports afterwards, she says, citing the American experience. Other activities requiring children to think creatively and even design, like producing a small play, have taken over. Teaching reading today is just like the Dalcroze method of teaching music, calling for improvisation all the time, she adds.
Nurture curiosity, Lu says. Letting growth prevail over security has to be encouraged. Having the courage to take risks takes the learner farther.
“Autonomy helps push children,” Dr. Lu tells her audience. “Give them freedom in putting together a play inspired by a storybook and they will achieve their goal with amazing results. Everyone wants to feel he or she is making a choice.”
Also important is openness toward what the kids can come up with. Their imaginative power goes to work. Wonderful ideas do surface.
“Charlotte’s Web,” a best-selling children’s book about friendship, was once turned into an entertaining play complete with music by her grade school class. The art teacher helped create the costumes for the spider and the pig, for example. Lu, who has music training, handled the music for the small production.
Critical thinking involving strategies has to be kept in mind when teaching. Teaching pedagogy by scaffolding means knowing how to zoom in by asking questions to keep stimulating more questions, according to the visiting lecturer from Seattle, Washington.
Lu describes a good reader as a person who shows selective attention. He does not read everything. He has self-regulation and demonstrates discipline. Metacognition is another indication of a good reader. This is “knowledge about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or for problem solving.”
Content knowledge when teaching has to be advanced, she tells local teachers. Language and reading teachers should work with other teachers like those in science to improve a child’s learning, according to her. She says she herself has never stopped learning, enrolling in diverse courses in the university and traveling extensively to enrich her own knowledge.
Lu has a doctorate degree in Cognitive Psychology, Socio-Psycholinguistics, Literacy Development and Bilingual-Multicultural Education from the University of Washington.
She was a K-12 teacher and principal in Seattle before deciding to focus on teaching at the university level.
E-mail Dr. Lu at [email protected]