A middle school reading coach asks if it is important for African American children to read African American literature. Alfred Tatum, author of Engaging African American Males in Reading, shares his thoughts.
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.
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.
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.
While I encourage, and even require, oral reading instruction in middle schools, I don’t countenance round robin. Engage your kids in paired reading and they’ll get much more oral reading practice than in the round robin approach.
First, make sure the kids know what you are up to, that they have English dictionaries, and that they recognize what the challenge is. Rereading and background knowledge are particularly important scaffolds.
Oral sharing and video and audio presentations have their place in the high school English curriculum. But it is a small place, so teachers need to be honest with themselves as to why they are using those approaches.
Only part of guided reading is under challenge by Common Core. Small group instruction should afford teachers opportunities to observe student problems with reading and interpretation, and this insight should be used to shape instruction.