ADORE: How to effectively improve adolescents' reading skills.
The ADORE project was initiated by Prof. Christine Garbe and a team from the Leuphana University of Lueneburg (Germany) which invited reading experts from 11 European countries to investigate examples of good reading instruction in secondary schools in all parts of Europe. PISA's top-ranking Finland, with only 4.8% risk students (PISA, 2006), was represented just as was Europe's lowest ranking country, Romania, with 53% students at risk (PISA, 2006). As a result of an extensive collection of qualitative data and local studies, the ADORE consortium has published its research results including 13 key elements of good practice in teaching, school programs and education policies(50 KB), each of which are illustrated by examples. An 18-page summary of the results ("Executive Summary") is available in German and English at www.adore-project.eu. An additional result of the project is the foundation of the "Adolescent Literacy Network", which supports numerous activities as documented on its website www.alinet.eu.
The project has been important in fostering European understanding and cooperation in the field of literacy and reading instruction. Romanian teacher Brandusa Cherlariu for example had the opportunity to work with literacy specialists in other countries, and discover new teaching methods first-hand.Senior Finnish university researcher Sari Sulkunen was able to better understand different educational cultures, and to establish a network of similar-minded academics from across Europe.
The ADORE Book1is a guide for educational leaders, policy makers, school administrators, principals and teachers which can effectively and sustainably improve the teaching of reading within PISA risk groups (while simultaneously benefitting non-risk groups).
The key conclusions of the ADORE project are:
- Fostering reading skills is a task for all subjects at all levels of schooling.
- Fostering reading skills should target the entire student personality; isolated reading promotion or training programs are insufficient. Crucial is changing the self-perception of struggling readers regarding their ability to read and learn. Positive experiences in reading and understanding texts will improve self-confidence and lead to motivated reading. The development of a positive reading self-concept is therefore the superior goal of all measures to promote reading and the core of the ADORE philosophy.
- Educational systems based on the principle of support (supportive systems) are in general more effective in their ways of reading instruction than performance-oriented educational systems (selective systems).
- If teachers, regardless of the subject, want to effectively support poor students in improving their reading skills, then they themselves need support first: through qualified teacher education and continuing training, from committed school management and principals, multi-professional support teams in schools (school psychologists, reading specialists, social workers etc.), experts engaged in practice-relevant research and knowledge transfer, through communities and especially an education policy that makes the appropriate legal and financial resources available.
- Deficits in reading literacy among adolescents can only be handled effectively by high-quality teaching: Improving teaching is one of the main goals of the ADORE study. The ADORE Reading Instruction Cycle(22 KB) presents an alternative to traditional teaching: Its basic principles are (a) the continuous diagnosis of students' abilities as a starting point for planning learning processes and (b) the involvement of students in the definition of learning objectives, in the selection of reading materials, in the development of reading strategies, and in monitoring their own success. The teacher acts as a "competent other" who accompanies students into their "zone of proximal development" (Vygotsky), while providing advice and support, but also challenges his students to take them to their individual limits.
- The most significant success factor in a process of continuous reading training in all school subjects is a highly developed teacher expertise that is built up in pre-service teacher training and backed up by continuous in-service teacher training. Today, in general, even teachers of mother-tongue lessons lack sufficient knowledge of current instructional methods in the field of reading, while teachers of other subjects didn´t study this subject at all. Urgent action must be taken to develop systematic teacher training for optimal (subject-specific) reading instruction. In an effort to achieve this goal, Christine Garbe and Karl Holle have initiated a new EU project: BaCuLit2is developing a modularized core curriculum for interdisciplinary training in reading instruction in all content areas for European teachers. Seven European countries and two U.S. experts are involved in this project which was launched in January 2011.
For further information, see:
Garbe, Christine; Holle, Karl; Weinhold, Swantje (Eds.) (2010): Teaching Struggling Adolescent Readers in European Countries. Key Elements of Good Practice. Frankfurt/M. u.a.: Peter Lang
2 "Basic Curriculum for Teachers' In-service Training in Content Area Literacy in Secondary Schools", Comenius Multilateral Projects, additional information: www.baculit.eu