Gaining knowledge from informational texts is an essential academic skill. Yet for too many English Learners, this skill is not developed sufficiently and as they move from elementary into middle school, the reading gap becomes a knowledge gap. In Reading to Learn for ELs, author Ana Taboada Barber provides models of her instructional framework for reading informational texts so that reading teachers, content-area teachers, and ESL teachers alike can take on the work of teaching English Learners how to succeed and gain knowledge through reading informational texts.
I teach at Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school. Rindge sits in the shadow of Harvard University—one of the best institutions for higher learning in the world. Yet, despite many who insist that my school’s diversity and opportunity are afforded to all students, I know otherwise. Here, students begin the ninth grade on one of two tracks: the (misnamed) College Prep track or the Honors track. The College Prep (CP) track (or “Colored People” track as some students unofficially call it) serves students of color, students with disabilities, students of lower socioeconomic class, and others. The Honors track tends to include students who are white, middle or upper class, and who have parents who are actively involved in their educations.
Students experience education differently depending on their track designation.
Adapted from No More Telling as Teaching: Less Lecture, More Engaged Learning by Cris Tovani and Elizabeth Birr Moje.
Why should we care about whether teachers rely on lecture? People have lectured throughout history, and many teachers claim this is the most efficient way to cover content. And, in fact, in and of itself the lecture is not a bad method for sharing information, ideas, or perspectives. Many people share their thoughts with others through lectures.
Because learners can participate in well-framed and well-structured lectures for which they have a clear sense of purpose, it is not the lecture that we challenge but rather a conception of learning that makes the teacher the knowledge disseminator and the students receptacles waiting to be filled. Specifically, we challenge the steady diet of teachers and textbooks (or other media) telling, with students regurgitating what they have been told.
Excerpted from Teaching Talk: A Practical Guide to Fostering Student Thinking and Conversation by Kara Pranikoff
If you are interested in working on the talk in your room, the first step is to listen. All listening involves some level of bravery (it’s never easy to listen to yourself) and routine. It’s the only way to really know what is being shared and how the moves you make as a teacher are affecting student thought in your classroom. You need to find a way to save conversations and collect artifacts of your talk for assessment and reflection.
Each week on The Heinemann Podcast we bring you concise, relevant and thought-provoking interviews with Heinemann authors and educators in the field. We know teachers are very busy people and it can be hard to keep up with all of your favorite authors, so, as we wrap up another school year we thought you might enjoy a recap of some recent Heinemann Podcast highlights. Enjoy!
By Thomas Newkirk
In anticipation of the September release of my new book, Embarrassment: And the Emotional Underlife of Learning, I decided to reflect on what the book can offer teachers, students, and (I hope) other readers intrigued with the topic. We met in Tom’s office, a cluttered upstairs room of his house. From his window, you can see across Mill Pond Road to the former house of his mentor and friend Don Murray, who figures prominently in the book.
In so much of what I read about education, the emotional life of the learner, particularly the teacher-learner, is ignored. We often get these rosy, uniformly successful depictions—all students are motivated, everything comes in on time, the teacher just loves every minute of her job. While I loved teaching, that was never my emotional reality. I regularly felt discouraged. I relived failures, often in the middle of the night. My successes seemed so much more intermittent than those in the accounts I read. I compared myself unfavorably with colleagues, and super-teacher authors and presenters—and I didn’t measure up.