High-Quality Trade Books and Content Areas: Planning Accordingly for Rich Instruction

High-Quality Trade Books and Content Areas: Planning Accordingly for Rich Instruction

Carolyn A. Groff (Monmouth University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2334-5.ch003

Abstract

Integrating high-quality children's tradebooks into elementary content areas has long been considered a best-practice (Olness, 2007). When teachers choose to incorporate these texts into content area lessons, they are exposing students to art through the pictures and reaching an array of visual learners. Hoffman, Collins and Schickedanz (2015) state that teachers have difficulty discussing the concepts presented in the books. The goal is to strike a balance between the literacy skills and strategies needed to read the informational text, and the concepts that must be discussed (Hoffman, Collins & Schickedanz, 2015). In order to increase students' understanding, teachers must be able to successfully merge their book selection with a carefully scaffolded lesson plan (Fisher & Frey, 2015). This chapter presents a lesson plan template that assists teachers in planning for integrated instruction.
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Literature Review

According to Adams and Pegg (2012), literacy and content area learning are in a constant state of change: “One dimension relates to shifting understandings regarding student learning, and the other dimension involves the relationship between content and literacy” (p. 151). Citing the work of previous researchers, Adams and Pegg argue that discipline-specific discourse can be taught through literacy practices; that is, the way the students talk about math, science, engineering and technology can be learned through literacy practices in the classroom. Moreover, since discipline-specific discourse are used by authors to create informational texts, using such texts can lead to increased understanding in content areas.

Integrating high-quality children’s trade books into elementary content areas has long been considered a best-practice (Olness, 2004). More specifically, high-quality informational texts can assist students in learning concepts in the STEM areas; using these texts with rich visuals and vocabulary forges a link between the arts and the STEM focus, creating the use of STEAM. Yopp and Yopp (2012) state that students’ engagement with informational texts more richly promotes their knowledge of content areas by teaching them vocabulary, text structure (such as compare and contrast), and text features (such as charts and tables). Teachers need to be able to merge their selection of a high-quality informational text and a scaffolded instructional model in order for students’ experiences to be successful (Fisher & Frey, 2015). Fisher and Frey (2015) state, “as students invest themselves in these informational texts, look for opportunities to encourage ways to inspire further investigation, discussion, and writing” (p. 529). However, for pre-service teacher candidates and novice teachers, planning for the blend of literacy and other content areas may not come naturally (Hoffman, Collins & Schickedanz, 2015). Citing prior research, Hoffman, Collins and Schickedanz (2015) state the following with regard to science instruction:

Research on effectively integrating science and literacy instruction to develop conceptual understandings uses informational text as a complement to hands- on scientific investigations in the science curriculum, not as a replacement for such experiences (Palincsar & Magnusson, 2001 ; Pappas & Varelas, 2004 ; Varelas & Pappas, 2006). Thus, informational texts are most meaningfully integrated in literacy instruction when they align with the ongoing science curriculum (i.e., the texts are related to the scientific concepts investigated in hands- on experiences). (pp.368-9)

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