Thursday, February 5, 2015

Teaching Academic Literacy

There is a major difference between reading for pleasure--as taught in English literature classes and reading for content--such as needed in math, engineering and sciences (even history).  Reading for content could be termed "Textbook reading."

All too often, we rely on the English department to teach secondary students how to read.  These teachers show students how to savor every single word--much like eating a delicate dessert like Chocolate Mousse.  Every-single-word.

Problem?  In the sciences, you can't read 200 or 300 pages a night to understand what needs to be done.   I think science teachers need to teach students to read for content--where they can skip and still understand.

Here is my idea:

·         Teach academic literacy reading (reading for content) instead of relaxed, pleasure “English Literature” reading.
o   Read headings: ask “Do I understand?” If yes, write summary in notebook.
§  If NO, read next paragraph for example.  Ask, “Do I Understand?”
§  If YES, write summary in notebook (with brief of experiment orexample).
§  LOOK for bold, underlined or italicized words.  Ask, do I understand?  If Yes, move on, if NO, write definition in notebook.
o   Go on to next heading and repeat.

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