Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Topic: Helping Content Teachers Teach Reading

Purpose of this blog: Reviews of interesting ideas in past professional English education journals.

10-second review: Teach the alphabet to facilitate using the index in textbooks and teach the specialized vocabulary of the subject.

Title: “Teaching Teachers to Teach Reading in Secondary School Content Classes.” R. Baird Shuman. Journal of Reading (December 1978), 205-211.

Comment: I always bridle at saying content teachers should teach reading. I believe they should support the students’ reading skills by using the Directed Reading Assignment (DRA) which is designed to help students read difficult textbook material, to help in reading textbook chapters:

Step #1: Build up background information on the topic. The more students know about a topic, the better they will comprehend it. Begin by asking the students what they already know about the topic. I demonstrated to a 9th-grade science teacher how to use the DRA with a chapter on the circulatory system. When I asked the students what they already knew about the topic of the circulatory system, they knew almost everything that was in the chapter.

Step #2: Pre-teach specialized, probably unfamiliar vocabulary that the students will meet in reading the chapter.

Step #3: Survey the chapter. The students read the title, the first and last paragraphs and the first sentence of each intermediate paragraph.

Stop #4: Purpose. Either give the students a purpose for reading or ask the students to ask questions for which they want to find the answers.

Step#5: Discuss the answers they have found in the chapter to their questions

Step #6: Apply the information they have learned.  Have the students apply what they have learned in some way. With the Internet available, they can look up the topic in Google or Bing. They are likely to find interesting additional information on the topic.


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