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Reading Across the Curriculum

By Emma McDonald

We all know that reading is a key skill for students. Without it our students cannot function efficiently and successfully in the world, not to mention on those oh-so-important standardized tests. However, it seems that the main bulk of reading instruction and practice fall on the Language Arts instructors. Imagine how much better our students would be in the area of reading if we ALL, no matter what subject we teach, took some time to reinforce important reading skills every day.

Now I realize that many of you may be feeling a bit nervous at the prospect of taking on additional responsibilities, especially when they wander into the unknown territory of reading and/or writing. However, by understanding the basic reading objectives, you can very easily incorporate them into your instruction.

First, what are the basic reading objectives? Every state should have their state standards listed on the Education Department website. You can check your state standards by visiting our State Information Page to get the exact objectives laid out by your state. The following are some of the basic objectives that you can begin to apply in your classroom.

Reading Objectives:
  • Identify main idea
  • Summarize a passage
  • Distinguish Fact from Non-Fact
  • Sequence events
  • Identify supporting details in a passage
  • Determining the meaning of words
  • Determine cause and effect relationships
  • Compare/contrast ideas
  • Make observations and analyze issues within a passage
  • Locate specific information in a passage
  • Use graphic sources to help interpret reading
  • Make generalizations and draw conclusions from a passage
  • Identify purpose of text

As you read these objectives, ask yourself, how many of these am I already doing without being aware of it? How many of you science and social studies teachers, for instance, require your students to locate facts from the textbook? Sequencing is another common skill that is used in Math, Science and Social Studies classes.

"Well," you may ask, "since I'm already reinforcing many of these skills in the classroom, what more is there?" Awareness on the part of the teacher is the first step. However, we must also make our students aware that these skills are not just practiced in their Reading or Language Arts class, but that they can be applied in all areas - academic and real life.

Once you and your students begin to see the application of Reading skills in your classroom, you can actively reinforce and practice these skills on a daily basis. Through constant daily use, these skills will be refined to the point where they are implemented fluently and without conscious effort.

When planning out your lessons, think about ways you will incorporate vocabulary, textbook reading, and reading from other sources to enhance student learning of the curriculum. As you write your objectives, be sure to include the reading objectives that will be used in the lesson.

For example, a Science teacher may have a lesson on electricity. Before the textbook reading, the teacher may want to introduce important vocabulary terms that students will encounter when reading the textbook. Within the objectives section of the lesson plans, this teacher would write:
  • Students will be able to identify key vocabulary terms within the text.

When discussing the vocabulary terms, it would also be very easy to incorporate a discussion on how the prefix or suffix gives a "clue" as to the meaning of the word. This little bit of "reading instruction" won't take more than a few extra minutes in the discussion. However, this teacher has now made the effort to utilize an important reading skill within the teaching of the Science curriculum.

To take it a step further, this teacher could also point out to his/her students that the use of prefixes and suffixes will help them determine word meaning in everything they read. In the course of a few minutes within the lesson, the Science teacher has reinforced Reading skills, applied it to his/her curriculum, AND applied it to the real world. Although it may not seem like a big deal, this teacher has just helped a classroom full of students to become fluent readers. The time is minimal, but if Every teacher in the school makes the commitment to apply at least one reading skill each day, the effects will multiply and we will see a surge in fluent readers!

For practical tips on ways you can incorporate reading strategies in your classroom, read our tip entitled "Reading Strategies Across the Curriculum".

Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum In-Service If you are interested in more information about our Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum in-service, please visit our Professional Development page in the catalog.

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