Three Reasons All Teachers Need to Teach Reading
Educators have dedicated enormous effort to helping students recover from the learning disruptions caused by the pandemic. But the scope and strain of the challenge has caused many people to lose heart. Education Week reported more than 25% of veteran teachers (20+ years of experience) were considering leaving the profession earlier than they’d originally planned.
But the need for well-qualified teachers who have access to applicable professional learning is greater than ever. According to the 2022 Nation’s Report Card, only one-third (33%) of fourth-grade students are proficient readers, compared to 35% in 2019. In other words, the loss of instructional time during the pandemic has resulted in even fewer students acquiring the skills needed for understanding lesson content. Without intervention, students who are reading below grade level will continue to do so through middle and high school.
Consequently, the number one priority for school leaders is to recruit and retain highly-qualified teachers. The second priority is to ensure teachers have the training and resources they need to be successful in raising student achievement. An important consideration is ensuring the training and resources are designed to be a “light lift” rather than substantially increasing teachers’ already heavy workloads.
Helping students successfully complete the shift from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” is an area to which all teachers can contribute. Some students are still missing foundational reading skills as they move to more complex texts in middle and high school. Teachers in content areas other than language arts will need training about how to integrate explicit literacy instruction into their lessons to ensure students gain the skills they need to understand complex topics.
Here are three reasons why teachers in all content areas should be teaching literacy:
1. Students Need to Understand the Academic Language for Specific Content Areas
Words can differ according to the context in which they are used. “Variable” in algebra or “force” in physics have different meanings than they would in English Language Arts. Additionally, students may not encounter words such as “equilateral” or “scalene” outside of their geometry class. For students reading below grade level, explicit instruction that helps them understand the meaning of words in appropriate contexts can significantly aid comprehension.
With the proper training, content-area teachers will have an easy time delivering explicit instruction that ensures all students recognize and understand academic language.
2. Writing About a Subject Can Help Students Make Better Sense of the Concepts They’re Learning
Writing can help students organize their thoughts and also improve their memory retention. So, integrating both formal and informal writing activities into coursework can help students improve retention of the subject matter.
However, if students are devoting the majority of their cognitive resources to putting sentences together properly, they won’t have much left for understanding and retaining content information. Content-area teachers with an understanding of literacy learning can monitor and support students’ literacy progress, even tailoring writing assignments, so students can reap the previously mentioned benefits.
3. Literacy Training Will Improve Teachers’ Confidence and Can Boost Retention
Teachers who have received professional learning opportunities in literacy education gain a deeper understanding of how students process written content. That understanding can aid teachers’ curriculum development and delivery. Additionally, teachers will be better equipped to deliver individualized instruction because they’ll be able to know when literacy issues are playing a part in students’ struggles and take appropriate action. Seeing their efforts have a greater impact will boost teacher confidence and encourage them to remain in the classroom.
High-quality professional learning based on the science of reading can help teachers to close opportunity gaps and help students get back on track. In fact, district and school leaders have been investing ESSER funds in professional learning for teachers.
For maximum effectiveness, professional learning should be paired with evidence-based literacy interventions that can comprehensively meet students’ needs. In addition, self-paced professional development options would ensure teachers can fit professional learning into their busy schedules without additional stress.
Professional Literacy Training for All Teachers
The new Lexia Aspire™ Professional Learning digital solution is grounded in the science of reading and is specifically designed to help educators teach literacy skills across all content areas in grades 4–8. The solution enables educators to quickly build the depth of skills they need to support students who have not yet fully mastered the foundational reading skills required to comprehend and articulate ideas in various subjects.
The 40-hour Aspire program is self-paced, so educators can receive the support and skill development they need on their schedule. After a few prerequisite courses, educators can choose between three domains:
- Word Recognition
- Language Comprehension
- Reading Comprehension and Writing
Take Advantage of ESSER Funds Before They Expire
School leaders still have time to assess and refine their post-pandemic supplemental and intervention programs, including professional learning for all teachers, before the ESSER funding window closes. They’ll need to:
- Evaluate whether existing programs achieved the objective of accelerating learning
- Determine whether it’s necessary to invest in other programs before ESSER funds expire
- Expand successful programs
- Demonstrate progress or choose other evidence-based solutions
About 85% of public school curriculum is delivered via reading text. To perform well, students must read well. Giving teachers the knowledge and resources required to integrate literacy learning across all content areas sets both teachers and students on the path to success.
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