National Academies Press: OpenBook

Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy (2010)

Chapter: Appendix B: How Teachers Learn Critical Knowledge and Skills: Tracing One Example

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: How Teachers Learn Critical Knowledge and Skills: Tracing One Example." National Research Council. 2010. Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12882.
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Appendix B
How Teachers Learn Critical Knowledge and Skills: Tracing One Example

Learning Objective

Reading diverse text with understanding.

Student’s Opportunity to Learn

Develop and enhance language and meta-cognitive skills to meet the demands of specific printed texts.


Experience supported opportunities to learn to interpret diverse kinds of texts for diverse purposes.

Teacher Study

Linguistic and psychological studies:

  • development of oral and written language abilities, including relations among meta-cognitive abilities, print processing abilities, and comprehension abilities

  • theories of text-comprehension

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: How Teachers Learn Critical Knowledge and Skills: Tracing One Example." National Research Council. 2010. Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12882.
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Pedagogy of reading (teaching and assessing):

  • activities to develop and practice comprehension and metacognition strategies on oral language, on written text read aloud, and as the student reads independently

  • activities to develop concepts and words (oral and written)

  • activities to develop the skills needed to lead text-based discussions focused on constructing the meaning of text and engaging in knowledge building with text

Teacher’s Opportunity to Demonstrate Knowledge

Suppose a linguistically/culturally diverse student in your classroom has excellent decoding skills but has trouble comprehending the texts you assign. What are some reasons why comprehension may be a problem for this student?


Describe the interplay between prior knowledge and reading strategies as students read and comprehend a text on a particular topic.


Analyze a text for its affordances and challenges and identify probing questions that will assess students’ understanding of the content.


Discuss the purpose and use of comprehension strategies. When do readers use them? How do they contribute to reading comprehension?


Discuss how readers’ perspectives influence what they comprehend and interpret from a text.

Teacher’s Opportunity to Demonstrate Practice

Select a text that you or your cooperating teacher uses as part of the regular curriculum—this could be a selection in a basal reading program or a leveled text or a trade book. Read through the text and identify the likely areas where your linguistically/culturally diverse student may have trouble comprehending the text. Plan a lesson that builds or activates prior knowledge to build a bridge between what your student knows and the new information the student needs to understand the text better.


Select two different, but relatively easy, texts for your students to read, one on a familiar topic and one on an unfamiliar topic. Develop, conduct, and evaluate a lesson in which you show students how you can read texts on a familiar topic by activating and using prior knowledge. Then show them

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: How Teachers Learn Critical Knowledge and Skills: Tracing One Example." National Research Council. 2010. Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12882.
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how you often use comprehension strategies to comprehend a text on the unfamiliar topic since you do not have much background information on which to rely.


Select a text that will be used in content instruction (a text book or trade book). Identify a set of learning goals appropriate to the use of that text; identify semantic and linguistic features that might impede students’ comprehension of the text, script how you will launch the discussion of the text, and script a set of probing questions that you will use to guide a discussion of the text so that the discussion is consistent with your learning goals and reflects the textual challenges.


Read a text on a topic with which you are very unfamiliar. As you read, think about and list the different comprehension strategies you use to assist you in making sense of this difficult text. In a small group, discuss with your peers the strategies you used and the reasons why you used them. Next use a think-aloud to assess a typical third-grader’s comprehension abilities as the student reads a text. Make a list of the specific strategies the student uses. Compare and contrast these lists with your peers. Develop a profile of a typical third-grade reader’s strategies for comprehending text.


Develop, implement and evaluate a comprehension lesson where students learn how to revisit a story from a different perspective. Then, ask students to write a story of their choosing from a perspective that is different from the one taken by the author of the story.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: How Teachers Learn Critical Knowledge and Skills: Tracing One Example." National Research Council. 2010. Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12882.
×

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: How Teachers Learn Critical Knowledge and Skills: Tracing One Example." National Research Council. 2010. Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12882.
×
Page 207
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: How Teachers Learn Critical Knowledge and Skills: Tracing One Example." National Research Council. 2010. Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12882.
×
Page 208
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: How Teachers Learn Critical Knowledge and Skills: Tracing One Example." National Research Council. 2010. Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12882.
×
Page 209
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: How Teachers Learn Critical Knowledge and Skills: Tracing One Example." National Research Council. 2010. Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12882.
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Teachers make a difference. The success of any plan for improving educational outcomes depends on the teachers who carry it out and thus on the abilities of those attracted to the field and their preparation. Yet there are many questions about how teachers are being prepared and how they ought to be prepared. Yet, teacher preparation is often treated as an afterthought in discussions of improving the public education system.

Preparing Teachers addresses the issue of teacher preparation with specific attention to reading, mathematics, and science. The book evaluates the characteristics of the candidates who enter teacher preparation programs, the sorts of instruction and experiences teacher candidates receive in preparation programs, and the extent that the required instruction and experiences are consistent with converging scientific evidence. Preparing Teachers also identifies a need for a data collection model to provide valid and reliable information about the content knowledge, pedagogical competence, and effectiveness of graduates from the various kinds of teacher preparation programs.

Federal and state policy makers need reliable, outcomes-based information to make sound decisions, and teacher educators need to know how best to contribute to the development of effective teachers. Clearer understanding of the content and character of effective teacher preparation is critical to improving it and to ensuring that the same critiques and questions are not being repeated 10 years from now.

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