Literacy Is Freedom
Posted by AVID Center on 5/31/2019
As this world grows more complex, we stand firm in believing that knowing more is better than knowing less, that an open mind is more helpful than a closed mind, that finding things we have in common is a better starting place than discussing things that divide us, that teaching our children to think logically and independently and behave ethically and empathetically is critical to our democracy.
—Kylene Beers & Robert E. Probst
Reading unlocks content, no matter what subject you teach. The act of reading immerses the reader in ideas, places, times, and new ways of looking at the world unlike anything else does. That is why we are excited to announce our latest resource, AVID Reading for Disciplinary Literacy: A Schoolwide Approach. The goal of students experiencing success with rigorous texts in every discipline area is at the heart of this book. It provides all educators with the necessary tools for developing a reading routine that allows students to take charge of their own learning through the successful navigation of rigorous texts, and, because of that, it is the road map to an educational revolution.
You may have heard the phrase every teacher is a teacher of reading, but this book does not ask you to teach reading. It asks you to teach your students how to read like mathematicians, scientists, historians, and the like. As content experts, practiced readers bring a variety of academic tools, knowledge, and life experiences to every text they read. The background information that these experts already know informs how they approach a text, helps build initial conclusions, and sets a framework for their interaction with the text. As students begin to approach new and increasingly difficult texts, they need to build the same skills and frameworks that enable expert readers to engage in the nuances and complexities of what they are reading. From why and how paragraphs are numbered, to the use of note-taking to interact with a text, to what questions expert readers first ask of a text, students need encouragement and guidance to apply what they already know to develop a richer understanding of what they read.
Embedded within each instructional practice in this resource is the core belief that when students are given proper scaffolding and support, they can comprehend and interact with challenging texts. The philosophy behind the “gradual release of responsibility” instructional model (Fisher & Frey, 2008)—which includes multiple reads, checking for understanding, working with partners, working in larger groups, and grappling with challenging texts individually—is directed toward this purpose.
This resource will prepare educators to:
- Incorporate reading as a core function of learning in their classroom.
- Have the necessary tools for teaching students to think, question, and respond to texts as content experts.
- Apply the gradual release of responsibility instructional framework to reading to ensure that all students can access rigorous text.
- Exercise their agency when choosing both the texts and strategies that will best serve the needs of their students and align with the demands of their content.
- Employ AVID’s high-engagement Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading (aka AVID's WICOR® strategies) to empower student learning.
Along with the launch of the AVID Reading for Disciplinary Literacy: A Schoolwide Approach book, we are offering a new professional learning option, a training with the same name, that debuts at our AVID Summer Institutes this year! (Training participants will receive a physical copy of the book.) Upon completion of this training strand, educators will be prepared to use a systematic and scaffolded approach to disciplinary literacy that will engage students in reading and comprehending rigorous content-specific texts in both a traditional and digital format. This training will also be available at several upcoming regional and district AVID Path to Schoolwide trainings.
Literacy is freedom. That is why dictators take books away and control the press. Disciplinary literacy is a passport to all the content areas that feel like a foreign land. What the world needs most are students who analyze problems like engineers, develop hypotheses like scientists, think mathematically, recognize the power of individuals like historians, and record their thinking about all the above like authors do. This book is dedicated to making that vision a reality for educators and the students they work tirelessly to serve. Let’s all do our part to help our students read to change the world.
If you’re an AVID educator, you can download your eBook now on MyAVID! If you’re not at an AVID partner school and would like to learn more about this and other resources we provide our members, contact us.
Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2008). Better learning through structured teaching: A framework for the
gradual release of responsibility. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.