- Students need to read text every day that is at their instructional or independent level and that is of interest to them. Of course, what is "instructional" or "independent" can be determined in many different ways from formal testing or teacher observations through conferring with students.
- Students need many opportunities to use academic vocabulary so that they feel comfortable enough to use it independently.
- When students formulate and then respond to their own questions, they learn more.
- Facts are important in content learning but knowing just facts is not enough. Students must have multiple opportunities to apply what they know using critical thinking strategies, as well.
- Teachers need to teach non fiction structures that will allow students to enhance their comprehension and increase their facility with content area vocabulary.
I have been dismayed to realize that despite my self-image as a teacher with a learner centered classroom, I am far from truly achieving that goal.
I have been listening carefully to myself lately, and I don't like what I hear myself saying to the kids. Instead of empowering my students to take ownership of their learning, I am still the director on the stage. I still ask leading questions rather than ones that push the learner to figure things out for herself. I realize I often spoon feed my students hopeful that they will give me the answer I'm looking for. An answer that will make my job easier. Answers that will fit with what I expect students to say despite the fact that 30 years in education has taught me nothing if not that students are unpredictable, and if we prepare for anything, that is what we should be prepared for.
An anecdote. The other day I was talking with a student about the fact that she was abandoning more books than she was finishing. I was as…