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achievement of our students. A child that scores at the 50th percentile on standard- ized tests reads for approximately 4.6 min- utes per day. This adds up to approximately one half hour per week. A child who reads independently for 65 minutes a day scores in the 98th percentile on standardized tests. From this information, we can draw two

conclusions: the more printed text a student reads and interprets, the more vocabulary that child will be exposed to, and the greater volume of pages students read the greater the comprehension. These two factors lead us to understand that teachers must be explicitly teaching students to read the text in class. Expectations must also be set high for stu- dents to read out of class as well, with ample follow-up activity to develop a sense of ac- countability for the reading.

Yet another problem In April 2010, Daniel Willingham, a re-

spected cognitive scientist, wrote a piece for Valerie Strauss’ blog in the Washington Post (Strauss, 2010). His analysis of the relatively low NAEP scores, especially in eighth grade language arts, was profound. He explained that much of the test deals with expository text and the need to acquire background in- formation from these texts. He noted that teachers teach skills and

strategies as they apply to narrative text, and that in order for students to transfer their knowledge of skills and strategies to exposi- tory text, these skills must be taught explic- itly. If we are to help our students conquer the Common Core Standards, we must give them the tools to read expository text.

Recommended instructional strategies Every day, classroom teachers face time

constraints, and teaching efficiency leads to instructional effectiveness. Effectiveness is measured by how much students learn, de- spite being interrupted by urgent demands that interrupt the flow of teaching. We must seek ways to integrate pedagogy in efficient ways in order to help students master es- sential reading skills. Some salient instruc- tional strategies include the following:


Text structure – Teachers must begin to teach the explicit design and

10 Leadership

structure of expository text as part of their language arts program. Teachers must also realize that the teaching of narrative text structure, or story grammar, differs greatly

Teachers teach skills and strategies as they apply to narrative text. In order for students to transfer their knowledge of skills and strategies to expository text, these skills must be taught explicitly.

lined. Do the students see any repetitions, similarities or themes? Finally, the students develop questions about the patterns that were noted. It is especially effective to guide students in developing questions beginning with “how” and “why.” While text explora- tion is critical to developing schema and vo- cabulary associated with a particular topic, the lessons should include inquiry, hands- on experimentation and projects to instill learning and to create further curiosity in the subjects at hand.


Writing about reading – The Com- mon Core Standards demand higher

order thinking skills and will be tested in the multiple choice environment as well as in the written response format. Students will be asked to respond to several texts, providing support for their thoughts and ideas. They will need to cite specific exam- ples of expert text as proof for their lines of logic. To prepare students for the rigor in-

volved in these tasks, students must be taught to write about what they read. These writings begin with the simple task of note taking. As students develop their ideas, time spent sharing in pairs allows them to begin to test their assumptions. Students learning to cite the text when making an argument develop ever longer written works, includ- ing research papers.


from that of expository text. They must use the available science and social studies ma- terials in the classroom as they apply the lessons of expository text. The objectives of these lessons of study must be structured to ensure understanding of how the text works – the organization of the text with its main ideas, supporting details and conclusion.


Close reading – During science and social science lessons teachers must

model close reading of portions of the text- books. In close reading, readers read with a pencil in their hand. They underline key words and phrases they identify as signifi- cant. Next, the students are directed to look for patterns in the words they have under-

Teach comprehension strategies ex- plicitly – When teaching compre-

hension strategies, make sure the students understand that the goal of the lesson is to understand the text. Demonstrations of specific strategies are very useful when di- rected toward the understanding of the con- text of information to be learned. Reading with a purpose and practicing reading stra- tegically in class will yield great benefit as students are directed toward independence in their reading.


Integrated pedagogy –When teach- ers teach content, they believe that

they do not have time to teach reading as well. This is true if the two areas are seen as separate entities. Integration of the two is essential. While teaching concepts of sci-

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