Hi this is Katie McKnight for K-12 Teachers Alliance and we're going to talk a little bit about content area literacy strategies and what it means with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). So first of all, let's have a couple of reminders about what content literacy actually is. Content literacy (reading and writing in the content area) is a way for us to understand specific subject matter and it also is a collection of strategies that help and support our students to become more active and independent readers.
So content literacy is generally defined then as the ability to use reading and writing for the acquisition of new content in a given discipline. And one of the things that's paramount about content literacy is tapping into what kids already know – their schema, their background knowledge. So we need to provide strategies that actually set kids up and get them ready to read difficult or challenging texts that we often experience when we're learning new content.
So here are a couple strategies that can help our readers as they are learning content:
• Provide readers who struggle with decoding or word recognition with opportunities to hear the text read aloud. So using an iPod in class where the kids can actually listen to the text is super helpful and also very helpful for English Language Learners (ELL) and also for kids who have special needs. So it's a way to differentiate teaching strategies in order to make the text accessible for all kids.
• Give readers for whom word recognition is a problem supplemental reading materials that include visual clues to word meaning. That's where the Internet can be particularly helpful because the Internet often has images and pictures that go along with the text that can help struggling readers or kids that are learning new content to understand the text. And when you can, allot extra time for readers who actually struggle to complete assignments. Encourage struggling readers to use texts that have lots of symbols, icons, etc. Sometimes those are bothersome for good readers, but it's super helpful for kids who are trying to understand the content and the meaning in the text.
• Implement strategies. There are all kinds of strategies and vocabulary strategies that are useful for teaching kids new content. Things like question/answer relationship, survey question, review/recite, concept sorts, concept maps, and vocabulary slides – all of these are great, rich activities for kids when they're learning new content in their reading.
So if you are using textbooks, here's a couple of ways to use textbooks more effectively:
• So the first use is empathy. Do you remember when you had difficulty in a subject and the text was difficult? So remember how that can sometimes be a struggle for students.
• Help the students to get started. We need to “front load” our teaching. And that's where content literacy strategies can be helpful.
• And I don't mean this (this sounds a little jokingly), but don't leave kids alone with their textbooks. Giving kids their textbooks and then sending them away is not helpful. The textbook is a tool for learning, but go beyond the textbooks – supplement richly because there's so much more information and the textbook should be a source, not the sole source for learning content.
• And then choose wisely. Be selective with assignments. Be strategic about what is most important. And again, supplement, supplement, supplement richly and go beyond that textbook.
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