After engaging in several well-intentioned but flawed initiatives to coach content-area teachers in approaches that mimicked traditional English-language arts structures and genres, we realized that there were multiple interpretations of the notion that “every teacher is a teacher of reading.” Some of these interpretations seemed to be doing more harm than good. One critical confusion was over what we meant by “reading.” We think of reading as building conceptual knowledge in the disciplines, making inferences, building content-general and content-specific vocabulary, and interpreting tables, graphs, and maps. Our work with content teachers is grounded in helping students develop the specific skills they need to read and produce disciplinary texts.
Students today need to comprehend challenging "real world" texts to be capable learners, workers, and citizens. Comprehension can be doubly challenging in online reading environments that algorithmically tailor content to individual interests. Such targeting reinforces biases at the expense of a broader understanding of multiple perspectives and viewpoints. Our students need new sets of skills to navigate these online reading environments, including a strong understanding of how to evaluate and interpret evidence across disciplinary domains.
Our services integrate online and in-person coaching, digital and paper student resources, and an inquiry approach that recognizes and builds on the content expertise of our collaborating teachers. Reading Ways has been enthusiastically adopted by content area teachers. They understand that this work is designed to help them in their core teaching mission and is not an "add on."