#EveryDayinMay - So What Are You Really Reading?

Don't laugh, but I actually took a book with me for the backpacking extravaganza this weekend. I also took a journal. It was waterproof, you guys. I mean, talk about dedication to my craft. Let's take a moment to admire my preparation, shall we?

No, really. Picture it. Me in the brilliant green forest, surrounded by doting little woodland friends, quietly reading and penning my genius thoughts into a journal as a soft morning rain shower covers everything in a gentle glow.

Yeah. Except, no.

So I wasn't absorbed in a rich work of literary text this weekend. Nor did I create any wilderness-inspired poetry. The most creativity I was able to muster was narrating my travels as an inner-monologue as I considered how I would write about it later. Even that took some effort.

I did this while shuffling across rocky trails, stepping across fallen trees and overgrown brush, and generally tripping my way toward the finish line.

There was plenty of reading, however. Much of our time was spent attempting to decipher which trail to follow as we moved deeper into the woods and away from society, so brushing up on my map skills was a necessity! I am now a much better topographic map reader, and can even untangle a maze of equestrian trails on a trail map if needed. These aren't skills I ever thought would be particularly important for me, and yet having the ability to analyze all those little squiggles and shaded spots on the map became vitally important late Sunday afternoon as our water supply ran low on a poorly marked trail.

The Trail Angel that gave us the equestrian trail map scoffed at our topo map,
saying it was nice, but hers could save a life. I'm apt to agree.
I was struck by how this type of reading might not typically be considered actual reading, but I applied many of the same skills we ask our young readers to use when analyzing a text. The first time I looked at the topo map, I noticed only the superficial -- the trail I intended to follow, the miles to each waypoint, and any water sources along the way. Once we were actually on the trail, I had new questions. I needed to pay attention to other trails that intersected my trail, to make sure I didn't accidentally end up on the wrong path. Elevation became important when we did end up off-trail, due to some important information we didn't find out until we were halfway into our hike: a fire and recent tornadoes had obliterated a part of the trail. There was a poorly marked detour, and that's where the second map came into play. Now we had two maps (or texts) to compare, from which we needed to draw knowledge. Not much different from students that analyze different texts to draw comparisons and conclusions.

In the end, we wouldn't have been able to make it out of the forest and onto a road if it weren't for our ability to read, reread, and compare our two maps very closely. These are skills I gained as a reader, that became essentially lifesaving outside the academic arena. More on that later this week!

Who knew close reading could potentially save a life, or that I would end up with a story to share in the classroom when a student asks, "Okay, but when will I ever use this in my real life?"

No comments:

Post a Comment