Part 2:

     The Units in Part 2 of the Going the Distance: Reading website have argued that curricular units on reading consist of at least five phases (pre-reading, initial reading, reading to integrate knowledge, short- and long-genre production), and that the five phases must build on each other in light of the Standards.  Moreover, such curricular units must build on each other both cognitively and linguistically, so that students increase their abilities to comprehend a text and produce language on the basis of that comprehension.

     Most crucially, teachers should be careful to match the input into a task (what kinds of linguistic and cognitive readiness their students have, and how that readiness is focused on the task at hand) with the output they expect (what Standards the tasks further).  If these criteria are upheld, teachers across the curricula can reuse reading materials, all the time spiraling upward on the task difficulty applied to them.  In a very real sense, there are few age-appropriate texts which are too difficult to be read by a foreign-language student, but there are many tasks which are too difficult, even while they look simple.

     In describing the various levels at which a reading text can be used, we are arguing that most reading activities (in the traditional sense) are too difficult for Grade 4 learners, but that pre-reading activities that use texts without actually reading them as message systems must be introduced into the classroom, so that various skills required to fulfill Standards are introduced.  Grade 4 students will also probably engage primarily with communication and connection standards -- the ones with single triangles, because at this age, students are neither socially nor cognitively ready to perform more complex negotiations with cultures, comparisons, or communities.

     By Grade 8, however, students should be engaged more actively with texts, working through Phases 1 through 3 (as described in Units 4 through 6).  These students are nearing cognitive maturity, and have a considerable amount of social experience.  They must therefore be engaged with many activities furthering the communication and connection standards, and they are ready to work on the culture and comparison standards more fully.  If they are not linguistically prepared in German (if they are just starting in a German curriculum), they can still begin to engage with German culture and make comparisons, even if they are using English to express their insights.

     Students in Grade 12, just as those in the college curriculum, should be exposed to the short- and long-genre production exercises required in Phases 4 and 5 (as described in Unit 7).  Without such practice in locating and assimilating the social/cultural information that will enable them to compare cultural features and join communities, they will not be able to perform the age-appropriate tasks that the Standards suggest as appropriate.  Reading must therefore be tied closely to production exercises, because comprehension cannot remain in the abstract, but is demonstrated most suitably through students' involved production on the basis of the world (the community and the culture) of the text, making connections and comparisons, not only communicating their own subjective reactions, moods, and desires.

     Finally, as curricula and facilities permit, reading skills should be extended to the electronic media: "reading" video and audio clips, and websites.  The latter were the focus of the exercises outlined in Unit 8.  The WorldWideWeb is a very novel medium that requires particularly high-level reading skills: unless the reader approaches the web with clear goals in mind, s/he is very likely to get lost in a maze, since the web offers many coherent building blocks of information, but few finished messages.

     "Reading" the web in terms of the Standards means that the connections, culture, comparisons, and communities have to be set up by the tasks that make the students synthesize actively.  Unless tasks further that synthesis, the web can be as much a distracter as a facilitator for special kinds of cultural learning.  In the best curricular scenario, a web task is Phase 6 of a reading assignment: a place for a student to exercise his or her own judgment about what is to be learned in the act of reading, but a place with very clear boundaries for successful comprehension and production, as described in the Standards -- the student must exercise independent judgment in reading, but that reading must be directed towards clear goals that expand students' skills in fulfilling the Standards in appropriate fashion.

     A final note: younger students will need to be walked through these Phases step by step, because they are not necessarily ready to structure their own learning actively; poorly-prepared older students may need to have their learning environments structured carefully, as well.  In contrast, older or more mature students (well-prepared Grade 8 students and all non-remedial Grade 12 students) may benefit from knowing explicitly about the developmental sequence that the teacher is structuring, moving from pre-reading (Phase 1) through long-genre production and the web (Phases 5 and 6).  For these older students, the assignments for the various phases may be profitably gathered into a worksheet that indicates how one phase builds on another.  (For an example of a blank worksheet, followed by examples of how it can be filled out and implemented, see the sample worksheets included here.)