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Reading Rainbow: TNG


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LeVar Burton is heading a KickStarter project to bring 90s children's television program Reading Rainbow forward into the 21st century. This show was one of my favorites when I was a kidâ??a close second to Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?â??and I would love to see other kids enjoying it as much as I did.

The project has already (and easily) reached its stated fund goal, but I'm still thinking strongly about supporting it myself, if only because I remember those old Brought To You By prefaces on each show that always ended with "...and by viewers like you".

What about you? Do you also have fond memories of the show? Did the thread title immediately get that theme song playing in your head? What authors did you discover that you might not have if you hadn't seen them there?
Edited by Allamorph
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Reading Rainbow was a kids show on PBS hosted by LeVar Burton of StarTrek: TNG fame, whose sole purpose was to promote reading to primary school children.  From what I remember, each show would take a few books, tie them together with an applicable theme, and read excerpts from the stories, often animated.  That was the whole show.  Really absurdly simple, when you read it like that, but its only aims were the promotion of children's literacy and the encouragement of imaginative growth.
It's ... I dunno.  It's like Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, I think.  It's a grown adult just talking to kids, not as though they're incapable of understanding the world, but as if they matter and have thoughts of their own.  There was no false excitement, no "dumbing down", like many of the shows I see now.  It was intelligent, but still on a level approachable to children.
LeVar hosted it for years, too.  It started airing in 1983, I think, a few years before I was born, and I remember seeing on PBS through high school.  Apparently they stopped filming it in 2006 (when I graduated), and ran reruns until 2009.  That's twenty-three years of hosting the same show.  And now he wants to bring it back.  The man is dedicated.

Here is the theme to the show, which I could still sing to this day.


Edited by Allamorph
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SOMEONE with a username of DeathKnight-ish kinda of thing taught middle school English in a charter school district in San Antonio with a low-SES community. I mean, low-SES might be when all of your lunches are provided by the local San Antonio Food Bank. I dunno, I might be judgmental since I brought my own lunch. I did go down into the cafeteria at the school and eat the leftover meals from the food bank (hey, snack time!), but, really, I'm not sure you could judge me on that. The meat was pretty tough. I left bad reviews for the cauliflower on yelp â?? kinda of a white, chewy paste kind of vegetable, that cauliflower. Why the kids didn't eat it? I dunno, the paste flavor was endearing to me.
Now, what he (DeathDude) told me was that the classroom sizes were pretty outlandish with 28 average per period. There might have been a day when someone was out of the classroom where class sizes suddenly fattened up to 35+ for three 90 minute periods. I mean, taking first person over for him, there might not have been enough desks for the students in the portable I was assigned to. The good news is that, on that day, I had a pretty engaging worksheet on prepositional and adverb agreement to give them. It was pretty bland compared to the day that I was assigned ethos, pathos, and logos curriculum to teach a bunch of sixth graders. That was a more fun day. I mean, what is more accessible to low-SES students than learning methods of argument in essay form before they can write a five paragraph, crappy essay?
Loving reading though, or teaching a love of reading â?? well, that's not something you can grade on a metric. You can't really get a good budget off of a student's love of reading â?? you could grade them on the reading comprehension, their aptitude for dealing with definitions of parts of speech, or their identification of grammar. You don't really mind if they like to read; they just should. They should know, from a love of reading and inculcating them in numerous drills, what reading really is. It's something you reward them for (accelerated reader), but you don't teach them for since AR scores don't matter to the state.
Reading Rainbow is a supplemental teaching aid from the past that is sorely needed. It's an app or a slideshow or a video that is refreshing. It can bring into a classroom a realm of active teaching that isn't encouraged or needed by most state standards. You don't need students to love reading or understand fiction â?? not with the popularity of standards similar to the Common Core (hey, buddy! phantom of the tollbooth and the hunger games is pretty neat! now, more importantly, let's read a five paragraph essay about Thanksgiving, printed and copied just for you!). Reading is for digesting, regurgitating, and owning information.
I donated to the RR to kick start it. I had a single half bookshelf of nonfiction literature to offer my students. Me? My downtown was a short story collection by Flannery O'Connor. It wasn't the same non-ficition DISCOVER X books for Japan, China, or Africa they had to read day-to-day over and over. Fiction re-read takes you to a different place. I t
hink they deserve a more involved, active approach to fiction that captures their attention in a way that meeting requirements can't. It's an approach that isn't me leading a bunch of eighth graders in a collective, boring reading of 'The Outsiders.' I'd want an episode with a view into 1950s America, an idea of what cliques at the time they were born really meant, and the real smell or feel of the greasers.

In the section above, what was the main argument of DeathKnight?
Did he:
A. Want to have more active teaching and involvement of fiction in the classroom across the United States
B. Express disappointment with Texas' recent changes in the classroom and what needs to be done for Texas to involve fiction in reading.
C. Tell you a bit about teaching in Texas and his frustration teaching there
D. Let you know about the class sizes he taught in a low-SES charter school

Taking it away:
Reading this, did you find a strong agreement with:
A. An argument for less class sizes
B. An argument expressing the problems with current English curriculum in the United States
C. An argument about how good the flavor of paste is
D. An argument for Reading Rainbow's kickstarter and their goals
DeathKnight in this post said that â??he taught in a middle school English Charter school district. . . with a low-SES community.â?From that sentence, did you infer:
A. DeathKnight can only teach in districts that serve a low-SES community.
B. DeathKnight posts a great deal about low-SES communities.
C. A low-SES community is primarily full of middle schools.
D. DeathKnight taught in a low-SES district.
In the next chapter, you will read about other teachers such as DeathKnight who express similar opinions. Opinions are not factual and based entirely on the recollection, understanding, or emotions of the person giving them. An opinion you might have experienced might be like this: â??Jeez, Judy, everyone knows that Main Street Pizza is the worst pizza in town,â? said Tom.
What in Tom's statement was factual? What could you disagree with? Did Tom provide any evidence that he know much about pizza?
Write to Tom a disagreement about his opinion of pizza. Include no opinions of your own but focus on arguments that show that Tom is expressing merely something from his own point of view that is not universal or felt by all people. A minimum of two five-sentence paragraphs is needed.

Edited by DeathKnight
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  • 3 weeks later...
I loved Reading Rainbow when I was a kid! I didn't know he was in Trek until years later. My fiancée and I had the privilege to meet him and get his autograph a few years ago. With my fiancée being Vietnamese, he chose a book that Burton had read during the show that had something to do with Asians....it was pretty funny.
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