Teaching kids to read carries different meanings based on grade level.
My focus is the upper elementary grades...third through sixth. In the primary grades, we are teaching child how to decode words. In grades three to six, teaching kids to read means that our students are focused on understanding what they are reading in order to learn about other subjects.
Reading transitions from "how to do it" to text being a primary information source...as it is for all literate adults in the world. Without an increasing ability to draw value from text, children will begin to fall behind in all subject areas.
The result of this multi-subject focus?
Reading must be practiced in all content areas.
Of course we'll have focused reading instruction, but what students learn in our reading block about theme, main idea, characters, etc. will not directly transfer to how to read in science or social studies or math.
Teaching elementary reading in other content areas means...
Children must read with the process of investigation in mind:
These things have to be considered as we read through a scientific text or article.
Our students must read with an inquisitive mindset about:
This focus on "what we need to know" in a particular subject takes practice for kids to learn to read effectively...it's an approach rather than a genre.
These science, social studies and math formats may also differ from what a child will be exposed to in your daily reading block, where texts or selections have been carefully chosen to be highly interesting.
Sometimes our students must read selections that are informative but not especially compelling.
Learning to push through and extract meaning from any text is a skill set that must be taught as well...a skill that will serve them well as adults, when much of their reading will be decidedly on the boring side (unless you really love insurance contracts, tax forms and retirement investment statements!)
Teaching kids to read is a fascinating and gratifying endeavor. Seeing that reading light bulb go on in a child's head when they "get it" is what we live for as teachers.
I think these articles will help you in your efforts to create great readers in your classrooms.
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Readers Workshop Part 1
Making it work for your class + adding rigor
Readers Workshop Part 2
Individualizing and small groups
Reading Comprehension Activities Part 1
Overview + read-alouds
Reading Comprehension Activities Part 2
Read-withs and non-fiction vs. fiction reality
Reading Comprehension Worksheets Part 1
Maximizing worksheet effectiveness
Reading Comprehension Worksheets Part 2
Creating your own questions
Challenging students with difficult words
Combining reading and writing instruction for fluency
Teaching Main Idea
Teaching main idea to elementary readers
Developmental Reading Assessment
Using DRA to guide teaching literacy
Reading between the line's for author's intent
Reading Fluency Assessment
Helping your robotic readers develop better decoding skills
Informal Reading Assessments
Keep your finger on the pulse of the fluency of your students