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Is It Really Sensible to Teach Students to Read Like Historians and Scientists?

Teacher question:

I don’t get the reason for trying to make students read “like historians” or read “like scientists.” Many of my students aren’t likely to even go to college and even if they did they probably won’t be historians or scientists. I understand why it makes sense to teach students how to study a history or a science textbook so they can pass the tests on those, but “read like a…” Why?

Shanahan's response:

Water Words and Watersheds

Anna Faulkner acquired a passion for working with students in 2006 as a teacher at Bingham Academy, an international school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She moved back to the U.S. to earn her Masters of Education in International Education Policy and graduated in May of 2012.

We Are Water Explorers, Raft Builders, and Readers!

Becky Koons is a Senior Resident Services Manager with AHC Inc. at the Woodbury Park Community Center in Arlington, Virginia. AHC’s Summer Camp program is designed to prevent learning loss — a particular challenge for low-income students — through both educational and enrichment experiences.

Adventures of My Summer River Rangers

How can we teach children about one of our most important natural resources? Gaynelle Diaz combines lots of reading with art, hands-on activities, and field trips to jumpstart a summer full of learning about water and our local rivers.

Implementing Higher Literacy Standards or Putting on a Show?

Back in the 1930s, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney always seemed to be putting on a show. They were going to be sent to a farm to work for the summer in Babes in Arms, but they wanted to go to Broadway instead — and they did!

Who Should Teach Disciplinary Literacy and Should We Integrate the Curriculum?

Teacher question:

My question is about disciplinary literacy. Should we be guiding teachers to integrate social studies or science and ELA or having our ELA teachers teaching disciplinary literacy for these subjects? Our curriculum focuses on overarching concepts and essential questions.

Shanahan's response:

You raise two separate issues here: curriculum integration and who has responsibility for the disciplinary literacy standards.

Let me take them one at a time.

Dazed and Confused: The Main Idea of Main Ideas

Teacher question:

Can you explain the difference between central idea, main idea, and theme? There appears to be a lot of confusions with these terms. 

Shanahan’s response:

You’re correct. There is much confusion and disparity in use of the terms central idea, main idea, and theme. And please add topic and topic sentence to that list, too.

On Science Reading, Informational Text, and Reading Pullout Programs

Question:

If You Really Want Higher Test Scores: Rethink Reading Comprehension Instruction

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) began testing fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-graders in 1970 to find out how well American kids could read. NAEP was to evaluate national reading performance twice a decade. The idea wasn’t to provide an estimate of how well each child could read, but simply to index the level of American literacy. In fact, back then NAEP wasn’t even allowed to describe how the individual states were doing; and, at that time no states were evaluating reading.

Boy, have things changed.

Are E-Books a Good Idea for the Science Class?

Teacher question:

 A colleague asked me about using e-books in high school science classes instead of textbooks. I like the idea that e-books might be more current and kids would likely read outside of class if they didn’t have to lug a huge book home. However, I remember reading something about the brain processing the reading of e-books differently than traditional texts. Do you know of any sound research on that?

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"I used to walk to school with my nose buried in a book." — Coolio