In the new American Educator, Jennifer Dubin praises Core Knowledge’s approach to teaching reading and writing in An Early Grades Reading Program Builds Skills and Knowledge.
The gains in reading, science, and social studies made by young students in a Core Knowledge language arts pilot show that the language arts block can be used to develop both the reading skills and the knowledge of the world that are essential to later reading comprehension.
In Core Knowledge schools, teachers read to students from more challenging books than they’d be able to handle on their own, Dubin explains. Each grade focuses on certain knowledge domains. For examples, kindergarteners learn about nursery rhymes and fables, the five senses, stories, plants, farms, Native Americans, kings and queens, seasons and weather, Columbus and the Pilgrims, colonial towns and townspeople, taking care of the Earth and presidents and American symbols.
Several New York City elementary schools tried the Core Knowledge approach with great success.
Before switching, students at a mostly low-income Queens elementary school knew little about the world — not much science, history or geography — says Joyce Barrett-Walker, principal of P.S. 96. Students had been taught reading strategies — find the main idea — but lacked the background knowledge and vocabulary to understand what they read. They had nothing interesting to write about.