Are you teaching your students to read?
Of course you are, but are you teaching them to read effectively for information?
Will your PK-5th grade students be ready for the demands of intermediate grades or life beyond the classroom?
How do your elementary students measure up when exposed to textbooks to reference materials and to nonfiction trade books to research texts?
Can they access information effectively?
Do they experience active student engagement and understanding?
Do they comprehend specialized vocabulary and core concepts and can they develop them more fully?
Can they synthesize the information to make meaning?
Elementary students need effective informational literacy instruction in order to develop their cognitive and linguistic abilities. The explicit teaching of reading, listening, speaking, and writing, when integrated across all content areas, can impact lifelong learning significantly while providing ample opportunities for academic and social success.
- Allyn (2014) says, “Literacy is more relevant to more people in more ways than ever before in human history …. High-level literacy skills also lead to a more educated citizenry – people who know what and whom they are voting for and what constitute the rules of their society.” (Allyn, pg. 10).Some ways I exposed my students to reading everyday:
- I made sure that my library was well stocked with various genres.
- I had colorful and visually appealing posters about my library that explained, in kid-friendly terms, the different genres available to them.
- I provided a form for students to keep a running record of the types of genres they read.
- I would read WITH them – daily! Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) time. I lived for that 20-30-minute time every day when I could take a break and read what I wanted and at the same time model reading a wide range of material.
- I thought I was reflecting real-life reading, but I needed more engaging and developmentally appropriate reading activities and lessons that would build vocabulary and background knowledge.
- I needed activities that required students to ask questions about the text, explore text features, categorize information, and etc.
- We needed to dissect newspaper articles and read letters from faraway places and write replies.
- I had heard rumblings from middle school teachers that incoming elementary students were ill-prepared for informational text; but I thought I was covering all the bases – I was not!
- I had taught my students to read, but I had not taught my students how to read for information; and the middle school teachers made us elementary teachers acutely aware of this.
Take-Away: There is a place for fiction; there is an equal place for non-fiction. Students should be encouraged and taught to read non-fiction from a young age. Your role as a teacher is to facilitate interactive literacy experiences as well as provide explicit literacy instruction. There are plenty of tools/strategies that can be used to teach informational text and you will explore many of them; but for now, we are going to explore and investigate the strategy and processes of text-mapping…
Come back next week and we’ll look at text-mapping and learn how to teach it to your PK-5th graders!