Where was Content Area Literacy when I was growing up?

May 18, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Posted in uncategorized | Leave a comment

Post written by Steve Coon

The concept of content area literacy is something that is new to me. Throughout all of high school and my undergraduate in environmental science I struggled with important class texts and scientific journal articles. When tackling an intense scientific writing during the latter part of my education, it was assumed inference of general meaning gathered from the way a term was used, or from supporting parts of text was enough to get one with less knowledge of the topic through the material. For me, this was enough disconnect to make some readings next to impossible to accomplish. From experience I can say that as my head was filled with partial bits of incomplete knowledge I became further and further bogged down and certainly no closer to enlightenment of a given topic.

It’s scary to think how many others have struggled like I have. Unable to address my issues due to frustrations, anxiety and the fear of looking ignorant in the eyes of my professors and peers, and with the hope that things will eventually fall into place sooner or later, I continued to struggle through my education. I feel I was failed by the education system from the beginning. While attending public schools in the town of Webster, as a student population grew through the 80’s and 90’s I can remember feeling like a number lost in a crowd, never getting the attention I needed to truly move forward in a subject as teachers averted their attention to more promising students. At that time, lacking the discipline necessary to make myself stick with it, I became less concerned with getting an education and more interested with the social aspects of school. It wasn’t until it was too late, towards the end of my secondary education and into my undergraduate that I realized how much I had shorted myself.

As I enter into grad school, and I am thrown into a class which covers a topic that has always been my downfall, hearing things I have never heard before like “multiple intelligences” realizing that I again am about to try to navigate an area that is grey to me, lacking the proper background one should have, my stomach turns. However I have wanted to enter the education field to help those students who have been in my shoes. Those who know what it’s like to be left behind time and time again as the rest of the class “clicks”. Instead I am putting my fears aside and trying to be excited for the techniques this class will hopefully teach me and help the students I aspire to teach.

While searching the web for info on content area literacy, one site I liked and found easy to navigate was that of TALK (Technology Assisting Literacy Knowledge). This site contains samples of activities along with resources to additional links for many content areas. Another interesting resource I found was at the site Content Reading Strategies that Work.

I appreciated that this sight discusses a graphic novel series called Timeline which is geared toward historical events, however my first thought when introduced to this class was that a comic book or graphic novel would be a great way to introduce science concepts to students in both elementary and secondary school.

So now that I have come clean and let you all in on my fears of this class and the content that I lack, I’m hoping that you may reference me towards anything else out there that will help me gain some background into the education field whether it be other websites, past course material (for you) that I have yet to be introduced to, etc…  Thanks!


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