Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Bowl: Encouragement or Discouragement?

First, a little gloating about my daughter. Today her Book Bowl team competed in our county's Book Bowl competition. They finished third out of thirty-two teams and my daughter performed expertly!

For her, competing in the Book Bowl competition was an outstanding experience, something she worked hard for and excelled in, as she is smart, finds reading easy, and thrives on competition.

But, what about the other students that didn't compete?

Today about 200 fifth grade students from 32 elementary schools competed. These schools have over 3,200 fifth graders. Less than 7% of the available fifth graders competed today.

What about the other 93%?

Did we encourage them to read?

In my mind (fingers crossed) this competition was most likely started to encourage students to read. However, over the last 20+ years it has evolved into a pure competition. Students have to read 30 books and "try out" to be part of these teams. Besides a select few, who does this motivate?

An aside: All the questions are of course low level recall questions.

In my humble opinion, the schools could do more to encourage all readers.  The question is how? If they want to keep the Book Bowl format, should they set up school Book Bowls where taking part in the competition is an expectation? Do we set up a day of just reading in a relaxed environment, where reading is the expectation?

What should we do to encourage the reluctant readers and the below grade level readers?

If the goal is to encourage reading, the Book Bowl is an utter failure, except for those exceptional few. If the goal is to show that my school is better than your school, complete success!

A little harsh? perhaps?
Cynical? A little?
Did my daughter have a good time? Yes, she loved every minute of the Book Bowl competition!

Her smile said it all!

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