Reading Reconsidered Review

I pre-ordered my copy of Reading Reconsidered by Doug Lemov, Colleen Driggs and Erica Woolway back in October. It arrived last week. Within a week of its arrival, I was visiting museums to find non-fiction texts to embed in project work and to dress up.

Researching Texts at the Cambridge Scott Polar Museum

This suggests that I was not approaching Reading Reconsidered neutral. I have been anticipating Reading Reconsidered for months.

England is some way behind the United States when it comes to reading in class. Much of my up-to-date reading knowledge comes from US blogs (e.g. Grant Wiggins and Timothy Shanahan). I was hoping for a book which took these ideas further while providing me with practical solutions to implementing them, which is exactly what this book does.

Reading Reconsidered addresses ideas I have been struggling with for some time: what is an appropriate text; what makes texts challenging (I was pleased to read the team’s section on archaic texts – my own experiments with historic texts are here) and why measuring text complexity doesn’t work.  My copy is full of sticky notes and index cards.

I find Lemov and Woolway’s Teach Like a Champion (TLaC) so useful because it takes small techniques that work and explains how to do them. It gives teachers a shared language to discuss classroom practice. The same is true of Reading Reconsidered. It goes straight into the nuts and bolts of using texts in the classroom and provides us with the language to discuss our practice. I hope to be planning “leapfrog reads” and “toggling” with colleagues next week.

The chapter on non-fiction is a big deal for me. I believe that we are losing a large number of skilled science students from the sciences because they lack skills in reading non-narrative non-fiction (NNNF). I am convinced that the ability to read science textbooks is the key to a career in the sciences. I have blogged about this here.

Lemov, Driggs and Woolway make excellent guides to teaching non-fiction. They provide strategies that I will be trying next week. I find the idea of combining the main text with other texts, including fiction and non-printed texts (video, demonstrations etc.) especially powerful.

I have unanswered questions though. I’d love to discuss assessment of material learnt through reading and I’d be very interested in the authors’ thoughts on how to manage the transition of a school to being reading centred. In England, reading in secondary schools is often left to the English department, but why would the English department be reading texts about mitochondria? Introducing the practice of embedding related fiction texts in a English secondary school science department would take a lot of thought. It would be great if Doug, Coleen and Erica wrote about these issues in their blog.

Reading Reconsidered has the potential to change how we teach across the curriculum in this country. I hope it does. If school leaders can be persuaded to put reading, and especially non-narrative non-fiction reading at the heart of classroom practice, Reading Reconsidered will be the handbook.



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