Content area teachers….go see your school’s literacy expert

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I was reading a blog post by an outspoken educator that I just had to share.  Grant Wiggins, recently blogged about something dear to my heart, history class.  Specifically, the history class lecture.  His post, Why do so many HS history teachers lecture so much? brought back so many, many memories.  I really respect his opinions because, in part, he has research to back up his views. Wiggins claims history teachers are lecturing over 50% of the time in both high school and middle school history classes.  I remember when I was a novice social studies/history teacher.  I lectured (too much) for many reasons….

  1. I was new and I was learning to implement many strategies into my teaching.
  2. I was teaching history like I had been taught.
  3. Creating a lecture to upload vast amounts of historical information into kids’ brains was what was needed to cover EVERYTHING I had to cover! So I thought.

Now, with more experience, and many more tools in my teaching toolkit, including an additional degree in literacy, I know that lecture is something to use sparingly regardless of how much material any teacher needs to cover. The main reason I think history teachers STILL lecture too much, is not simple but,  I think it’s mainly due to not knowing how to teach/reinforce reading comprehension.  State standards ask history teachers to make sure students know the historical facts and also analyze, interpret, infer, make connections, and form opinions surrounding those facts.  Ok, good luck with all of the above!  The bottom line is this.  History teachers (experienced and inexperienced) need assistance with teaching reading comprehension just like all the rest of us.  So, I’m not knocking the lecturing history teachers out there.  I get it.  I do have one recommendation, though.  If you are a history teacher who is lecturing over 50% of the time, go see your school’s literacy expert. Go to Wiggins’ blog and read the comments to his post.  History teachers had lots to say!

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