June is the end of the school year, time for me to clean out my classroom, and through the cleaning process, reflect on the school year. I think about what were the successful classroom activities and assessments that my students completed? What lessons can I revise? What can I do better for next year?
Looking through some teaching notebook, I came across my notes from 2010 workshop on literacy in the content areas I attended at Teachers College, Columbia University. The keynote speaker, Dr. Hubert Dyasi, science education professor at City University of New York spoke about science as inquiry, not something that is done in solitary confinement. He defined “inquiry” as the gateway to scientific study of the phenomena of nature. The idea behind his presentation was to cultivate and nourish student curiosity and a sense of wonder.
This idea is not just specific to science educators, the idea of cultivating student curiosity applies to all content areas whether you teach social studies, English, or math. All teachers want to foster a sense of wonder and make real world connections with their content. When we look closer at each content area, the skills that educators want students to obtain are the same, it is the class material that differs.
What reading skills do we use across the content areas?
Connect to prior knowledge
Supporting claims and providing evidence
Building vocabulary in content
Cause and effect
Retelling in our own words
Across the content areas all teachers need to focus on reading to help students learn to read and understand class materials. Teaching reading should not go away in upper elementary and middle school. And yet, students are doing most of their reading in these grades at home and on their own. Teachers need to bring back reading in their classroom and help students understand, interpret, and analyze multiple texts.
As I look ahead to another school year I think about ways to strengthen students’ reading comprehension and understanding. I want my students to own the information being taught, pursue their questions that arise from learning, and give a real purpose to the projects they create.