After reading Aukerman’s article “Why Do You Say Yes to Pedro, but Not to Me?” Toward a Critical Literacy of Dialogic Engagement, I have come to realize that I have not been helping students become critically literate readers.
I have noticed that I focus a lot of attention to the mechanics of reading and the comprehension skills we all teach: summarizing, main idea, inferring, retelling, etc. There is a deeper element to my teaching that is both powerful….and missing.
This element can be taught through thoughtful selection of texts and activities. I can teach the main idea while focusing on deeper aspects of the text and allowing students to examine the text in a more thoughtful way. This will allow me to teach life skills, character development, and help students have a critical mindset in conjunction with academic skills.
Critical literacy is teaching children to think for themselves, to examine the gray areas of the world around them, to gather information and make their own informed judgements about things they interact with in their daily lives.
In my classroom I feel as though I have done a poor job teaching students how to be critically literate. To understand that not everything they see or hear is correct. To view topics, people, problems, and situations from multiple perspectives.
The article suggests that teachers should promote critical literacy through “dialogic engagement.” Aukerman’s example of second graders discussing a question one student had about the book reminded me of my classroom in a way. However, instead of seeing them discuss the book in a thoughtful way, I would see that type of discussion as off topic because they were not discussing the skill we were learning.
I now see the importance of allowing students to freely engage with the text in a variety of ways, to form their own judgements about text and to discuss their thoughts with others with the goal of refining their opinions, interacting with others, and engaging with the text.