Flora R. Johnson If we want teachers to implement content area reading and writing strategies in the classroom, we need to change the roles of teachers Teachers in the 21st century are faced with greater challenges than their predecessors ofthe 20th and previous centuries. This can be related to many factors, but one of the greatestfactors is due to the fact that children of the 21st century demand to be involved in their ownlearning. This requires that the teacher must be diversified in his or her instruction so that thestudent can get the most out of the learning process. In order to implement content area readingand writing strategies in the classroom, the teacher must continually find ways to make theinstruction relevant and engaging for the student. Gone are the days when teachers can just use one textbook to teach. This was acceptablein previous centuries because funds were limited to purchase additional resource materials, andthe teacher was thought more of as a lecturer. Today teachers of content literacy do not dependon a one-size-fits-all. The text book was an object that was considered to be precious. Theyoften had to be used for many years so it was important that each student took good personal careof the book to leave it in good physical condition for the next student. Book covers used to bevery popular for this reason. The student was encouraged to keep the book clean so there was nonote marking, underlining or highlighting in the book and these can all be used as effective studyskill strategies. Today’s teacher is viewed more as a facilitator. They only assist the student inorganizing the instruction that is best for him or her. Students need a variety of texts that rangein skill level. Textbooks cannot stand alone just as reading cannot be effective only taught by thelanguage arts teacher. It will therefore take newspapers, magazines, and multi-modal texts such
as: computers, TV, music players, and video games to engage the student. It will also take thecooperation of all content area teachers to integrate reading in the classroom. The role of teachers today involves learning and integrating reading and writing acrossthe curriculum. Although middle grades language arts has been the focus throughout this course;reading, writing, grammar and language usage should be used in other content areas. It can beused to make connections and meaningful conversations. The 20th century teacher simply hadstudents memorizing words and phrases in order to learn spelling and vocabulary words – butteachers in the 21st go far beyond that. Students are now encouraged to develop vocabularystrategies. These strategies can be used as effective communication for different purposes, fordifferent audiences, and in different contexts. For instance, context clues which involve usingvocabulary flashcards can be very effective for those students who have learning disabilities. Onthe other hand, word structure strategies are designed more for the academically gifted andaccelerated learners. Students are given a list of roots and prefixes that vocabulary words arederived from, and from this list they are able to build a strong vocabulary. As lecturers of the past, teachers did not encourage students to think critically. That isone reason students today do not do well on reading comprehension. It is because some teachersstill have not changed their teaching role to fit the needs of the 21st century. The teacher mustuse varied methods of instruction to accommodate different learning styles. As a facilitator, theteacher provides guidance so that the student can find their own way of learning. Then he/shemust also use different resources that support multiple assessment strategies to determine whatthe student has learned. Scores on the EOG/EOC will help to reflect if the new teaching skillswere effective.
Yes, the role of the teacher must change so that they will be able to meet the needs of the21st century student. That is the only way they will be able to provide effective instruction. Thiswill always be an ongoing process that will require time, planning, and continued effort.