Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Take your Content to Deeper Levels of Knowledge through Reading

"Points of Entry" (CLICK HERE) by Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher  is a great article for any teacher who wants to make their students better at reading, comprehending and explaining what they have read.  Reading is THE foundational skill for every course, but teaching kids how to read is often relegated to the English teacher.  Kids need more reading instruction than any English teacher can provide, but the solution to this conundrum is not to go out and hire more English teachers.  The answer can be found by providing more reading instruction throughout the day.

If we really want students to be better at our content, then we must ensure that we are making them better readers.  In other words, all teachers must consider how reading is being taught explicitly to their students.  Furthermore, reading instruction is thought of as a silent and individual learning activity, but here's the problem with that philosophy.  How many of us read informational texts in our work and never do anything with it?  Real-world reading requires us to do more than answer multiple choice questions in isolation.  We need to make certain that our instruction mirrors this idea of interactivity.  If we can do that, the multiple choice answers will be answered correctly.

 What I like about this article is that it illustrates the 4 access points of reading:  
  1. Establishing Purpose - "Kids benefit from having a clearly established purpose for learning."
  2. Closed Reading - "A systematic practice of analyzing a text to gain deep comprehension."
  3. Collaborative Conversations - "It's not enough to have students read complex informational texts; they also need time to discuss these texts and interact using academic language."
  4.  Wide Reading - "Ensures that students read enough to build their background knowledge and vocabulary"
Using the 4 entry points of reading, all teachers can better engage all students, which will in turn make  them better readers.  The point of the article is this.  If all students can become better readers, they'll become better at mastering our content.  That is why we can't teach our content apart from reading.  They must intentionally be integrated.

Bonus Video - At the bottom of the article is a great video that shows how a teacher uses these 4 access points to make her students better readers.  Prepare yourself.  It's not a quiet video.

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