Standard #4: Content Knowledge

The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline(s) he or she teaches and creates learning experiences that make these aspects of the discipline accessible and meaningful for learners.

Maine Common Core Teaching Standards

Artifact: Reading Study

The artifact I chose to represent Standard 4 is a reading study. For the reading study, I had to select a passage that related to my discipline (English) to be read by both a novice and an expert in that area of study. I chose a relatively challenging excerpt of Annie Dillard’s essay “Of Frogs and Flowers” that combined both fiction and non-fiction elements along with an abundance of figurative language. Both readers were asked to read the essay out loud and comment on what they were reading at certain intervals. While this was going on, I took notes about what was said about the reading and what literacy strategies were being used. Later, I used these notes to compare how a novice reads compared to an expert and formulate a reflection about what I learned from the study. This artifact fits with Standard 4 because it showcases what I have learned about how readers of various skill levels read texts in my discipline. This is one aspect of developing a deeper understanding of my discipline and the content knowledge required to teach it.

In the process of conducting this reading study, I was able to identify disciplinary literacy strategies used by experts in the English discipline. As a result, in my future as an educator, I can focus on teaching these strategies, which are clearly useful and relevant in my field. This will also allow my future teachings to be more meaningful for students by providing the opportunity for them to practice commonly used, but important strategies for understanding English texts. Additionally, the reading study contributes to me becoming a more metacognitive teacher for similar reasons. Because I have more knowledge regarding the strategies that experts use to comprehend English texts, I can apply the same strategies to enhance my knowledge within the field. Similarly, I also recognized during this project that I am not yet an expert in my field, which will remind me that there is always something I can learn within my discipline.