Building Reading Lessons

Good reading lessons include several different types of activities. Some activities build skills; others focus on the meaning of the text. Some activities encourage students to think about new ideas. Activities should be enjoyable, and all of them should give students a chance to show they can do something well or come up with good answers. Also, all of them should keep students thinking and doing things, not just sitting there watching.

Let’s go back to the recipe idea. Most recipes include two parts: a list of ingredients and a set of instructions. In cooking, there are some key ingredients that go into almost everything. These are the main things our foods are made of. Almost every kitchen has them—for example, flour, sugar, salt, pepper, water, eggs, oil, and so on. These key ingredients can be found in lots of recipes. There might also be some special ingredients, ones you have to buy specifically for that recipe. The recipe’s steps tell you how to combine the ingredients—both the common and specialty ones—to create the dish you’re cooking.

The ingredients and steps of recipes are a bit like the scope and sequence of instruction. There are key ingredients in reading lessons. These consist of the skills and knowledge that students must acquire in order to become more competent readers. There may be specialty ingredients, too (new subject-specific vocabulary, perhaps). These are the scope, or parts, of reading that a lesson uses. The steps of the recipe are just like the steps of the lesson. They tell you the sequence for combining prior knowledge with instruction to generate new learning.