Book of the Month

World Without Trees

How can we prepare students for success with content-area texts?

Many students — even students who have never had difficulty with reading—struggle when they begin to encounter the textbooks required in the middle and upper grades. 

Content-area textbooks are complex — densely packed with information and full of specialized vocabulary, multisyllabic words, and a dizzying array of charts, graphs, diagrams, maps, and other graphics.

It’s no wonder that students struggle to read and understand them, especially if their reading instruction has always been in the context of simple fiction and nonfiction books.

Models like the simple view of reading and Scarborough’s reading rope have attempted to capture the skills required for proficient reading. The most recent and comprehensive model is the active view of reading developed by Nell Duke and Kelly Cartwright.

The active view model shows very clearly that — as any reading teacher can tell you — skilled reading includes much more than simple decoding and comprehension skills

Students also need background and vocabulary knowledge, strategies for working with words and texts, and the motivation and engagement required to put in the time and effort (Duke & Cartwright, 2021).

These closely interwoven skills are required for reading even the simplest texts. But given the right instruction and practice, they continue to grow and develop, allowing students to read and understand texts that are more and more complex. 

Helping students learn and integrate all these skills is not simple. 

That’s why JillE Literacy includes complex content-area texts in its small-group resources, with explicit and systematic instruction built into every book. 

This unique combination of materials and support helps students develop the multitude of skills they need in an authentic and engaging context, in the process building knowledge, confidence, and proficiency.

How does JillE Literacy support the science of reading?

What does the instructional support look like in JillE Literacy?

In JillE Literacy, every small-group title includes six student versions and one unique teaching version

In these pages from World Without Trees, a small-group book from the Grade 3 kit, you can see that the teaching version on the right is identical to the student version on the left in every way except for the additional teaching panel, which includes detailed notes for guiding the lesson in real time and for explicitly supporting a wide range of reading skills, including decoding, word analysis, vocabulary, comprehension strategies, critical thinking, and the structure and features of complex texts.

A corresponding lesson card provides even more support for teaching decoding and word analysis skills, plus strategies and scaffolds for English learners and five additional activities for meaningful independent learning.

Inside the books, Partner Talk and Going Solo activities on the final few pages springboard from reading to talking to writing on topics related to the books — in this case, giving a well-reasoned opinion supported with facts (something many students struggle with).

In these valuable post-reading activities, student talk builds a bridge from reading to writing with scaffolded activities that help students recognize that if they can say it, they can write it. 

Printable graphic organizers and other activities provide even more support for writing and other key skills.

World Without Trees comes from the Grade 3 Small-Group Resources kit to support their use and understanding of complex content-area texts.

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