Disciplinary Literacy: Big Ideas
Reading as Inquiry
Readers read for various purposes: to learn new information; to examine different points of view on a topic; to be entertained; to find answers to questions and to develop new questions; and to identify, analyze, synthesize, evaluate, and connect important ideas. When students have a specific, clear purpose for reading, they will attend more closely to the text and discover information that addresses their questions and expands their learning.
Teachers often present questions for students to research as they read and write. This provides a model of the kinds of questions proficient readers pose in order to focus their reading. Over time, learning is more effective when students pose relevant questions for which they are genuinely interested in learning the answer. Spires, Hervey, Morris, and Stelpflug (2012) described a cycle of inquiry that moves students from asking questions to publishing and sharing their new learning. This cycle includes the following steps: 1) Ask a compelling question; 2) gather and analyze information; 3) synthesize information; 4) critically evaluate and revise; 5) publish, share, and act (pp. 485–486). The process of inquiry not only provides a framework for reading and responding, but also motivates students to use literacy for authentic purposes to learn content.
Reflect: How and when do you provide opportunities for your students to ask questions and to set purposes before and during reading?