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Holmes Teacher: New Standards Right to Require Fiction & Non-Fiction Reading in All Classes

Seventh-grade science teacher and instructional coach at Holmes Middle School, Hallie Hundemer-Booth supports the new common core standards that require a combination of fiction and non-fiction reading in all classes. Hundemer-Booth wrote an opinion column that was published in the Lexington Herald-Leader last week:


As a middle-school science teacher, I have insight into the key role that reading plays in my classroom. The days of teaching science solely with a textbook — going chapter by chapter with little variation — have long passed.

I have the job of providing a diverse set of texts and media to create a rich environment where the students use real-world experiences and events to discuss and create a hypothesis and explain a theory.

As scientists, we are asked to look at material, determine the validity and support our positions with specific facts. As teachers we must provide the students with this base of knowledge.

Students must be taught to look for facts versus fiction, take notes and analyze statements and vocabulary they are unsure of to defend in writing their positions.

To ensure this occurs, a range of different texts should be used in the classroom.

While non-fiction will always be the main type of reading in a science classroom — including scientific journals and reference texts — fictional readings can provide an engaging and thought-provoking look into the future, environmental issues and scientific current problems.

Fictional media also can be powerfully paired with non-fictional texts to create a debate, develop technology, problem-solve for solutions, and see how life follows science fiction.

The key is making sure we consistently use material that is at grade level or above in our lessons.

Students need to be exposed to challenging readings (fiction or non-fiction) that require them to read carefully, understand an idea or argument using evidence from the text and be able to articulate their summary though writing.
We do students a disservice if we water down the material and keep them at their reading level, as it is only through practice with sufficiently complex texts that students can progress as readers.
The entire column was re-published by the Kentucky School Board Association and you can read that by clicking here. Hundemer-Booth was invited to New York City in September by NBC to participate in a panel discussion on the common core. To see that report, click here.
Photo: Hallie Hundemer-Booth/Covington Independent Public Schools