Reevaluating Reading Instruction

In Leading with Focus, author Mike Schmoker says "research shows that the acquisition of knowledge and vocabulary through content-rich curriculum may be more important to reading than any other factor." This content and vocabulary can come from a variety of sources. In his book Focus, Schmoker shares that a content-rich curriculum must include regular, in-class opportunities to read and discuss newspapers, serious magazines, biographies, memoirs, etc. He also writes "no evidence proves that an approach focused on the technical aspects of literacy helps students become more sophisticated in their reading.” Reading growth depends, more than anything, on our ability to build up students' knowledge base and vocabulary.

Why do I mention Schmoker's work on literacy? Because the Edutopia article below includes reading growth in one of their 10 most significant educational studies of 2020. A K-5 study indicates that "social studies is the only subject with a clear, positive, and statistically significant effect on reading improvement." I don't know many details of the study, but the results should definitely cause us to ask questions.

Doug Dunn is currently athletic director and junior high principal for the Licking (MO) School District. He has previously served as a K-8 superintendent and elementary principal. Doug can be found on Twitter at DougDunnEdS.