14 September 2010

Content Area Reading

“This I believe about teaching Content Area Reading” is the prompt to which I am supposed to respond.  At first glance, this seems quite easy, but after giving it some careful thought, it may not be such a small task. Nevertheless, I shall respond to the prompt and I shall share everything I think about the topic. What I believe about teaching Content Area Reading follows: it is a skill that should be practiced by every student. Not only that, it should be a skill that is taught by every teacher. Prior to this class, I did not think it was my job to teach students how to read. I did not think it was my responsibility to teach it. However, as a real example of how my teaching has changed, today I gave students a bellringer that was a simple logic problem. In the problem, there were clues about the names of 4 people, how they fared in playing some board games (i.e. 1st place, 2nd place, etc.), and what their ages were. These clues were bunched together in a large paragraph of text.  A paragraph that on first glance was a bit overwhelming to students and several of them let me know this fact, in no uncertain terms.

But alas! I had a solution: a graphic organizer! Specifically, I encouraged students to use a chart to organize their data and as a way to interact with the text. I instructed them to read the text carefully and begin to mark of things in the chart they knew were false. At some point, they were able to begin marking facts they knew were true! Eventually, we were able to determine everything we wanted to know about the 4 people and students were able to practice integrating a graphic organizer into their interaction with the text. This is a single example of how I have changed my thinking. I used to think students should already know about using graphic organizers. But, they do not! It is my job to teach them and I intend to do just that.
I also believe teaching Content Area Teaching is a skill that everyone can and should implement into their classroom. Students were receptive to the strategy I used in class. In fact, I think some of my students even enjoyed it! I am not sure the idea of every teacher doing this is something that will revolutionize education, although I do believe that it could. There are too many teachers who do not have buy in to the idea. I can honestly say I was one of those teachers who did not buy into the idea just six short weeks ago. However, after some instruction and learning few strategies, I feel confident that I will be able to implement this in my classroom and be successful with it.
While I do not see this as a practice that will be in every classroom, it is my sincere desire that I can somehow influence teachers to adopt this practice into their practice. Teachers across all curriculum areas would benefit, due to the simple fact that everyone of them has a text and students would get more out of any text interaction if the students were taught a few basic skills to help them be more effective when reading. If you are wondering whether I plan to continue suing these strategies, rest assured I already know what my Bellwork question is going to be tomorrow: a logic problem that is best solved using a graphic organizer!

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