This week, we read a lot about the different types of literacies and how they are formed gradually throughout a child's education. One of the striking research findings for me was how American students ranked worldwide in terms of grade level and reading ability. According to the international study, "Fourth-grade U.S. students performed among the best in the world, but eighth graders scored considerably lower, and 10th graders ranked among the lowest of the nations studied" (Buehl, 22). This is pretty disconcerting, since most of us will be teaching high schoolers whose reading skills are potentially at very different levels. How do we address this on a practical level? In a classroom, you will have students who are forming "disciplinary literacy" and others who may have intermediate or even basic levels of literacy. How can we a) maintain a cohesive class with all of these various levels of readers and b) what activities could help all student thrive in terms of literacy, regardless of their starting point?
Another thought that crossed my mind as I read about disciplinary literacy was how the techniques its stresses are often at odds with the goals of standardized tests. Disciplinary literacy stresses a student's ability to engage deeply with the texts that they are presented-- students should be able to make connections across text, synthesize knowledge, and infer the author's message and tone. However, this pretty much exactly contradicts what students are asked to do on the ACT and other standardized tests-- skim the reading, look directly for answers, and oftentimes ignore the meanings of texts for the sake of finishing an exam. Since I feel like both reading strategies are something that the students will have to apply at some point in their high school careers, how can we as educators allow the two to coexist while stressing deeper reading comprehension?