Literacy A Tool for Life

What do you teach?


Is Literacy important for comprehension in your classes?

Of course! Our curriculum is in our books.

Content Literacy

Content Literacy practices do not diminish the teacher's role as a subject matter specialist. Instead, reading is a tool that they use to construct, clarify, and extend meaning in a given discipline. ~Vacca & Vacca (2008)

Read to Learn. Secondary school influences on achievement (content, reality, access) interact like cogs. They are interdependent. Content - probably why you started teaching. You love your subject area. Reality - what students bring into the class: reading levels, motivation, prior knowledge. Access - can students understand the chapters? Can they read tables and charts? Do they know how to communicate their understanding?

Which of the three cogs can you impact the most?

Content? You are often assigned a course and can't change the curriculum. Even if you can choose, you cannot alter primary documents or math principals. This is your content.

Reality? This is the most challenging cog in the wheel. It is truly beyond your control. Students are assigned to your class and bring with them test scores, past experiences, strengths and weaknesses.

Access? This is the area you can immediately take ownership of! And, you can see its effect on the other parts of the wheel.

Creating Access

Mastery. Most of us are not reading teachers by job title or assignment. Yet, we are all reading teachers simply because our goal is to develop mastery of content.

Bottom-Up vs. Top-Down. There are two camps in reading theory: Bottom-up and Top-down. Bottom-up focuses on decoding skills and what the student sees on the page. Top-down is concerned with what the student brings to the experience. How does he interact with the text. The article Skilled Reading: Top-Down, Bottom-Up clarifies the two and offers an argument for an integrated approach. How might the following statement illustrate the need for a compromise between the two theories?

Daylight savings time ends tomorrow, and so, people should remember to change their (fill in the correct answer).

The Mathew Effect

A Spiral. The Mathew Effect in reading sets in motion a downward or upward spiral. The downward spiral begins with a lack of enjoyment in reading. No fun means no practice which results in poor reading skills and ultimately no motivation to read. The upward spiral is the complete opposite: enjoyment = practice = motivation. Is the Mathew Effect affecting your students' mastery of content?

The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.

Create an Upward Spiral

More reading = more practice

Read! 3 changes you can make in your classroom starting tomorrow.

Let them read directions. Don't give in. This strategy will separate those with bad reading habits from those with true reading deficiencies.

Class notes online. Don't do it. What happens to you in class when your notes will be posted later?

PowerPoints. Try not to summarize entire chapter sections. This takes any need to read out of the equation.

Create access to content through literacy development.

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