I decided recently that I need to get a stronger upper body. So, I bought some small hand weights and I asked my husband to show me some weight lifting exercises. And then, I tried a couple of the exercises but I wasn’t doing them quite right. So we both decided that since he was good at it and I wasn’t, he should just lift the weights for me. All the time.
Hahahaha!!! Nooooooo, not really!
You’re thinking, “Tracy, that’s ridiculous! The only way to get better at weight lifting is to ...actually lift weights.
But I do think that’s what many of us do with reading in Social Studies. We want the kids to improve their reading, so we ask them to read something.
And then, they don’t do it very well because they are all kids and because some of them are not strong readers and others are not very into Social Studies and others are intimidated by the term “Amendment” or “Timbuktu” or “progressivism” and others looked at the single-spaced long (to them) piece of text and gave up before they started.
And then we say, “OMG! These kids can’t read!”
And then we say, “Since they can’t read, I had better do the reading for them”.
And then we put it in a powerpoint or a handout or in bullet points or fill in the blank or another actual language (for ELL students) ...
And then the kids don’t actually have to read.
And then we are frustrated when their reading doesn’t improve.
I read recently a PSA campaign about fruits and vegetables that says “More Matters”. The idea behind the PSA is that just eating an apple a day isn’t enough. The more fruits and veggies you eat, the healthier you are.
They’re probably right. I should increase my fruit and veggie consumption if I’m not going to lift any weights myself
But I would like to suggest that you apply the “more matters” philosophy to your students and pieces of text.
More TEXT matters.
Kids should have the opportunity to have their eyes on text every day in your class -- and different texts. They should have maps and charts and graphs and textbook-style readings and primary source documents and secondary source documents and articles and political cartoons and artworks ...
All. The. Time.
And if your kids stink at reading?
Then they need to read MORE!! (It’s called productive struggle and it’s a powerful thing)
Of course, you will have to bust out all your strategies:
- Chunk the text
- Have kids mark the text
- Have them talk about the text.
- Have them write about it
- Have them think about it
- Have them read it again
- Have them respond in writing
- And about 1000 more reading strategies...
And when they aren’t good at it?
Try it again. They need to read again!! That’s how they improve. Productive struggle is how we grow. Don’t take away that chance for kids to struggle for themselves.
I’m going to go work with my weights. And see if I can improve.
How about you? How about your kids? Can you have them try “productive struggle” with text every day? Different text, different strategies, but stil working with text.
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