Regarding the “Time in Text” Concept
This school year one of the big catch phrases regarding literacy instruction is “time in text.” This concept is one of our district’s main focuses. We are finding in our observation data that students are not getting enough time during the day to encounter text and they are not being held responsible for wrestling with the features and ideas presented in the literature. These findings correlate with data gathered from around our state. With the latest NAEP data revealing that reading scores have remained relatively flat across our nation once again, students not spending enough quality time with quality text has been one of the hypothesized culprits. My guess is the same could be true of literacy instruction in your district and even your own classroom, too. How do we approach time in text?
I still believe it comes down to integration of all literacy skills within worthwhile texts used in class. The more time students spend in books, the better readers they become. No, I’m not talking about kiddos becoming readers through osmosis! Students will not become better readers through simply holding books. However, making books an exciting part of your classroom is a great start. The texts you teach your concepts from need to be selected carefully and build knowledge sequentially. Don’t just think of a comprehension skill you need to teach and then find a book that will work. Look for quality literature and see what comprehension skills naturally lend themselves to be taught through the pages in the story. Graphic organizers can help students collect their thoughts, but don’t let filling out a graphic be the whole point of the literacy instruction. Graphic organizers are more about getting the students talking about the text constructively. Time in text does not mean just adding silent sustained reading times to your classroom schedule. It includes time for discussion and application of what was learned.
Yes, I’m a huge supporter of all things foundational skills. However, more and more of these skills can be reinforced through the text. Yes, you should have decodable text at times in early literacy instruction, but you should not live there. Any application activities, such as incorporating grammar though writing, should explicitly tie back to the text used in class. Spend less time in the I DO part of the lesson and more time with students in the YOU DO part of the lesson. Yes, it is necessary to meet students where they are instructionally and find books on their level. When you are able, though, give students a say in what they are reading. Students will need to spend time in texts above their level, too, to help push them along. Ask authentic questions about the texts they are reading and give students time to really talk through what they are reading and thinking. A key word there is TIME. It won’t happen overnight, but giving students plenty of time in text is a worthwhile cause and not just a silly catchphrase in education that should quickly fade away. Time in text may be a simple concept, but when implemented properly, both teacher and students will surely reap the benefits!