How do you counter the ‘knowledge deficit’ in reading?
By Tyler on May 3rd, 2012
This is one in a series of posts examining the Common Core State Standards and the conversation surrounding their impact on teaching and learning.
The liveliest debate about the Common Core standards within the reading world seems to be around the issue of teachers using “prereading” activities to help prepare kids for what they are about to read.
Many educators are interpreting the standards and the controversial “Publisher’s Criteria” as saying that prereading activities are an ineffective instructional tactic, and distract from what’s important: the text. Those critical of the standards worry that “cold reading” of text disenfranchises students who don’t bring as much background knowledge to the task.
Putting aside who’s right and who’s wrong, the debate over “prereading” at least raises the question of how best to tackle the “knowledge deficit” in schools.
In most classrooms you’ll find students on vastly different reading levels and with very different backgrounds. They don’t all bring the same knowledge base to school everyday. And struggling readers are at an acute disadvantage because they generally haven’t been able to pour through (and learn from) as many books as other children.
So, in a classroom full of varying “knowledge deficits,” how do you level the playing field?
Doug Lemov of Uncommon Schools shared some interesting ideas with Ed Week on how the teachers at his schools use “embedded nonfiction” when students read novels — assigning nonfiction texts on the same topic as a novel students are reading to build background knowledge.
“Over the long haul, one of the biggest barriers to reading success and comprehension is the knowledge deficit. We need to close that knowledge deficit,” he told Ed Week.
How do you tackle your students’ knowledge deficits during reading instruction?