Here, we outline six elements of instruction that every child should experience every day. Each of these elements can be implemented in any district and any school, with any curriculum or set of materials, and without additional funds. All that’s necessary is for adults to make the decision to do it.
Things That Really Matter
Most of the classroom instruction we have observed lacks these six research-based elements. Yet it’s not difficult to find the time and resources to implement them. Here are a few suggestions.
First, eliminate almost all worksheets and workbooks. Use the money saved to purchase books for classroom libraries; use the time saved for self-selected reading, self-selected writing, literary conversations, and read-alouds.
Second, ban test-preparation activities and materials from the school day. Although sales of test preparation materials provide almost two-thirds of the profit that testing companies earn (Glovin & Evans, 2006), there are no studies demonstrating that engaging students in test prep ever improved their reading proficiency—or even their test performance (Guthrie, 2002). As with eliminating workbook completion, eliminating test preparation provides time and money to spend on the things that really matter in developing readers.
It’s time for the elements of effective instruction described here to be offered more consistently to every child, in every school, every day. Remember, adults have the power to make these decisions; kids don’t. Let’s decide to give them the kind of instruction they need.
- Every student reads something he or she chooses.
- Every student reads accurately.
- Every students reads something he or she understands.
- Every students writes about something personally meaningful.
- Every student talks with peers about reading and writing.
- Every student listens to a fluent adult read aloud.