Not sure what compelling content-based instruction looks like anymore?
Check out the Literacy Through Photography movement:
Then run out and buy I Wanna Take Me a Picture by Wendy Ewald. She explains why photography is so compelling for students.
One caveat would be that this book focuses on writing, and we know the focus should be on reading. You’ll need to bring in a lot of ability-appropriate texts. However, unforced writing about something children created themselves can be a compelling response to reading.
Talking and writing about what you read creates a shared reading experience and generates excitement, which lowers the affective filter.
As Krashen wrote in 2005, we ” write to solve problems” which can help us process what we just read. Writing doesn’t help us learn to write, but when unforced, it can enhance reading. Reading helps us learn to write.
The formula for me is: reading, talking about what we read, unforced writing about what we read, re-reading, and celebrating what we’ve learned through revisiting (rereading and perhaps unforced revising) what we wrote.
Notice writing happens once, reading happens over and over.
As always, the texts must offer compelling comprehensible input and take off the pressure to produce output. The text we provide is not from textbook, but rather teacher-created materials. I love the Literacy Through Photography movement in part because the movement is so big that there are many resources out there for busy teachers. Here are a few of my own and some lesson plans I’m going to start the year with: