Ed Week has a feature article here describing the efforts on an eighth grade English/language arts teacher to directly teach the kind of sophisticated reading skills demanded by common core assessments. Really, the article itself is so long and boring that—no matter what you think about direct teaching—you have instant sympathy for the kids exposed to it. I’m a fast reader and I could barely make it through.
You think this kind of direct teaching of reading skills works? Consider these questions:
Do children learn to understand oral language by being dragged through exercises? Or do they learn it by being continually surrounded by it: having people talk to them, talking to other people, even talking to themselves. By the age of three-and-a-half, virtually all children without a language-based disability will have acquired complex oral language. Anything after than is polish.
Are the children who score as advanced readers subjected to more of this kind of drill? My experience is that my top readers hated these kind of boring exercises and did everything they could to avoid them.
Children only acquire the kind of sophisticated reading skills that enable them to understand tone and nuance and, yes, main ideas, by falling in love with books, and reading everything they can get their hands on. Tediously dragging kids through boring (to them) paragraphs is worse than a waste of time; it turns kids off to books. The time would be much better spent allowing the children to choose books they love, and just sit and read.