Modern literacy requires a person to use their knowledge of concepts and facts to understand newly acquired information so one may evaluate, make connections, and apply what they learn to our world. Therefore it is critical that teachers use a wide range of high quality texts about concepts and subjects that systematically build a deep reservoir of background knowledge for our students.
High Quality Texts are:
· Factually Accurate - Texts used for instructional purposes must be full of correct information to provide a rich context from which to learn new information and build deep conceptual understanding. Teachers must embrace using texts of all kinds that help provide students opportunities to encounter new concepts and information in many different ways. Students can learn and build literacy skills through experiences with print, audio, and visual texts.
· Instructionally Appropriate - While simple texts may be easier for students to access and understand, they cannot provide the learning opportunities that a complex text can offer. Teachers must identify and employ texts, both simple and complex, that specifically match the instructional needs of their students and the rigorous knowledge demands of their content. Simpler texts are ideal to introduce new concepts and information, while complex texts help stretch students’ literacy skills and engage higher order thought to deepen their understanding of the new material.
· Language Rich - Students build vocabulary by attaching new words and phrases to information they already know. Texts that use rich language to present, compare, contrast and connect new information with vivid vocabulary, figurative language and vibrant descriptions are highly effective tools to help students build and retain deep understanding of new material. Teachers must strive to use language rich texts that enable students to expand their functional vocabulary and broaden their base of knowledge.
· Developmentally Appropriate - Some high quality texts present appropriate information in a manner or context which may not be developmentally appropriate for all students. Teachers must consider the social, emotional and cognitive abilities of their students while selecting high quality texts. A text that is aimed at younger audiences may present necessary material in a way that seems childish for adolescents. A text that is aimed at adolescents can present the same material in a way that distracts younger audiences from the important information and concepts. Developmentally appropriate texts are those which motivate students to read by presenting crucial information and engaging conceptual ideas in a context and format that is suitable for students at their age and stage of development.
21st century literacy demands that students be proficient readers, writers, speakers, and listeners in a variety of real life, unpredictable situations. Functional literacy is no longer measured by a reader’s skill to navigate and understand only written text. In order to be considered functionally literate in today’s society, one must be a skilled consumer of all sorts of written, visual, and multimedia texts.
To ensure students are ready to function in the highly technical situations they will face in college and career endeavors, teachers must consistently incorporate a wide range of high quality texts into their daily classroom instruction. Deliberately selecting a wide variety of high quality texts of all kinds for classroom use supports 21st century literacy skill development and provides a comprehensive learning experience. Instruction is enhanced by including both fiction and non-fiction texts such as: written text, photographs, graphic organizers, charts, graphs, fine art, audio recordings, video recordings, live performances, websites, magazines, newspaper articles, and other high quality texts that are tightly focused on the topics and concepts that play a crucial role in developing deep background knowledge for our students.
Using daily reading routines are simple ways to increase student reading comprehension and engagement with the text. The series of routines below models the gradual release of responsibility for student reading of complex texts. This link more information about a few daily reading routines and how to implement them in any classroom.