Plan Whole-Class Lessons Using Content-Area Text


Plan Whole-Class Lessons Using Content-Area Text

Posted on May 05, 2017

Plan Whole-Class Lessons Using Content-Area Text

Ravenous elementary readers sometimes feel like incompetent struggling readers when they enter middle school. This may be a result of elementary teachers employing a literature-rich approach to whole-class and small-group instruction. When students enter middle school, the bulk of the day is spent reading from content-area textbooks.

K-5 teachers can help with this transition by intentionally integrating more content-area texts. The same reader skills and strategies applied to literature are relevant when reading informational text, too. However, it's not an automatic transfer. Students need instruction on how navigate this more complex text.

This could be accomplished by using the core reading program/basal series, but it doesn't have to be. The fidelity of a core reading program does not mean reading every passage in the book. When the basal suggests an informational text for a particular skill, consider substituting it with a content-area passage. It's not about reading all the texts in the adopted basal. Rather, it's about following a scope and sequence of skills and strategies that move from simpler text to more complex. As long as the content-area text lends itself to the reading strategy/skill, then it's a perfect resource for the lesson.

Five steps to incorporate content-area texts.

  1. Before teaching a skill/strategy with content-area text, use simple literary text first. Since the content and text structure are familiar, students can focus on the new skill/strategy.
  2. When students are ready to bring the skill into their nonfiction reading, identify content-area texts that lend themselves to this same skill/strategy.
  3. Plan the mini-lesson content, specifically the explicit instruction. Determine the key instructional points to make that will connect what students first learned in simple/literary text to its application in informational text.
  4. Within the same lesson, model the reading skill/strategy using the content-area text you selected. Demonstrate how your Reading Voice and Thinking Voice are navigating the text using a Think Aloud.
  5. Provide an opportunity for students to try the same skill/strategy using another excerpt of content-area text.

This 15-minute whole-class lesson will end and you may not have read much from the science textbook...and that's normal. The text is just a tool to teach this skill. The goal of any reading mini-lessons is to demonstrate how to execute a skill; it is not to "get through" a lot of text. Taking the time to provide this kind of explicit instruction prepares students for the abundant and independent content-area reading they will face for years to come.