A little over a year ago, I saw Dan Willingham give a talk at the Education Trust conference in Washington, DC titled “Teaching Content is Teaching Reading.” He demonstrated convincingly why background knowledge is essential to reading comprehension–and why broad, content-rich education is the best way to ensure kids can understand what they read. Having been force-fed the idea that all kids needed is the ability to decode, vocabulary and “reading strategies” in order to comprehend, I thought – I still do — the phrase “teaching content is teaching reading” ought to be on the lips of every elementary educator in America.
Dan has made an intriguing video on the main ideas of his presentation and posted it on YouTube. It’s terrific.
Great work, Dr. Willingham. If you know an elementary school teacher, forward the link to Dan’s video.