The Many Benefits of Teacher Guided Reading
Reading is one of the best ways for students to learn. It helps develop the mind and imagination. It builds vocabulary and reasoning skills. Teacher guided reading lets students explore new ideas, learn about history, and improves their understanding of the world around them. Reading and discussing stories and novels with your children reinforces the lessons you as the parent educator want them to learn. Thus, reading can be a great — and enjoyable — way to teach children a variety of subjects.
Reading as a Catalyst for a Civics Lesson
Here’s a great example of how classic novels can help children learn about today’s world. The students in Miss Sylvia’s 7th/8th grade class at Horizon’s Lincoln Montessori started the school year by reading Animal Farm. First published in 1945, the book is one of English author George Orwell’s best-known works. Orwell also penned the classic science fiction novel 1984.
Masterfully written as an anti-Soviet satire, Animal Farm begins as the barnyard animals revolt against their cruel master and take over the farm. At first everyone works willingly, and all the animals reap the benefits. But soon, two of the pigs set themselves up as leaders and become drunk with power and privilege. They end up selling out the revolution for their own benefit. The rest of the animals suffer as a result. In then end, the masses are no better than they were before the revolution.
Montessori Students Learn Many Lessons from Animal Farm
Orwell uses life on a farm as an allegory for the Russian Revolution. He wanted to warn the world about what he perceived as the threat of Soviet Dictator Joseph Stalin’s form of socialism. Miss Sylvia used guided, open-ended discussions to tie the fable into a civics lesson. Soon, her students realized that many of the lessons the animals learn in the fable are as relevant today as they were 70 years ago.
First, she set ground rules for her small Montessori class. There were no right or wrong answers. As with all their discussions, everyone would be respectful of their classmate’s opinions. This provided a safe environment for the children to learn and explore ideas. It allowed the children the opportunity to voice their thoughts without the fear of being judged or bullied.
Then, Miss Sylvia asked her students, “How do you build a ‘fair’ society?” She also posed the question of the role of government in our everyday lives. These types of discussions got her class thinking and talking about laws, education, economics and ideology. These talks became a springboard to tie reading into other areas of study.
Art Project Reinforces Themes, Broadens Understanding
Miss Sylvia also incorporated activities to connect the novel from the last century into current events. The class discussed the use of propaganda on the farm to sway the animals’ opinions. As a corresponding activity, Miss Sylvia asked each student to create a poster depicting some of the biased or misleading information provided by the pigs. This activity led to a discussion about “Fake News” which is a subject we’ve heard so much about in recent headlines. The 7th and 8th graders became very animated once they connected the propaganda from the barnyard to events happening around them today.
Make Learning Come Alive for Your Child
Animal Farm is just one example of a classic novel that can come alive for children with the right guidance, reinforcement and activities. Integrating stories and books into lesson plans for history, government, and other subjects helps reinforce themes for students of all ages and makes learning more enjoyable. Adding in art, science, or other projects leads to a more well-rounded academic experience. That’s what Horizon’s home study and Montessori programs are all about.
If you homeschool through Horizon and need assistance with cross-curriculum ideas, ask your supervising teacher.
For more information about Horizon’s Lincoln Montessori Community Co-op, contact them at 916-408-5225.