Students will need advanced literacy skills — the ability to understand and analyze a variety of texts and to write and communicate persuasively — to succeed in life after high school. The articles in this section will help teachers in the academic subject areas integrate literacy instruction into their practice.
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Thematic pairings of novels/short stories with movies can help students access difficult texts and can lead to deeper comprehension and lively classroom discussion. This article suggests pairings for some commonly assigned middle and high school texts.
Fluency is the missing piece of the reading puzzle for many older students. They can decode, but they cannot do it automatically and accurately enough to comprehend text. Here are some fluency-building activities to complement content delivery. See also Teach Students How to Fluently Read Multisyllabic Content Vocabulary.
Dysfluent readers are so consumed with word identification that they cannot focus on extracting or constructing meaning from the text. Here are some activities to develop students' fluency skills, so that they may move on to access content. See also Develop Fluency Using Content-Based Texts.
Students need to learn the purposes and methods of narration in order to understand the narrative framework and to eliminate frustration when they read. When students know the narrative elements, they can more easily follow the story line and make successful predictions about what is to occur. In addition, understanding these elements develops higher-level thinking skills.
Textbook previewing strategies focus not only on the structure of the text — such as the table of contents, index, chapter introductions, and so forth — but on a content overview, which focuses on the concepts and questions covered in the chapter and their interrelationships.
Because writing is thinking, the organization of students' writing reflects both the structure of their thinking and the depth of their understanding. Students should be writing in all their classes, explaining what they know and how they know it. Thus, it's essential for content-area teachers to give students meaningful analytical writing assignments. Read An Introduction to Analytical Text Structures for more information and graphic organizers to help with writing instruction.
While there is a great deal of information on reading and RTI, there is a dearth of research on math with RTI. Thus, the development and implementation of reading and RTI has blazed a path to RTMI (Response to Math Intervention).
A Brown Bag Exam uses found objects and images to help students activate prior knowledge and creates a framework for students to express their understanding. Students work individually and in collaboration to create concrete connections between the reading and the Brown Bag items. Unlike traditional assessment, the Brown Bag Exam is an exam filled with conversation, idea exchange, and learning.
Knowing how to engage in signature scientific acts, such as formulating questions and using evidence in arguments is an important part of science learning. This InfoBrief from the National Center for Technology Innovation offers more information about using technology to support struggling students.
Science learning often involves creating abstract representations and models of processes that we are unable to observe with the naked eye. Learn more about visualizing, representing, and modeling to aid struggling learners.
In an increasingly complex world, all students need to be scientifically literate. While some students may go on to pursue advanced careers in the sciences, basic scientific literacy is critical for all students.
To be scientifically literate, students must be able to express themselves appropriately. Learn how to help struggling students master specific vocabulary and be able to use it in their science writing activities.
Teachers often find the Holocaust to be an overwhelming subject to approach with their students. While the Holocaust offers important lessons to today's students, it can be a difficult to find the appropriate amount of information to share with young learners. This article highlights the importance of the Holocaust in today's classroom, and offers suggestions for integrating historical fiction into the unit of study.
The Holocaust is often a difficult topic to discuss with students. This guide offers tips for approaching the subject, as well as cross-curricular connections for a more meaningful reading experience.
Many areas of instruction can have a rippling effect for the expansion of readers' repertoire of skills, including pre-reading, predicting, testing hypotheses against the text, asking questions, summarizing, etc. Literacy-rich, content-area classrooms include a variety of instructional routines that provide guidance to students before, during, and after reading.
Of all the academic disciplines taught in middle and high school, the one we least expect to entail reading extended texts is in mathematics, but math texts present special literacy problems and challenges for young readers.
Reading complex literary texts offers unique opportunities for students to wrestle with some of the core ethical dilemmas that we face as human beings. The growth of ethical reasoning is one of the most compelling reasons for schools to develop students' capacities to read complex works of literature. Students who enter high school as struggling readers are quite capable of engaging with such texts, in part because these same students are often wrestling with complex challenges in their own lives.
The ability to read historical documents including contemporary explications about societal, economic and political issues provides a direct link to literacy as preparation for citizenship. As in the other disciplines, schools are unique sites for youth across class and ethnic boundaries to learn to read such documents and to develop the skills to engage in such reading for college and career success.
The demands of comprehending scientific text are discipline specific and are best learned by supporting students in learning how to read a wide range of scientific genres. Besides text structures emphasizing cause and effect, sequencing and extended definitions, as well as the use of scientific registers, evaluating scientific arguments requires additional skill sets for readers.
Every content area, from chemistry to history, has unique literacy demands: texts, knowledge, skills. But how are these critical literacies learned, let alone taught?
Beyond general best practices, what sorts of professional development will help teachers improve the literacy of their older students? This article by the National Council of Teachers of English advocates building professional communities among secondary school teachers, encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration, and consulting literacy coaches.
Similar to expert craftsmen teaching their trades to apprentices, teachers can model thinking and problem-solving skills to their students. Read more about various classroom modeling techniques.
How can content-area, non-reading-specialist teachers contribute to academic literacy? They can incorporate these five techniques throughout their lessons: (1) provide explicit instruction and supported practice in effective comprehension techniques, (2) increase the amount and quality of reading content discussions, (3) maintain high standards for text, conversation, questions, and vocabulary, (4) increase student motivation and engagement with reading, and (5) provide essential content knowledge to support student mastery of critical concepts. Find out why these strategies and the literacy areas they represent are so important.
A Texas librarian shares his strategy of using nonfiction picture books to introduce new concepts to struggling adolescent readers and to build their background knowledge. Once students have been exposed to academic content in easy reading material, they are more confident in making the transition to textbooks.
Copying definitions from the dictionary and memorizing words for tests is not sufficient work for students to master and retain new vocabulary. This article helps teachers choose which words are most important to teach and suggests strategies to bring those words to life for students.
This issue brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education looks at the role every middle and high school teacher must play to help older students become fully literate, and puts forth a four-part agenda for improving literacy in the content areas.
Being able to speak English fluently does not guarantee that a student will be able to use language effectively in academic settings. Fluency must be combined with higher order thinking skills to create an "academic language," which allows students to effectively present their ideas in a way that others will take seriously. The author, an ELL teacher, describes her use of "protocols" (a cheat sheet of sentence starters) to build students' cognitive academic language proficiency.
Learning happens when we connect new information to what we already know. When children have limited knowledge about the world, they have a smaller capacity to learn more about it. Here are four ways teachers can build content knowledge that will expand the opportunity for students to forge new connections and make them better independent readers and learners.
Each of us, every day, has to contend with multiple messages or texts—in the news, over the Internet, in our workplace, in books, and in conversation. Making sense of these sometimes conflicting messages is critical. But without being explicitly taught how to do so, students can have trouble synthesizing multiple texts—gathering facts without keeping an eye toward the different perspective of each. This Learning Point Associates article offers a case study and guidelines for using multiple texts in the classroom to increase the critical thinking and academic sophistication of older students.
The Content Literacy Continuum (CLC) is a tool for enabling teachers and administrators to evaluate literacy instruction/services offered within a school and to formulate a plan for improving the quality of those services. This article describes the CLC's five levels of service, along with practice examples and the teacher's role at each level.