We all know that reading is an essential skill that our students should practice regularly. But so many teachers tell me that they struggle with fitting it in with all the competing demands on their time.
In particular, high school teachers feel under the pump when it comes to content delivery. They tell me they have masses of content to cover that it's hard to find time to practise the essentials.
It's important that students do more reading and that we make time for it to happen. It really is as simple as that.
The first thing I'd encourage you to do is to make sure students are reading themselves. Too often, the reading is done by the teacher or other students who may be better readers. This practice does not help weaker readers improve.
It is a challenge to fit rich reading, writing and vocabulary activities into your classroom time, but it is a challenge that is relatively easy to overcome. Rather than see reading as an extra thing to make time for, we need to see it as part of how we teach content and skills.
You can set up a reading activity as part of the sequence for teaching cognitive verbs. When we do this, the text students are reading should demonstrate the key skill or cognitive verb.
For example, if we were looking at the skill of evaluating - I would give the students text to evaluate. Of course, the piece they are reading contains content that should fit the subject or topic you are studying.
I'd set up a reading activity with the purpose of deconstructing the text. But while my students are learning, or practising, the skill of evaluation through the deconstruction activity, they are doing so much more.
They are reading. The students are also learning about the topic from the piece of text they are reading.
If I add a post-reading activity, such as making some notes about the text they have read, those notes can then stimulate a writing activity.
This activity could take 20 to 25 minutes, but this is one activity in which students have learned content. They've learned a skill, identified the language of that skill, and the parts of the text that show it's a particular skill. Finally, they have had the opportunity to do some writing. It really is an efficient use of classroom time.
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