Artifact #5

Rocks & Minerals Unit- Teaching Reading in the Content Areas

ED 914 Teaching Reading in the Content Areas

Taken: Spring 2013


Science is a content area that seems to be a love of many students. They are engaged and learning, have the opportunity to try new and interesting things. Students are able to connect their own personal experiences to many things that are taught within the classroom, as well as relate it to other aspects of learning.

The created thematic Rocks and Minerals unit was created as a unit to be implemented within a fourth grade classroom as a requirement for ED 914. It integrates reading, writing and science skills to create a comprehensive knowledge of what rocks and minerals are, how we use them in everyday life, why we study them, and so much more.

Competency 4: Theories, research, and practices for reading instruction in the academic disciplines

Having literature in all aspects of academia is extremely important. It is an essential way in which students acquire new knowledge. So many classrooms contain content specific textbooks, which are a vital portion of the curriculum. In order for students to understand the information within the text, they need to learn strategies as to how. Nonfiction reading can be quite the struggle for many students, especially as they progress through middle and high school. By understanding the essential nature of literature, teachers can utilize reading within their content areas to their benefit and as a positive tool. Students must practice these skills to perfect their use. So for students to make advances, they need to be exposed to all types of literature and in various forms. Just reading out of the content area book does not allow all readers to access the information- the reading must be differentiated. By having print at not only the instructional level but also at the student's independent level, they can better access the learning material and comprehend it's content. And exposure to these resources should be continual, allowing students to revisit the information, gain new knowledge through different pieces, and share with their peers. Allowing students the opportunity to take what they learn through reading and apply their knowledge through hands-on manipulatives and activities to discover new and interesting ideas is supported within many theories and research.

Competency 5: Selection and use of appropriate programs, materials, and technology for Reading

Reading within various content areas happens throughout every day, whether consciously or not. Student read directions, read questions, read textbooks, read notes, etc. They learn what they will be expected to know, how they will gain new information and how they will portray the information that they learned. Without even thinking about it, students have put their literacy skills to work.

Within my science classroom and within the Rocks and Minerals Unit created in ED 914, students explore what types of rocks there are by reading various texts and looking at rock samples and identifying the various characteristics that each one possesses. In order for this unit to be successful, teachers must provide students with reading materials that are of quality and are leveled, allowing students of different reading and learning abilities to access the necessary information in a way suitable to them. Exposing them to different types of print- books, online resources, news articles, etc.- allows students to explore in a safe learning environment.

Competency 6: Knowledge of, and selection criteria for, literature and informational books for children and adolescents

Creating a wealth of engaging, leveled nonfiction reading resources can be quite the challenge for any teacher. But if teachers take the time to seek out the materials, students can gain exposure to great resources that will supplement the necessary curriculum. Within the created Rocks and Minerals unit, I was able to incorporate the given textbook, online readings, Reading A to Z books, magazines, field guides and many other relevant literary resources. Having this plethora of readings available, students were able to pick and choose throughout the unit what materials appealed to them. They enjoyed reading the Reading A to Z books aloud as a class, asking questions, and hearing the ideas that their peers had. The magazines had fun activities and questions within the readings that students could complete. The provided materials were leveled, to a certain extent, and allowed students to choose not only what they wanted, but also what they could access at their independent level. Teachers should keep in mind that nonfiction text can be more difficult for students to comprehend, so encouraging students to work with a partner or within a group should be suggested, at least at the beginning of the unit. As students gain practice with their peers, they will be able to utilize positive comprehension skills which they can transfer into independent practice.

The Reading A to Z Gems books (from connects to the Rocks and Minerals unit. There are three levels to this book- S, V, Y- allowing students to access all information included within the text, at a level that they feel comfortable with. If students are not able to read the texts independently, there is a feature that allows students to hear the book be read to them aloud, highlighting the words as it reads along. This website is a great resource for educators as well as students.

Competency 12: Approaches and practices for writing instruction, including assessment of writing skills and their relationship to reading

Within the unit created for ED 914 on Rocks and Minerals, there are a number of opportunities for students to utilize their writing skills, creating a connection between reading and writing. Students create a list of terms that they predict will be utilized within the unit, they complete a KWL chart as to what they already know and would like to know about the topic, they define the three different types of rocks, they create booklets of the information that they have learned, etc. Each piece of writing and reading utilized throughout the unit are connected.

During the unit, students will complete a writing prompt entitled "Living the Halite." This writing asks students to write from the point of view of salt, known also as Halite. They have to come up with what salt has been used for and write a letter to a human and voice how they have been used and abused for years, without any thanks. This writing has students incorporate their creativity as well as what they have learned about rocks and minerals, while engaging in the writing process. They will need to have included key terms that they have learned in order to create a cohesive piece of writing.

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