Position Yourself at the Center: Coteaching Reading Comprehension Strategies
Moreillen, Judi, Teacher Librarian
THE LITERACY TEAM: ARE YOU AT ITS CENTER?
Teacher-librarians have long been responsible for promoting reading in schools. We carefully collect exciting print and electronic resources to support the curricula taught in our buildings. We give booktalks, invite guest authors and illustrators, and provide teachers with topical and thematic text sets, mini-collections that circulate via the classrooms in our schools. We plaster our library walls and our schools' halls with posters to motivate youth to read. We organize book clubs and book fairs and invite students, teachers, and parents into the wondrous world of literacy. We believe that these promotional activities help create avid readers and we act accordingly.
But if someone were to ask your principal to name the members of your school's literacy team, would you be first on the list? Many of us see our role as fostering the enjoyment and appreciation of literature in all genres and information in all formats-but we have stopped short of taking part in actual reading instruction. Helping youth become capable readers is the goal of every school. Improving students' reading achievement and improving teachers' reading instruction are critical concerns of all school principals. If we are to position ourselves at the center of our schools' literacy programs, then we must become leaders in reading instruction.
If we think in terms of what is important to classroom teachers and administrators, reading is one area of the curriculum that is a priority in every K-12 school. In "What's Hot for 2008," 100% of respondents to the International Reading Association's (IRA) annual survey labeled adolescent literacy, reading comprehension, informational/nonfiction texts, and struggling/striving readers (grade 4 and above) as components of literacy teaching that "should be hot" (Cassidy & Cassidy, 2008, p. 10). Under the umbrella of reading comprehension, educators can successfully address all of the hot topics identified by IRA's literacy survey respondents. These literacy program components are also aligned with the charge of school library programs and offer teacher-librarians entrees into classroom-library collaboration. These are topics that meet the needs of students, our classroom teacher colleagues, and our principals.
For too long, many of us have stood on the periphery of our school's literacy team. Perhaps we worked within a limited concept of teaching reading that focuses on decoding skills. It is true that these skills are best taught by classroom teachers and reading specialists who are trained to teach them and who can monitor the development of each individual learner. But reading also involves using those decoding skills in the service of making meaning. When we teach and coteach reading comprehension strategies, we are helping students make sense of what they read. And we know that if our goal is to teach students to be effective users of ideas and information then we must ensure that they are first and foremost capable readers.
If reading is so important to students, teachers, and administrators, then positioning ourselves at the center of our schools' literacy programs puts teacher-librarians in a prime position to coteach with our classroom teacher colleagues. As teacher-librarian, researcher and educator Ken Haycock has said, people do things for their own reasons. If we want our library programs to function as the hub of learning in our schools, then helping classroom teachers teach reading comprehension strategies and helping principals reach school goals for reading achievement must be at the center of our work.
ALIGNING READING COMPREHENSION STRATEGIES AND INFORMATION LITERACY SKILLS
Research indicates that reading comprehension strategies should be explicitly taught and modeled at all grade levels (Block Pressley, 2002; Pressley, 2006; RAND, 2002; Sweet & Snow, 2003). …