Don’t Forget: We’re Reading to WriteJune 21, 2009 at 10:26 am | Posted in uncategorized | 3 Comments
(Post authored by Jane Lungershausen)
In regards to strategies, methods, and lessons revolving around content area reading, we’ve learned quite a bit in this class. I had no idea there were so many creative ways to introduce students to reading, help them during reading, and ask them to recall what they’ve already read, all to help them better understand the big picture and key topics. Many of these strategies I foresee myself using in my own classroom. We have also looked at a sampling of different texts (namely books) that we might be interested in reading with our classes. Our text, Subjects Matter, also offers an extensive list of books that have been successfully used in other classrooms. It is almost overwhelming, the variety of choices there are out there. How are we, as content area teachers, to pick out the best texts to use in our classrooms? While a book may have worked for one teacher, it may not work as well for the next. How do we know the book we choose is the best one for our class at that time?
I do not have an answer for this, but Angela Maiers’ blog post on New Relationships with Content shows us how our students react to content area reading. After asking a group of students what they thought was involved in content readings, many responded, “”facts to be memorized,” “vocabulary to be defined,” and strategies to “remember EVERYTHING to pass the test!”” We don’t want our students to think like this every time they are asked to read something. So, we have to better prepare ourselves. Take a look at the list Angela provides in her blog, which she borrowed from Rajesh Setty. This list compiles many different methods people (and students) use when reading content. When choosing a text for our classes, we can use this list to consider whether one is suitable or not. We can ask ourselves: Will my students view this as spam, or will they stop, shift, or maybe even subscribe to it?
After we successfully choose, read, and reflect on our text, why not have the kids write about it, using this same set of principles? Aside from the RAFTS assignment, we haven’t talked much about writing activities in this class, but literacy is actually defined as the ability to read and write. Will Richardson cites a powerful quote from Deborah Brandt in his recent blog post about writing on the internet:
Some of the resistance to a more writing-centered curriculum, she says, is based on the view that writing without reading can be dangerous because students will be untethered to previous thought, and reading levels will decline. But that view, she says, is “being challenged by the literacy of young people, which is being developed primarily by their writing. They’re going to be reading, but they’re going to be reading to write, and not to be shaped by what they read.
Reading and writing are co-pilots that work together in literacy. Why, then, don’t we promote more extensive writing activities rather than just focus on reading strategies?