I suspect that our kids would read better if they knew more, so expanding kids’ knowledge of the world very well might promote higher literacy. I also suspect that knowing more about the world will foster curiosity, adventure, a greater sense of community, environmental responsibility, health, patriotism, and even, healthy skepticism — so it definitely isn’t all about reading.
For those of you upset about literature being dropped from the English curriculum, you might want to read this lovely piece written by my friend, Carol Jago. She knows something about the teaching of literature and I think you’ll find her insights helpful.
Students seem to do better when they get a steady diet of more challenging text, but there is also the widespread belief that there is an optimum difficulty level for texts used to teach students to read.
A new study indicates that it is not beneficial for most students (English learners are one exception), to shift to easier texts to facilitate their reading — as long as you are ready to provide instructional support.
Disciplinary literacy refers to the specialized or somewhat unique texts or text features in those texts that are the province of a particular field of study and the specialized approaches to reading and writing texts used by experts in a field of study.
Disciplinary literacy is based upon the idea that literacy and text are specialized, and even unique, across the disciplines. Historians engage in very different approaches to reading than mathematicians do, for instance.
I want kids to be close readers … I think teachers should strive to accomplish the standards their states have established. But take a gimlet-eyed look at what it is that you are teaching. Is it really close reading?
Meta-analyses indicate that it is effective to teach kids about multiple text structures, and that text structure instruction is particularly potent when writing, graphic organizers, and guidance on watching for “clue words” are included.
Strategy use only makes sense when success isn’t certain. Teaching students to use strategies with relatively easy texts neither lets them see how to use the strategy nor reveals to them the power that it can provide.
For those kids who need basic decoding instruction, targeted interventions are important. But for the others, teach reading using the books those students need to read in their other classes. That approach simultaneously builds reading skills, improves content learning, and increases academic confidence.