Common Core and reading advocates are shifting away from skills based reading instruction. Both promote the use of close reading.
Close reading involves students reading and sometimes rereading text. During the process, students highlight, underline, or circle information that they deem to be important. This approach helps students focus on how and why they determined an answer to a question.It helps students pay closer attention to the nuances of language and how authors put words, sentences, and paragraphs together to create ideas.
This approach works well with a great number of students. What about students that do not read? Or, what happens to students that read playful comics rather than historical fiction or classic literature?
When we learn about rocks and minerals, my students participate in mineral dig and mock gold rush activity.
Students come to our classrooms with a wide variety of backgrounds. I have had students that have traveled to France from the United States for family vacations. I have also had students that have never traveled to a local museum other than through a school field trip. These experiences matter and add to the knowledge that students bring to the table when they read a book.
This is a hands-on activity students participated in to accompany a science lesson.
To level the educational playing field as much possible, I incorporate as many hands-on experiences as I can into our units of study. Reading lessons are often taught in thematic units to help students connect the dots. Time is spent reading challenging text (with support) for just a few minutes a day. Students read one paragraph from a nature or science magazine and closely read the paragraph. After two or three minutes, we discuss what was stated in the paragraph and I walk around to look at the annotations they have on their papers. This is very important. Students must read leveled text to reduce reading frustration. To ensure that students are still accessing reading materials at their level, we read higher level text together with a lot of scaffolding.
This approach works very well. Increasing world knowledge is not limited to historical facts or science information. It also includes closely reading models of excellent writing and investigating how the writers convey character, theme, etc.