"Through the Eyes of the Blue and the Gray" - a classbook by 5th graders studying the Civil War
Stephanie Harvey, in Nonfiction Matters, said, "Inquiry requires that we dig beneath the surface to explore a topic, dwell in it, wonder about it, and find out information. This is active learning whereby students explore their passions and curiosity, pursue topics of interest, ask questions, conduct primary and secondary research, read for meaningful content, organize and synthesize information, craft authentic reports, and present and report findings-and gain new understanding in the process." All of these processes Harvey mentions depend upon literacy that extends across the curriculum. If students are engaged in learning, then the processes necessary to facilitate this learning will be engaged in gladly with enthusiasm once the students are taught how to use them.
A child may be a great decoder, but that's only one step toward becoming a fluent reader. Reading implies thinking and understanding, and teachers can help children develop strategies for comprehension. Children need to know how to make connections and ask questions, how to visualize and infer, how to extract important ideas and to synthesize information if they are to become fluent readers.
"Words are small shapes in the gorgeous chaos of the world.
But they are shapes.
They bring the world into focus.
They corral ideas.
They hone thoughts.
They paint watercolors of perception."
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses