The Need for Strategies in Content Area LiteracySeptember 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Posted in Content Area Literacy | 2 Comments
(authored by Rachael Rzepka)
When thinking about literacy in schools it is important to see the need for literacy in all subject areas. Just the other day, I was sitting in a conference with a strategic learning specialist who used to be a math teacher. She was expressing her concerns about student’s ability to write out their math answers. This got me thinking about what we have been discussing in class, and I realized that literacy is in every subject.
This same discussion was brought up later in the week during a principal’s cabinet meeting discussing RTI. Students need to be able to read and write in order to successfully complete work in their other courses. If a student cannot comprehend the material, how are they supposed to be able to learn what is expect? Teachers do not know strategies of how to incorporate reading and writing skills into their lessons. When listening to the math teacher I described above, she claimed, “Students cannot simply write an answer, they cannot write concise statements that summarize their work”. This makes me think of a video I have watched on the common core standards.
In the video on the common core standards, David Coleman discusses how about 80% of all writing is personal narrative for students. This would explain why our students cannot simply state how they came to their answer in a math problem. Even further it can demonstrate that students cannot answer how they did the problem because they cannot comprehend what the problem was asking and how they arrived at their answer. The new common core standards are put an emphasis on the “ability to write logical arguments based on substantive claims, sound reasoning, and relevant evidence” (Common Core State Standards Initiative 2011). This would mean that students would need to create logical arguments based on research, or defend their answer in a clear and concise manner.
Content area teachers will need to know how to incorporate these skills into their classrooms. These skills will now be emphasized in every subject as the writing will shift from personal to information based. The common core standards will strengthen the writing and reading skills of students because the standards build upon one another to strengthen student skills. They focus on key skills that build upon and strengthen as students move on in their educational career.
After reviewing the common core standards, I began to think about strategies content area teachers can used to strengthen these skills. Teachers always claim that they do not have enough time in their day to incorporate an English lesson, so how can they teach these skills through their lessons? I have found this website in which they provide you with various content area literacy activities. This website splits the strategies by different content areas. They then provide you with ways you can incorporate them in your classroom. Do you think these strategies are sufficient? Are there other strategies that can be used? How do we know these strategies are reaching the student’s needs?