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Subjects Matter, Second Edition

Exceeding Standards Through Powerful Content-Area Reading

By Harvey "Smokey" Daniels, Steven Zemelman

The standards require content specialists to become teachers of disciplinary thinking through students’ reading. If this shift sounds like a tough one, Steve and Smokey share exactly what you need to help students read nonfiction content closely and strategically.

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“To help every kid fall in love with at least one field of knowledge, our students must encounter our fields’ most galvanizing, tantalizing, and pivotal documents. This book is about making those encounters as compelling as we can make them.”
—Harvey “Smokey” Daniels and Steven Zemelman

We are specialists to the bone—in science, math, social studies, art, music, business, and foreign language. But now, the Common Core and state standards require us to help our students better understand the distinctive texts in our subject areas. “Nobody’s making us into reading teachers,” write Smokey Daniels and Steve Zemelman, “but we must become teachers of disciplinary thinking through our students’ reading.”

If this shift sounds like a tough one, Subjects Matter, Second Edition is your solution. Smokey and Steve, two of America’s most popular educators, share exactly what you need to help students read your nonfiction content closely and strategically:

  • 27 proven teaching strategies that help meet—and exceed—the standards
  • how-to suggestions for engaging kids with content through wide, real-world reading
  • a lively look at using “boring” textbooks
  • motivating instruction that’s powered by student collaboration
  • specifics for helping struggling readers succeed.

Subjects Matter, Second Edition enables deep, thoughtful learning for your students, while keeping the irreverent, inspiring heart that’s made the first edition indispensable. You’ll discover fresh and re-energized lessons, completely updated research, and vibrant vignettes from new colleagues and old friends who have as much passion for their subjects as you do.

“We’ll be using methods particular to our fields as well as engaging reading materials that help students understand and remember our content better,” write Smokey and Steve. “We can realize that vision of the light going on in kids’ heads and maybe fill them with enthusiasm about the amazing subject matter that we have to offer. Sound good? Let’s get to work.”

Read a sample chapter from Subjects Matter, Second Edition.

Additional Resource Information

(click any section below to continue reading)


1. The Core Purposes of Reading
2. How Smart Readers Think
3. Why Textbooks Are Not Enough
4. Toward a Balanced Diet of Reading
5. Tools for Thinking: Reading Strategies Across the Curriculum 


  • Think-Alouds
  • Reading Aloud
  • Frontloading with Images
  • KWL
  • Prereading Quiz (PRQ)
  • Dramatic Role-Play
  • Vocabulary Predictions
  • Partner Reading
  • Post-it Response Notes
  • Annotating Text
  • Coding Text
  • Multicolumn Notes
  • Sketching My Way Through the Text 
  • Turn and Talk 
  • Tweet the Text 
  • Exit Slips and Admit Slips 
  • Word Wall 
  • Word Meaning Graphic Organizer 
  • Vocabulary Tree 
  • List-Group-Label
  • Clustering and Mapping 
  • Written Conversation 
  • Second Helpings 
  • Where Do You Stand?
  • RAFT Essay 
  • Password

6. How to Use a Textbook
7. Building a Community of Learners
8. Independent Reading Workshop in Content Areas
9. Content-Area Book Clubs
10. Inquiry Units
11. Help for Struggling Readers
12. Recommendations from Reading Research



"This is a superbly written and presented instructional manual for classroom teachers.... Very highly recommended."
Midwest Book Review

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Email if you would like to contact Harvey "Smokey" Daniels directly about professional development support.


Email if you would like to contact Steven Zemelman directly about professional development support.