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INBOX Ideas - Previous Revision

Helping Students Find a Way into
Reading Critically and Thinking Deeply

NCTE INBOX 9-17-13

With the implementation of the CCSS, there is a great deal of time being spent debating what should be read in our classrooms today. The controversy around appendix B is just one of many such discussions. 

"The Power of Song: Exploring Cultural Relevance in the Eighth-Grade Classroom" reminds us of the opportunities that present themselves when we take the broadest view of texts. By bringing songs from popular culture into the classroom, we increase the likelihood of using culturally relevant materials and the opportunity for dialogue around compelling questions that matter to students.

In the end it may not be about which texts we teach but how we ask the 21st century student to examine and synthesize different types of texts as independent thinkers.

Visit these resources to see it in action:

  • Peer into a second-grade classroom as the teacher introduces a second informational text on butterflies as a follow-up to a class read-aloud on the Monarch butterfly. In the guided reading group, students are asked not only to synthesize what they learned in the first book but to do a picture walk to get ready to read and anticipate what else they might be learning.
  • In Literature as a Catalyst for Social Action: Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges and Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges: Critical Discussion of Social Issues, literature and informational texts are used to ask students to look critically at issues of power, race, and social justice to help them begin to understand that every text is written from someone's perspective.
  • The I-Search Paper Strategy Guide demonstrates that classroom conversations on research need not be limited to which resources are allowed. By empowering students to focus the research and writing process on self-selected questions about themselves, their lives, and their world, resource selection becomes a teachable moment.
  • In "Studying the Reading Transition from High School to College," college students report spending significant time reading online documents and provide hints as to why and how they read. Given what we know about the reading demands on college students, it might be time to rethink the college reading course.

-- Sharon Roth, Senior Developer
NCTE Professional Learning Opportunities

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NCTE - The National Council of Teachers Of English

A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts