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WatchMECreate Challenge #2 – WatchMERead

Several years ago I did some tutoring for Literacy Volunteers of Maine. The student assigned to me was a man in his 30s who had dropped out of school in 9th grade and had limited reading and writing skills. He asked for a tutor because he was involved in litigation and could not read the legal papers his attorney was sending him. As I worked with him for the next few years, I was struck by how intelligent he was but how his low literacy level limited his choices in life. He had never had a checking account because he did not know how to read or write number words. He was trying to start an auto repair business but he had difficulty reading the repair manuals and writing invoices. He could not get a job working for someone else because he could not fill out an application or write a resume. One of his goals was to get his motorcycle license, but he was afraid of the written test and did not want to request a reader as he had done to get his driver’s license. Over the course of our time together he gained some basic skills and he did open a checking account, create a resume, and get a job in a garage, but I couldn’t help wondering how his life would have been different if he had learned to read earlier.

NASA Technicians Reading

NASA photo: Technicians read a manual on the Payload Ground-Handling Mechanism hook instrumentation unit.

As educators we are well aware of the importance of reading in all aspects of our lives, but how aware are our students? The current challenge at WatchMeCreate is designed to inspire students to investigate the importance of reading in our society and answer this question: “What would it take so that everyone, when asked, ‘Are you a reader?’ would say, ‘Of course I am…’?”  Student teams will, as with the earlier challenge, produce a short video (no longer than two minutes) that presents their response to this question. The deadline for submission to the WatchMERead challenge is February 18.

Almost every school in Maine has some kind of literacy initiative in place where teachers ask themselves this same question – “What will it take?” Maybe now it’s time to ask the students.

Here are some resources that you can share with your students to get them started.

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