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Learning for Real

Teaching Content and Literacy Across the Curriculum

By Heidi Mills
Foreword by Lucy Calkins

Integrate a balanced literacy approach into every corner of the curriculum. Heidi's approach invites students to experience inquiry while developing four habits necessary for content learning: observing, questioning, gathering evidence, and sharing new learning.

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“In this book,” writes Heidi Mills, “you’ll learn how to plan for inquiry in a way that promotes literacy throughout the day and across the content areas.” With Learning for Real, you’ll find a rich array of resources for truly integrating a balanced literacy approach into every corner of the curriculum.

“We all know how exhilarating it is to learn something new,” writes Heidi, “to develop expertise around a passion.”  She and her colleagues invite students into that experience, while developing five habits necessary for the content learning inside and outside of the classroom:

  • carefully observing the world by using the tools and strategies of a discipline
  • posing questions and investigating problems from numerous perspectives
  • drawing information and evidence from primary and secondary sources, both nonfiction and narrative
  • using the language of inquiry while reflecting on and sharing new learning effectively with others
  • employing reflection and self-evaluation to grow and change.

To help you adapt instruction to your curricular and standards-based goals, Heidi includes planning guidelines, classroom-tested units of study, and from-the-field video clips of exemplar inquiry-driven teaching.

“Provide students with experiences that help them grow into strategic readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, and social scientists,” writes Heidi Mills. “Devote as much time to teaching children how to learn as what to learn.” Link literacy and content with Learning for Real and discover that when students know how to learn, they exceed our expectations, and show what’s possible in genuine inquiry-based classrooms.

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Companion Resources

Chapter 1

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9


"Learning for Real is an indispensable asset to any literacy educator's resource library!"
Midwest Book Review

“If you are anything like me, this journey will change you; it will change you because it will allow you to live your ideals. You will see how focused inquiry can be used to create units that exceed the standards when framed as invitations for children to be engaged, curious, responsible, reflective people.”
—Lucy Calkins, coauthor of Pathways to the Common Core

“Heidi explains how it is possible for students’ questions to lead the development of curriculum. Better yet, she shows what this teaching looks like with classroom video and other resources teachers will return to again and again. This is an important book in an important time.” 
—Katie Wood Ray, author of About the Authors

Related PD Services


Email if you would like to contact Heidi Mills directly about professional development support.