Tuesday, August 20, 2013

All teachers need to be language teachers...

"Middle and high school teachers often deal with over a hundred students in a day, and they base their assignments on the assumption that the students can read and react to the text."

Heidi Hayes Jacobs (2006), Active Literacy Across the Curriculum: Strategies for Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening, p. 4. 

In her work, Active Literacy Across the Curriculum (2006), Heidi Hayes Jacobs makes the case that all teachers are language teachers. It is not a matter of whether they want to be or not it is a must. All academic classes require a working knowledge of content related vocabulary. The student has to learn how to read and understand the content. For some students this is easier than others, but for most they need assistance in developing their understanding. From the complex concepts that require abstract thinking to the more concrete which require knowledge of operations and the application of words which are not readily used everyday, the student is expected to have a working knowledge of something that she may not know how to begin to address.

Therefore, the teacher must take time to be purposeful about teaching the students the language of the content area. Vocabulary cannot be reduced to memorization or word lists. The teacher must introduce the words and spend time using instructional strategies (graphic organizers, interactive word walls, previewing, reviewing, Frayer models, as well as others) that ensure that the words are being used. The processes and skills of the course must be introduced and re-introduced. Has the teacher spent time explaining note-taking and how to answer short answer questions? Has the teacher spent extensive amounts of time  explaining operational processes and how to think (not what to think) when problem-solving?

All classes require the teacher to be a language arts teacher. I hope that you will take time to look at your classes or those that are offered in your schools. Linked below is a teacher using a vocabulary strategy to engage children. Also, if you follow this link http://rpms13.blogspot.com/p/vocabulary.html you will find many helpful strategies for working with vocabulary in all levels of classrooms.