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Building Literacy in Your Classroom

posted Jan 21, 2018, 5:45 PM by HSD Principal
We all ask for examples of what specific teaching practices look like in our own disciplines. If you have been asking how developing literacy fits in with your subject area, the article "But What Does it Look Like?" is for you. The authors share the 4-Es theory of what content-area literacy should accomplish:
  • Engaging and apprenticing students in the problem- and text-based work of the discipline in question;
  • Engineering classroom experiences so students understand and use the discipline’s cognitive strategies;
  • Examining how words, language, and other representations are used in the discipline;
  • Evaluating the ever-evolving cultural practices of the discipline and connections with students’ own cultural practices.
The article then gives examples from a history class and a physics class of what literacy looks like in those two contexts.

Another article lists the four key variables in adolescents’ reading development as:
  • The volume of material they read (ideally 2-4 hours of literacy content learning a day);
  • Text difficulty (ideally students read a variety of levels, including some challenging texts, with support, to stretch proficiency);
  • Background knowledge (a crucial element in comprehension); and
  • Motivation (hooking students’ interest is helpful, as is experiencing success).

They conclude that one way to enhance all four and accelerate adolescents’ reading proficiency and confidence is the use of text sets – carefully chosen groups of material that complement each other, provide different perspectives and reading levels, build students’ interest and confidence, and deepen the reading experience. What text sets have in common, say the authors, “is their focus on providing students the chance to look across texts and build both general and disciplinary knowledge.”

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