The 2018−2019 school year is known as the “learning year,” the time educators study the TEKS that will be implemented in 2019−2020. The previous post in this blog series discusses the first practical step for learning the strands, the knowledge and skills statements, and the student expectations: reading within the strands. This post offers the second step.

Reading across the strands.

After an understanding of each of the seven strands has been achieved, it is important to consider how the strands can be interwoven to create meaningful learning opportunities. The seven strands, when conceptualized as forming a whole, suggest that literacy development is most effective when the content-specific domains are integrated rather than isolated.

In the past, the “Composition” and “Research and Inquiry” strands might have been conceptualized as those taught down the hall by “the writing teacher” or those addressed on certain days of the week. But teaching the ELAR domains in isolation can lead students to regard reading, writing, speaking, and listening as separate acts.

Teaching that integrates the ELAR domains means that students come to understand that the development of literacy skills is a cognitive process in which, for example, reading shapes and challenges our perspectives, speaking causes us to clarify our own thinking, listening to others’ ideas challenges our own thinking, and writing—modeled on our reading—allows us to explore craft and to add to our writing toolbox.

Questions to ask as you look across the strands:

  • How do the seven strands help create a vision for instruction in which reading, writing, viewing, listening, speaking, and thinking are integrated?
  • How does instruction that moves across the strands, rather than isolates the strands as separate parts, provide students with opportunities to view literacy development as a cognitive process rather than as tasks assigned and graded by the teacher?
  • How do the knowledge and skills statements reveal the intentions of the strands, and how are those intentions supported by research-based best practices?
  • Considering your current instructional approaches, how do you plan instruction that integrates the ELAR domains, and how might envisioning instruction that moves across the strands provide students with meaningful opportunities for literacy development?

In the next blog post, we’ll explore the third step: Reading across the grades.