About Colette Bennett

Colette Marie Bennett is the Curriculum Coordinator for English Language Arts, Social Studies, Library Media, and Testing for the West Haven Public School System in West Haven, Connecticut. Previous to this position, she served as the Chief Academic Officer (7-12) for Regional School System #6 in Litchfield, Connecticut. She has 23 years of teaching experience in English Language Arts from grades 6-12, including electives in journalism, drama, and film studies. A graduate of the Alternate Route to Certification, Bennett also has a Masters in English from Western Connecticut State University a 6th year in Advanced Teaching and an 092 Administrative Certificate from Sacred Heart University, and graduate credits from the GLSP in Social Studies at Wesleyan University. She holds a Literacy Certification (102) from Sacred Heart University for grades K-12. She has presented how technology is incorporated in classrooms at the Connecticut Computers in Education Conference (2010, 2012, 2014), the National Council of Teachers Annual Conference (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015), and the Advanced Placement Annual Conference (2011) the Literacy for All Conference (2012), and the ICT for Language Learning in Florence, Italy (2014). She blogs about education at Used Books in Class: http://usedbookclassroom.wordpress.com/ She tweets at Teachcmb56@twitter.com

readicideReadicide is defined as, “the systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices often found in schools.” I fear I was a Readicide practitioner in my early years of teaching, but I am now trying to recover and adopt practices suggested in Kelly Gallagher’s book Readicide.

Gallagher points to a crisis in America’s schools that we experience in our classrooms at Wamogo.  Our students do not read well; our test scores (recently released) are low. My English Department members hear all the time, “I hate to read” or “This book is too hard” or “I don’t have time.”

Readicide advocates for student choice in reading.

Readicide (160 pages) was published by Stenhouse Publishers in 2009 and has been influential in many discussion on educational reform. Gallagher recognizes several factors have contributed to the reading crisis. One of these factors he discusses under the heading “There is a Dearth of Interesting Reading Materials in Our Schools.” In this section, Gallagher poses the following questions:|

-Shouldn’t schools be the places where students interact with interesting books?

-Shouldn’t the faculty have on-going, laser-like commitment to put good books in our students’ hands?

-Shouldn’t this be a front-burner issue at all times?

Gallagher advocates for interesting materials saying, “Let me be clear: if we have any chance at developing a reading habit in our students, they must be immersed in a K-12 ‘book flood’-a term coined by researcher Warwick Elley (1991). Students must have ready access to a wide range of reading materials. This goal should be the priority of every faculty….We must start all discussions about the state of reading on our campuses with a simple, direct question: do our students have ample access to high-interest reading materials?

Do our students have ample access to high-interest reading materials? Click To Tweet

As the English Department chair, I have purchased a number of titles in the secondary market through public library book sales and thrift stores (further explained in blog: http://usedbooksinclass.com/about/). In two years, English Department classroom libraries over 200 titles to our collection; some in small sets of three copies and other sets with as many as 60 copies. Members of the English Department will continue to teach “core texts”, but we offer independent reading books as well. We organized titles by theme and now let a student choose which book he or she would like to read. We have noted that our students are more enthused -and therefore more likely to finish – when they select a text. We now organize literature circles around student book choice….and we are offering more and more choice in a cost-effective way by using used books. We are changing how we teach and what we teach in order to stop the practice of “

We have noted that our students are more enthusiastic-and therefore more likely to finish – when they select a text. We now organize literature circles around student book choice….and we are offering more and more choice in a cost-effective way by using used books. We are changing how we teach and what we teach in order to stop the practice of “readicide“. We hope that others will too!

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