The following is part of an online article by Jamie McKenzie, a technology guru of international scope.

—– Power Reading and the School Library —–

Should the media specialist be the most capable teacher of comprehension in the school?

I. The Comprehension—-Literacy Link

While we have always known that a thriving library program is central to the success of a school’s reading and learning programs, “The times, they are a-changing,” as Dylan would put it. What once was central is now urgent.

NCLB has created a cocktail of pressures, risks and opportunities that impact dramatically on the roles of media specialists. The LMS is now a critical factor in a school’s survival, especially as the staff works to strengthen reading comprehension across all classrooms and disciplines.

If the teacher-librarian becomes the most capable teacher of comprehension skills in the school, the prospects for a strong school and a thriving library program are enhanced dramatically, especially when the teacher-librarian has the ability to transfer skill and effective practice to all colleagues. The teacher-librarian promotes, models and empowers the success of all in making comprehension a school priority.

We are now capitalizing upon a natural match between the information literacy goals of Information Power and the comprehension needs of the school. The notion that reading comprehension is tied to information literacies is relatively novel, since the two have been treated as nearly separate domains in the past, but we can no longer afford such an artificial separation.

Literacy is about wrestling understanding from chunks of information, whether those chunks be numerical, textual, visual, cultural or artistic. Comprehension, on the other hand, has traditionally been more narrowly defined as the understanding of paragraphs and passages; but a marriage of the two seems well timed as the NCLB testing juggernaut thunders across the nation.

Note: While this article was originally written for an American audience, the themes should resonate elsewhere as politicians in lands such as Australia toy with the idea of imitating the NCLB annual testing model and dream of imposing nationally-dictated educational systems on schools everywhere.

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