Changing Views of Content Area Literacy

June 25, 2011 at 8:42 am | Posted in Content Area Literacy | 9 Comments

From the all about Adolescent Literacy site, Heller and Greenleaf state

Inasmuch as the academic content areas comprise the heart of the secondary school curriculum, content area literacy instruction must be a cornerstone of any movement to build the high-quality secondary schools that young people deserve and on which the nation’s social and economic health will depend.

Debbie Shults, middle school teacher and literacy coach, writes in her post

Teachers across the entire curriculum spectrum are beginning to realize that they are responsible for producing learners who possess the literacy skills needed for the 21st Century. They are realizing that literacy is the ability to comprehend all sorts of text, and helping students accomplish the goal of comprehension requires more than asking them to open a book and read the chapter.

Reflect on the quotes and your work in class.

  • How would you now define the literacy skills that are essential to your content area for which you are responsible  teaching?
  • What do you consider the most significant way in which your perception of content area literacy has changed since starting this course?
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  1. Content literacy in my classroom is everything I do. Vocabulary is the only thing that matters in geometry. Being able to understand vocabulary in my classroom is the best way for success, which to me meanst content literacy is the most iportant thing I can focus on.
    This has changed my opinon on “literacy” because to me literacy was reading. reading. reading. and more reading. The fact is that that is not true, content literacy is the vocabulary and text I use in my everyday classroom. If i can get my students to better understand what I say and what they are reading their understanding will only go high.

  2. I would define the literacy skills in mathematics as being able to first decode the information presented. Whether it be symbolic, numerical, or textual – students must first be able to decode the text before they can begin understanding. Once students are able to successfully able to decode, the next facet of literacy in mathematics would be to be able to successfully choose and apply the correct formula, equation, etc. to the problem at hand. Finally, to be able to reflect on your solution, and determine if it makes sense in the context of the problem is an often overlooked facet of literacy in mathematics.

    I don’t know if I could choose a single way that my perception of literacy has changed. I suppose the main thing that has changed for me is looking at literacy as Pre-, During-, and Post- strategies has helped break it down for me and make it a lot less overwhelming. I look forward to implementing some of these strategies, along with vocabulary strategies next year in my classroom as I attempt to help my students become better learners!

  3. I would have to define content area literacy as having the ability of finding content specific information. I think it is very important not only for students to be able to read and comprehend content specific sources, but knowing where to find those sources and being able to determine the difference between a reliable source and an unreliable source. By providing students with the necessary skills will help them become literate in a content area. One way to do this is to expose students to the different sources out there, whether it is a nonfiction book on a certain subject, or a scientific article. My perception of content area literacy has changed a lot, mainly because I really did not know what it was. I figured it was just being able to read a science textbook. I know realize that it is having the ability to learn content from text. The text source could be a text book, a newspaper or magezine article, or it could be a book or a peer-reviewed article. I think learning how to implement literacy strategies will help my future students become literate in my content area.

  4. Literacy skills help students understand, comprehend and analyze different resources students use to enhance their learning for a specific class. As a content area teacher is its my job to help students develep such skills. At the beginning of the course I didn’t realize this, I thought that I was responsible for giving students different resources but it was the ELA teachers that should teach the strategies. After this course I now know it is the responsibilty of all content-area teachers to find out where our students lack and develop them into better and efficient readers.

  5. Technology Education is a special breed, connected to everything but different then all other subjects. The ability to read and write effectively is a skill that is paramount, and my ability to get my students to a high proficiency level is importnant for their success in a course based on teaching life skills. Dr. Woodward created technology Education, then Manual Arts, as a subject for all students in all walks of life for life preperation (Woodward 1884) a at the start of this course I knew that technical documents were diffucult dense documents that students would rarely understand. I know now that with proper aides and coaching I will be able to help students get to that higher level like someone helped me. I think literacy in the content is more than just reading and understanding it is truely the ability to use that higher level thinking ability to judge documents decode and synthesize opinions and products. Literacy has becoem the cornerstone of Design. Good Design is the foundation of our lives as we know it, and literacy supports that.

  6. I certainly have a new view of content literacy now that the class has completed. I view content literacy as an important part of being a contributing part of society. Having a strong content literacy makes one more competitive and better apt to deal with new information, not only in an academic community but in the larger world community as well. One’s ability to navigate the multitude of different text sources available today and process them with a high degree of cogent thought, is the key to moving out of the 20th century and into the global 21st century.
    The most significant change in my mind is how I view literacy. Before I viewed it as something relegated to a ninth grade English class. Now I view it as an important life skill that must be revisited often to maintain one’s competence in literacy and content literacy.

  7. Having taken the other literacy course before this one, my idea of literacy has been greatly altered. The other class, while educational and informative, was not as useful to me as this class has been. This class really made me think about what literacy means in a math class, versus strategies that were more geared toward a reading class setting. An article that I shared earlier under Sam’s post gave a great idea about what content literacy means.
    http://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/teachersatwork/1305/

    Content literacy is about understanding the language of your subject. Being able to navigate your way through all the material, make sense out of it and apply it appropriately. It is our job to be able to help our students reach the point where they can do all of those things. Forming the strategies to work with our content was so helpful at giving me an idea on how to implement in the classroom, seeing the ideas of the others in the class was also super helpful.

    I think important literacy skills in the math classroom has a lot to do with decoding and vocabulary. Being that mathematics is always building on foundations the students have been forming since elementary school, (hopefully!), the pre-reading strategies will also be a huge help when attempting to gain prior knowledge from the students when beginning a new unit.

  8. I must admit that my perception of what constitutes content-area-literacy has changed since we started this course. I had previously thought it to mean reading/writing and such interpretations of language. Now I see the full spectrum of skills that literacy actually entails. The part that I feel most closely relates to my content area are the techniques that promote problem solving skills and analytical techniques. So things like my “Picture Dictation”, Graphic Organizers and other methods tht involve the utilization of language to be a problem solving technique of it’s own. I like how GO’s can be used to organize materials and make it easier to identify the main points, and whether or not they support the idea at hand. Much of my course will involve laboratory processes which require following complex-multi-step processes. These graphic organizers can be created to promote such learning. And when it boils down to it, I feel like most of my culminating projects will involve this set of problem solving skills, being a project, laboratoy, or simply a project design. These literacy skills I have picked up in this class will help me help my students become better prepared for not just the problems solving procedures required for my class, but these skills translate to real life as well. Thanks, and have a good rest of the summer!

  9. I would define content area literacy in the realm of the science class room to obviously include content specific vocabulary. Another main skill would be having the ability to work through a complicated text by making assumptions from what is presented and knowing where to turn (other sources) to help work through sections of text that are unclear. The think aloud strategy would have been very helpful for me growing up in this aspect because I always thought you either got it or you didn’t. Being able to see howsomeone fluent in content literacy works through a tricky text, and that it doesn’t just all instantely click would have been huge for me in highschool. Honestly before starting this course I didnt know content area literacy existed. Now I have some background of trying to work through such texts and am grateful for what the your class has provided me.


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