Content Area LiteracyOctober 1, 2011 at 10:01 am | Posted in Content Area Literacy | 2 Comments
(authored by Amanda Adams)
Literacy is important in all subject areas. And I think subject area teachers feel as though literacy should be in the English/Reading classes. However, literacy in the content areas is just as important as literacy in the English classes. In content areas, students are exposed to a variety of different types of text and information. Students should learn hwo to read, write etc. using the text that is prevalent in the subject.
I stumbled across two articles that were interesting. One was titled “Content Literacy: Beyond the Language Arts Classroom” and the other was “Supporting Adolescent Literacy Across the Content Areas”. The first article deals with how content literacy in Math and the second article deals with the policies and practices behind supporting content area literacy.
In the first article the author states that,
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
If students are aware of this ultimate goal for their students they need to create ways to pull literacy into their content area. The author goes on to say that “Teachers are teaching their students how to evaluate all types of information sources. Whether it’s hard text, electronic informational sources, MTV, or a documentary film, teachers are helping students to learn to think critically about the information they encounter.”
The author of the first article shares an example of how literacy can be infused into a math classroom. She explains that traditional math lessons are “repeated teacher demonstrations of problem solving with students copying examples and going home to repeat the process”. She suggests some changes that need to occur in order to fuse literacy into the math classroom. Here are her suggestions:
- “Math teachers are developing their own classroom libraries”
- “Use pre-reading strategies to help students get the most from their math book”
- “Word walls help students learn the language of math”
- “Design lessons that integrate multiple resources”
- “Read, write and speak about math”
In the second article, the focus is more on the policy and practices behind supporting content literacy. The article starts with the quote “Reading is a different task when we read literature, science texts, historical analyses, newspapers, tax forms. This is why teaching students how to read the texts of academic disciplines is a key part of teaching them these disciplines” (Key Ideas of the Strategic Literacy Initiative, 2001). This quote really ties up my opening statements about how it is important to gain strategies for literacy in all content areas. Science text and math texts do not require the same strategies and skills and the texts in history or English.
The article goes on to say that “At the middle school and high school levels, literacy skills must become increasingliy sophisticated to meet more challenging academic expectations. The ability to transact meaning from academic text of different disciplines is often not directly taught, with the consequence of failure to comprehend those academic topics”. I strongly agree with this because when I was in school I don’t ever remember the teachers teaching me how to utilize the resources we were given. If you came across a term you did not understand you either looked it up (and did not understand the words in the definition) or skipped it. The one major skill I still remember learning, though, was using context clues. I think that was in elementary school. However, that technique does not work if you do not understand the text around it. The article raises some excellent questions.
After reading this article think about the following questions, that were asked.
- “Why now are educational practitioners and policymakers concerned about adolescent literacy now?”
- “What recent developments have taken place on the national and state levels?”
- “What would a successful approach to improving literacy include?”
- “What is the Adolescent Literacy Support Framework?”
- “How does the Framework address the needs of all students?”
- “What does adolescent literacy development look like at the adolescent level?”
- “How will adolescent literacy across the curriculum improve test scores?”
- “What doe educational leaders need to know?”
Given the changes we are experiencing now, how would some of the answers changes to the above questions? How would you change how you add literacy to your content area? What strategies might be helpful in ensuring that literacy is fused into your content?