Posted by: waldropcv | May 26, 2010

From Efficient Decoders to Strategic Readers – Richard T. Vacca

This article seems to have more importance to people in the English education major (like me!) as it criticizes many teachers do not groom students into developing readers.  Many teachers assume that at a point around seventh grade, the students have learned to read how they are going to read and that they need no more help to become literate (or at least better readers).  But that doesn’t seem to be the case at all.  A study showing that more than fifty percent of students from the thirty five largest cities in the United States entering high school read at a sixth grade level or below.  Teachers, especially English teachers, cannot stop developing students’ reading skills ever.  The skill to read is something that is always changing and becoming more advanced.  Most people need developing in their literacy skills throughout their entire life.  As the term literacy does not only apply to reading books, but it also applies to understanding and using the ever-evolving technology around us.

However, as Vacca points out, it is not only up to English teachers to develop students’ reading habits and skills.  Graphic organizers are a good way to help the students in this area in areas other than English.  I have used these in many different subjects throughout my schooling.  If teachers continue to use activities such as these then hopefully students will grow into strategic readers in a world where that is becoming more and more important.



  1. Chris,
    As a fellow English major, I couldn’t agree with you more. It almost made me sick at my stomach to see that students are not taught reading comprehension skills past the 7th grade. What happens when these students become high school English students in our future classrooms? These kids will be so fed up and confused that the subject that we adore so much will be a scary monster for them. This really scares me. I did take comfort in the fact that the history teacher is trying to incorporate reading stratigies within his classroom.

    Carey Sink

  2. I agree that the statistics that Vacca uses are very disheartening. I feel almost overwhelmed at the prospect of teaching when so many students are below where they should be. Though I can see that we need to help students increase their understanding of reading in many different content areas I think it is crap that as English teachers we should be responsible for all every disciplines reading style. I think that the history teacher mentioned in the article has the right idea for helping his history students understand the history material that they read.

    Justin Weltz

  3. I read Justin’s and Carey’s responses above as well as Vacca’s article. For the record, I’m glad that there are English education majors such as yourselves preparing to make a difference in the area of reading content in the upper grades. Having two elementary aged children, I am concerned for their educational future and how and what will be taught by the time they reach middle school in a few years. So I would encourage you to embrace the ideas given by Vacca.

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