513 – Reading to Learn

This week, we focused on Flint Ch. 11, titled, “Reading to Learn:  Using Nonfiction and Electronic Media to Support Literacy Development.”  I was interested to read this chapter and see how teachers can effectively use texts and resources other than fiction to reach their students.

I was particularly struck by the comment, “Children are more deeply engaged in their work when the work isn;t broken up into small time clocks for different subjects (324).”  I don’t believe I have ever seen a classroom that wasn’t bound by a strict schedule, either mandated by the principal or the teachers themselves.  It makes sense that students will ask more cross-discipline questions in settings that aren’t bound by titles such as “Math” or “Reading time.”  This idea, howerer, seems quite unreasonable to me.  Teachers must follow a schedule to keep the kids on a routine and to make sure they allot the appropriate amount of time and attention to all of the different subjects.

It was interesting to learn what exactly constitutes a true inquiry-based curriculum.  Many of the components we have been learning about in our education classes as “best practices” that we should implement in our classrooms anyway.

Again, I enjoyed the Invitation to the Classroom boxes and the other ideas scattered throughout the chapter.  That is one of my favorite aspects of the Flint text…all of the examples of how to make the information real in your classroom! 

I have seen the idea of using “twin texts” in my placement classroom.  The students were learning about fiction and nonfiction, and they went to the library and found fiction and nonfiction books on the same topic.  Then they read their selections individually and compared and contrasted them in their reading journals.  I think this is a great strategy for reading all sorts of texts in the classroom, but it needs to be implemented throughout the curriculum, rather than solely when learning about fiction and nonfiction.

I was pleased to see websites presented as authentic literacy forms for students.  In this informational age, students needs to know hoe to use all sorts of electronic media to gain information from the world around them.  The invention of the SMARTboard was a great start to bringing authentic technology to instruction.

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2 Comments

Filed under EDUC 513 - Teaching Language Arts and Reading

2 responses to “513 – Reading to Learn

  1. alexearl

    I understand your belief that some sort of a schedule is needed in order to maintain order for students, parents, administrators, and teachers. We must ensure that our students are being exposed to all of the content matter that is mandated by the standard course of study in this standards-driven school environment. However, I think that there are still many ways that we can incorporate inquiry-based learning in our classrooms, where the curriculum is greatly based on student choice. I think that this is where practices like the learning contracts come into play. While it sounds like having students choose what to study all the time is ideal, what we really need to find is a balance. The reality is that students must do well on standardized assessments at the end of the year. But teaching strictly to the test will quickly extinguish students’ desire to learn.

  2. melissaeller

    Katie,

    I was equally struck by the idea of more lax schedules in the classroom – while this is ideal, it does seem somewhat unrealistic. For example, since I am in the Durham Public Schools district, our daily/weekly rotation schedules are literally down to the very second (my principal asked me to go around sync all the clocks in the 4th grade to make sure that every changed classes at exactly the same time, ridiculous.) So in this type of environment, it doesn’t seem probable for teachers to stream in and out of content areas on a whim.

    However, in an ideal world, this would be wonderful. I can remember being in elementary school (even in middle and high school) and wondering sometimes why on earth we were learning what we were learning, and what Author’s Main Purpose had to do with ecosystems in the North American Tundra. It just didn’t connect. Using this type of flexible schedule would allow teachers to help students make more meaningful connections.

    Great post!
    Melissa

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