The Missouri Reader Vol. 43, Issue 1 | Page 35


An intentional

Allowing students to self-select texts for independent reading is also critical for creating an environment that embraces the joys of reading. Students must be provided equitable access to texts that allow them to read leisurely and apply literacy skills taught previously by teachers. For example, content area teachers can choose to immerse English learners with books in their native language, giving readers a chance to build literacy and facilitate the acquisition of a second language.

Social Justice and Equity

Part of our joy for teaching and learning can also be seen through our sharing of relevant and authentic literacy experiences with classmates, relatives, and various audiences. To begin the heavy-lifting around this worthwhile work, teachers can select texts that students can connect with. This is an essential first step in creating curriculum that is accessible to students. More importantly, text selections must be varied enough to give learners of all reading levels a selection of texts best-suited to their skill set and individual needs. This is true for all students, including English learners; and, while it is our belief that access to appropriate instructional materials should guide one aspect of our instructional planning, we also know that student interest and inquiry will often foster student motivation and engagement around more challenging and complex texts that are either self-selected by students or assigned by the content-area teacher. To balance both purposes, students must have access to rich classroom libraries that tell students “we value you as readers and writers and this is the class where you will thrive.” Students need to see their lives and experiences reflected in the texts across all content areas.

Commonly referred to as “Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Doors,” the work of Rudine Sims Bishop (1990) reminds us that students will often have experiences that require taking on different perspectives and views. In other instances, literature will self-affirm what students already know about their own lives, like a reflection staring back at the reader. When it comes to “sliding doors,” ask yourself: how am I cultivating instruction so that my students can experience stepping into a new real or imagined world to feel a sense of belonging? We assert that the place to start would be to ensure that students are seen in the texts and curriculum across content areas.

Teachers can use these general instructions for how to write a “How-to-Be” Poem to model writing in content-area classrooms.

responding to the text. The importance of focusing on scaffolding as a process is highlighted by the reminder that restrictive instructional strategies are sometimes incorrectly labeled as providing scaffolding even if they may hinder the child’s progress toward independence as a reader (Rodgers et al., 2016).

The gradual release of responsibility model (Pearson & Gallagher, 1983) stresses the importance of transference, as the teacher moves from taking on responsibility for performing a task to the student taking on responsibility. Importantly, the gradual release of responsibility is not intended to be scripted or rigid. Fisher and Frey (2008) identify four interlocking themes in promoting a gradual release of responsibility instructional framework. During brief focus lessons, teachers provide students with the purpose of the lesson, model how to address challenges such as how to read challenging texts and promote interest by tapping into background knowledge. Next, guided instruction involves teachers leading students through content of a lesson. Teachers might, for example, lead students through key themes and details in a fiction text. This stage is also a time for formative assessments and direct instruction. Students then work together to solve problems through collaborative learning activities. Finally, students practice skills with independent work. These phases of instruction may be enacted in varying order depending on the needs and interests of students. The interrelated skills of the language arts (reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and visually representing) should be used to inform one another.

Assistance provided by a teacher or a peer who is a more expert reader should lead toward a guided release of responsibility so that a student takes increasing independent control over the purposeful use of reading strategies and the comprehension of a text. Increased independence while assistance is gradually released is a key aspect of scaffolding.

The Fading of Support

An important aspect of scaffolding is that the student takes control, without requiring guidance or assistance from the teacher. Scaffolding strategies build metacognitive awareness for students. The teacher may provide active support when the child who is a struggling reader first practices reading a challenging text, but over time this support is decreased as the child engages in repeated readings until eventually the child is able to independently read the text fluently while comprehending the text.

Scaffolding moves (thinking aloud, cues) help learners to develop metacognitive skills (Tharp & Gallimore, 1991). Young readers first develop the knowledge of metacognition skills, and later, develop the ability to regulate their use of these skills. Metacognition in relation to literacy involves the awareness of, and regulation of, cognitive processes involved in the planning, monitoring, and assessing of the use of literacy skills (Flavell, 1979). For example, a child who can regulate skills related to previewing a text will actively monitor and evaluate whether she is using these skills.

The development of the ability to evaluate metacognitive skills helps students to also develop self-regulation skills (Winnie, 2017). Self-regulation is associated with the control of thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Students who self-regulate their use of literacy strategies, behaviors, and emotions while reading, can better achieve their goals as readers (Zimmerman, 1986). These students can plan, monitor, and evaluate how they use reading strategies to understand difficult texts. Guiding students toward increased self-regulation helps students attain higher academic achievement