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Volume 15, Number 4
July/August 1999

What Secondary Teachers Can Do To Teach Reading

A three-step strategy for helping students delve deeper into texts


You want me to teach reading?
But I'm a content teacher.
I don't have time to stop and
teach reading. Besides, I wouldn't
even know how to begin.

These are typical concerns of secondary teachers when asked to take more responsibility for their students' reading. One reason for their concern may be confusion about what secondary reading is.

Simply put, if reading through grades 3 or 4 is about learning to read-acquiring the skills needed to decode the written word automatically and fluently-then reading from about grade 4 on is about using those skills to comprehend what is written-that is, using reading to learn. Texts used in subject areas often employ language, syntax, vocabulary, and concepts that are specific to a particular field of study. Merely assigning reading does not help students learn how to tangle with these specialized texts to construct meaning: teachers must help prepare students for and guide them through the texts so that they will learn from them most effectively.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


Also by this Author

    For Further Information

    For Further Information

    J. Chall. Stages of Reading Development. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1983.

    D.W. Moore, J.E. Readence, and R.J. Rickelman. Prereading Activities for Content Area Reading and Learning (2nd ed.). Newark, DE: International Reading Association, 1989.

    B.D. Roe, B.D. Stoodt, and P.C. Burns. Secondary School Reading Instruction: The Content Areas (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.