Aliteracy (Alliteracy) is the state of being able to read but being uninterested in doing so. This phenomenon has been reported on as a problem occurring separately from illiteracy, which is more common in the developing world, while aliteracy is primarily a problem in the developed world (Roger Cohen, “The Lost Book Generation”, The New York Times, January 6, 1991).
I engaged students at Raul Yzaguirre School for Success (Houston, Texas) via project-based activities that related to Technology Applications standards and the information within the pages of the prescribed textbooks. There is one important thing that I did with the textbooks that I think all teachers should do. I took them through the chapters in procedural ways and via oral quizzes that helped them find information and quickly. This began to combat aliteracy as well, placing students in a situation in which they had to find the information (answer) based on dictation of a particular question. It is amazing how many students could not seem to find the information, even though it was right in front of them. And it wasn’t because they couldn’t read, it was because they didn’t want to read, and they had never been taught or guided on how to use the organizational aspects of textbooks (any book).
I immersed students in various projects that centered around relevance and visualization of content … exciting and motivating for them … and they were also required to do research, which required reading, to support the projects. They took the reading in stride … moved away from their lethargic and alliterate behavior … because of the nature (mode of application) of the projects. Content relevance, hands-on hardware/software and the anticipation of “product” (end result) were motivating factors in combatting aliteracy amongst the student population.
Several project examples … via links … follow:
Response – Gay Marriage: http://tomrchambers.com/gay_m.html
Gun Violence in Schools: http://tomrchambers.com/gv_bro_8.html
Dear Newtown: http://tomrchambers.com/newtown.html
Hispanic Heritage Month: http://tomrchambers.com/hhm_7_12.html
Core Values: http://tomrchambers.com/vocab_cv.html
9/11 Tribute: http://tomrchambers.com/911_7_12-13.html
and the project list goes on at http://tomrchambers.com/RYSS_TCCC.html
Of course, another positive aspect of the projects process was the fact that the students were also combatting illiteracy by doing a great deal of writing in response to their findings. Again, the students took participation and contribution in stride due to how the curriculum was delivered.