Reading Outside Our Field

By Lois E. Huffman, Ph.D.

When I was in grad school at Purdue University, one of my education professors recommended reading in other disciplines. He said it’s an excellent way to bring fresh perspectives and novel ideas to classroom practice. Although he didn’t mention it at the time, this is akin to the broad reading we literacy educators encourage our elementary and secondary students to do to expand their world and word knowledge.

I took my professor’s advice to heart, and over the years, have read journal articles and blog posts from agriculture, art and design, business, DIY, economics, history, healthful living, human resources, linguistics, psychology, along with science and technology. As a result, I have encountered concepts, philosophies, and teachvocabulary that have enriched my life and encouraged me to reflect more deeply on my work as an educator. This interdisciplinary reading has likewise helped me connect with my undergraduate and graduate students who teach or plan to teach in fields other than literacy.

Below are three of the “non-education” blogs I follow. I hope you will check them out and consider reading them regularly. Who knows what insights and information you can apply to your literacy and language instruction!

Business and Marketing

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

Seth Godin is a marketer, entrepreneur, and author. One of his recent posts focused on The Tragedy of Small Expectations (and the Trap of False Dreams). I wish every educator would read this post. Here’s an excerpt:

“…Expectations that don’t match what’s possible are merely false dreams. And expectations that are too small are a waste. We need teachers and leaders and peers who will help us dig in deeper and discover what’s possible, so we can push to make it likely….”

DIY

http://www.aliceandlois.com/

Twin sisters Sarah Albers and Melissa Fenlon are the creatives behind this blog which is named for their grandmothers. The blog offers inspiration and how-to’s for crafts and other projects that can be modified for learners at different levels. For example:

Be part of the Maker Movement that is capturing the imaginations of students and teachers across the country. (edutopia.org/blog/diy-edcamps-makerfaires-tedx)

Science and Technology

http://www.sciencedaily.com/

The tagline for this site is “Your Source for the Latest Research News.” Linked articles address a variety of topics, such as Health and Medicine, Mind and Brain, Living Well, Physical Science and Technology, and Environmental Sciences. 

A recent Science Daily post, titled “We Think Better on Our Feet, Literally” reported on a Texas A & M University study which showed that students in Grades 2-4 had 12 percent greater on-task engagement in classrooms with standing desks. (Full disclosure: I’ve long been a proponent of incorporating more movement in PK-12 education. Several years ago I presented on “Vocabulary in Motion” at the NCRA Conference.)

Harry S. Truman said that “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” As teacher leaders in literacy, let’s model wide reading for our students and use it to increase our professional knowledge and effectiveness. What “non-education” blogs would you recommend?

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