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American Educator
Spring 2006


Table of Contents


Knowledge: The Next Frontier in Reading Comprehension

Building Knowledge

The Case for Bringing Content into the Language Arts Block and for a Knowledge-Rich Curriculum Core for All Children
By E. D. Hirsch, Jr.

The evidence is clear: Reading comprehension depends largely on knowledge. Further, children, especially poor children, depend on schools to impart that knowledge. It should certainly be imparted in reading classes, which now often take up to two hours per day in elementary school. And, it should be imparted systematically, from an early age, across subjects, guided by a knowledge-rich, grade-by-grade curriculum core that is shared across schools and, preferably, across districts.

What Do Reading Comprehension Tests Mainly Measure? Knowledge

Engaging Kids with Content: "The Kids Love It" (PDF)

How We Neglect Knowledge—and Why (PDF)
By Susan B. Neuman

Why the Absence of a Content-Rich Curriculum Core Hurts Poor Children Most (PDF)

How Knowledge Helps
It Speeds and Strengthens Reading Comprehension, Learning—and Thinking
By Daniel T. Willingham

Acquiring knowledge does for the brain what exercise does for the body: The more you learn, the better your brain functions. Knowledge is not only cumulative, it grows exponentially. So, the more you know, the more easily you learn new things. Knowledge improves your ability to remember new things, and it actually improves the quality and speed of your thinking.

Knowledge in the Classroom

Virtual Exhibits, Genuine Learning
Museums' Web Sites Are Nearly as Fascinating as the Museums Themselves—and Much More Comprehensive

Can't take the class to the museum? With online exhibits, you can bring the museum to the class instead. Hoping to entice you to start your own search of museum Web sites, we give you a taste of a few museum sites on Ernest Hemingway, Petra, and 19th-century art and literature.

Conjuring Willa Cather
A Teacher on the Magic of Good Examples
By Patricia R. Pickard

As a budding writer, Patricia Pickard read, reread, studied, copied word-for-word—and then copied in spirit—her favorite author, Willa Cather. As a teacher, she realized that Willa Cather had modeled writing for her—and that in order to succeed in the classroom, she would have to find equally powerful models for her students.

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About American Educator

American Educator is a quarterly journal of educational research and ideas published by the American Federation of Teachers. Recent articles have focused on such topics as reducing the achievement gap between poor and affluent students, heading off student discipline problems, teaching an appreciation and understanding of democracy, the benefits of a common coherent curriculum, and other issues affecting children and education here and abroad. Total circulation, as of our most recent issue, is over 900,000.

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