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Literacy in the Content Areas Dr. Jim Greenlaw St. Francis Xavier University.

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1 Literacy in the Content Areas Dr. Jim Greenlaw St. Francis Xavier University

2 What Content Area Reading Involves Reading in content areas, such as science, history, and social studies, implies that students can read and understand expository texts. Not only are these texts characterized by their factual information, but this information is often conveyed using multisyllabic technical words. Another common feature of expository texts is the way they are structured. For example, they may rely on cause/effect, compare-contrast, or sequencing.

3 When students read in the content areas they interact with the text before, during, and after reading. Before reading, they draw on their prior knowledge, set a purpose, and anticipate questions. During reading, they use word identification strategies (e.g., structural analysis, syllabication) to decode unfamiliar multisyllabic words and context clues to figure out the meaning of technical terms. They read between the lines to make inferences. After reading, students reflect, synthesize ideas across sources, and make further interpretations.

4 Drawing on their diverse abilities and needs, readers interact with the text on three levels. The first level is the literal level—reading and understanding the factual information in the text. The second level is inferential—reading between the lines to make sense of ideas through connecting to past experiences and knowledge. The third level is evaluation—forming conclusions and developing viewpoints based on analysis of the information.

5 Who the reader is—in terms of prior experiences, strengths, abilities, skills, needs, and difficulties—affects the individual's meaning-making process. For example, a student who has visited the Parsboro Museum and collected fossil specimens on the beach at Joggins will be able to draw on his or her prior knowledge when reading a text about the geology of Nova Scotia. If this student has read other materials about geology, then some vocabulary words might already be familiar.

6 Why Teaching Reading is Important in the Content Areas Although content area teachers might like to assume that all students can comprehend texts, identify the words in the texts, understand the meaning of these words, use information from texts to construct knowledge, and demonstrate their understanding, this is not always the case. If students cannot read, then they are hindered in developing content area knowledge. In today's educational context, every content area teacher has a responsibility to help students successfully and productively access, read, and understand texts.

7 How to Help Students Become Strategic Readers All content knowledge teachers can help their students become better content readers by using reading strategies. Research has shown that when students are given instruction in strategies they make significant gains on measures of reading comprehension over students trained with conventional instruction.

8 Reading strategies draw on the different approaches that good readers use to read actual text in their classrooms. These strategies include making connections, questioning, inferring, determining importance, visualizing, synthesizing, and monitoring for meaning. To help students become strategic readers, teachers can model different strategies, coach students, provide prompts, offer encouragement, and give feedback at just the right time.

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25 Include questions in reading the content that include all six levels of Bloom’s taxonomy

26 Before Reading Suggestions for teaching comprehension strategy use before reading include providing opportunities for students: to activate their prior knowledge about the content area topic to be studied. Activities might include having students tell what they know about the topic or inviting them to discuss what they want to learn about it; to participate in activities, such as mapping techniques, that enable students to see relationships among their ideas about the topic; to participate in activities that introduce analogous material to help students make connections between the topic to be studied and their background knowledge; to participate in activities that develop the prerequisite background knowledge and vocabulary about content area topics. Activities might include reading materials, videos, computer databases and Web sites, and field trips;

27 to participate in vocabulary-building activities that teach students the meaning of technical words they will encounter as they read; to preview and make predictions about the text to be read; to examine the physical features of the text, such as different kinds of typefaces or headings and subheadings, to make predictions about what they will learn from reading; to establish goals, or purposes for reading; to generate questions they would like answered about the topic of the text. Students might use physical features of the text to generate questions. They might, for example turn headings into questions or question themselves about the definitions of boldface or italicized words in the text.

28 During Reading Suggestions for teaching comprehension strategy use during reading include providing opportunities for students: to construct mental images of the content they are reading; to reflect on and monitor their understanding of text as they read; to participate in self-questioning activities that require them to clarify and monitor their comprehension as they proceed through text. For example, students might be taught to ask themselves questions such as, “Do I understand what I just read?”; to participate in activities in which they respond to factual and inferential questions as they proceed through the text. To begin, teachers might provide clues about where to find the answers to these questions;

29 to participate in summarization activities that enable students to identify information pertinent to sections of text. Students can be prompted to ask themselves questions such as, “What is the most important idea about the paragraph I just read? or “What is the gist of the paragraph?”; to keep literature logs and journals, which offer students opportunities to reflect on their reading through prediction, summarization, and interpretation; to apply organizational frameworks as a way to understand and remember content information; to complete note sheets and study guides to facilitate their understanding of text and improve their ability to deal with information presented in various expository text structures; and to make story maps or use other graphic organizers to help them organize information from the text.

30 After Reading Suggestions for teaching comprehension strategy use after reading include providing opportunities for students: to review, paraphrase, summarize, and interpret text; to participate in discussions of the main ideas of the text by summarizing or by putting information into their own words; to answer questions that pertain both to literal and inferential comprehension of text; to participate in small-group discussions using study guides and postreading questions; and to present important information from the text through oral reports, visual representations, media shows, or book reviews.

31 Think Alouds The Think Aloud is a literacy strategy designed to help students monitor comprehension and direct their thinking as they work through the problem solving process. This literacy strategy can be implemented effectively in many content areas. It is used, for instance, to demonstrate the thinking that goes into solving a math problem. Through teacher modeling, students are “talked through” the thinking processes. The teacher should keep in mind that the comments must exemplify metacognitive awareness so that each step in the process is modeled for the students. Questions are to be encouraged after the problem is solved.

32 Think Aloud Lesson Students turn to the assigned problems for the day. Teacher thinks aloud through 2 or 3 examples, pointing out to the students how the Think Aloud reveals how to attack and solve the problem. Students solve each sample problem after the teacher does the Think Alouds. Next the children try Thinking Aloud with a partner on several problems. The teacher circulates and listens to the interaction, offering suggestions and modeling for those who are having difficulty. Finally, students work on the assigned problems using Think Aloud “silently” as they work.

33 SQRQCQ SURVEY First, the students survey the problem rather quickly to get a general idea or understanding of it. QUESTION Then they come up with questions — what they believe the problem is asking for. REREAD The third step is to reread the problem to identify facts, relevant information, and details they will need to solve it. QUESTION Now another question is formulated that focuses on what mathematical operation(s) to apply. COMPUTE The students actually compute the answer — solving the problem. QUESTION The question to be asked at this point involves the accuracy of the answer. Is it correct? Does the answer make sense?

34 SQ3R Survey By surveying the chapter titles, introductory paragraphs, bold face, italicized headings, and summary paragraphs, the reader gets an overview of the material. Surveying also gives enough information to generate individual purposes for reading the text. Question Purpose questions are often provided at the beginning of the chapter. It not, the reader can turn section headings into questions. The main objective is to have questions for which answers are expected to be found in the passage. Read The student is to read to answer the purpose questions formulated in Step 2, Question. Recite Student should try to answer questions without referring to the text or notes. This step helps in transferring information from short-term to long-term memory. Review Students review the material by rereading parts of the text or notes. Students verify answers given during Step 4, Recite. This helps retain information better and gives immediate feedback.

35 Concept Maps Concept mapping, among many other things, allows teachers and students to organize concepts and determine the relations between concepts. This enables a teacher or student to work with concepts and propositions as opposed to the rote memorization of facts. Concept maps are both evocative and generative. That is they help evoke prior knowledge and help generate or construct new knowledge. Concept mapping is particularly useful in the science classroom. There are several steps in the construction of Concept maps.

36 Steps in Concept Map Construction 1. Select several concepts from the content material (8-12 preferable). 2. Write each concept on a separate post-it or card. 3. Select an organizing concept or main idea concept to be placed at the top of the map. 4. Arrange the other concepts in a distinct hierarchy under the organizing concept. 5. Draw lines between related concepts adding linking words that explain relationships. 6. Review and Reflect. Once satisfied with the arrangement of the concepts on the map, construct a final map.

37 Jigsaw The Jigsaw strategy is designed for cooperative learning. The idea is analogous to a jigsaw puzzle in that “pieces” or topics of study are researched and learned by students within groups and then put together in the form of peer teaching between groups. Students work in groups of three to six to become experts on a particular topic which is based on an overall theme or unit of study. The group members are charged with learning everything they can about their assigned topics. Each group member participates in the research efforts and becomes an “expert” on his or her particular topic. The students then leave their groups to join “expert groups” to teach about their assigned pieces of the puzzle. Then, the original group comes back together to teach each other what they have learned. Each student listens and takes notes, and at the end of the unit, is accountable for the information shared throughout the class. Instructional technology can easily be incorporated into the jigsaw strategy. Research can be accomplished via the internet on- line encyclopedias. Presentations can be developed with various software packages and enhanced with video camera pictures, student voices, music, and moving illustrations from other sources in to the presentations.

38 How to set it up 1. Divide class into 4-6 member groups; each member becomes an expert on a different topic/concept assigned by teacher. 2. Members of the teams with the same topic meet together in an expert group with a variety of resource materials and texts available to explore their topic. Also, a single reading from the textbook or another source could be used to complete the assignment. 3. The students prepare how they will teach the information to others. 4. Everyone returns to their jigsaw teams to teach what they learned to the other members. 5. Team members listen and take notes as their classmate teaches them. 6. All students are given a quiz or exam on the overall topic which as been taught in sections within each jigsaw group.

39 Cubing This strategy was originally intended to be a writing strategy to explore topics or subjects from a variety of dimensions. A concrete visual of a cube is used to consider these multiple dimensions. It is best to introduce the activity with a familiar topic, going through each of the steps to model their application to that particular topic. Then, students can work individually or in groups to go through each side of the cube.

40 The Six Sides of the Cube 1. Describe it (including color, shape, size (if applicable)— How would you describe the issue/topic? 2. Compare it (what it is similar to or different from)—“It’s sort of like” 3. Associate it (what it makes you think of)—How does the topic connect to other issues/subjects? 4. Analyze it (tell how it is made or what it is composed of)— How would you break the problem/issue into smaller parts? 5. Apply it (tell how it can be used)—How does it help you understand other topics/issues? 6. Argue for/against it (take a stand and support it)—I am for this because/This works because/I agree because

41 KWL We know that successful learners link prior knowledge to new information, then reorganize it to create their own meaning and learning. KWL helps students do this—it provides a framework that students can use to construct meaning from new material. It is a literacy strategy that teachers can easily modify to meet students’ learning needs at any level and in any content area. The letters stand for the knowledge construction process that takes place: K — What I KNOW begins with students’ prior knowledge—brainstorm and record W — What I WANT to learn/know students articulate their own questions L — What I LEARNED students record what they have learned

42 Journals Allowing students to write in journals gives them the opportunity to express their own thoughts and opinions in a non-threatening arena. While the activity allows them to organize their ideas with some freedom, guidelines for how the journal is to be set up and utilized is basic to successful use of journals. Presenting a general format to follow will help to eliminate writer’s anxiety and give structure to journaling assignments. Students are often motivated to go beyond the basic requirements of an assignment and explore other perspectives and possibilities for solutions to problems. Journal entries can be inspired by teacher prompts or student-selected topics. The information recorded in the journal can serve as a study guide or resource for other projects.

43 Observation Journal (Field Journal) The students and the teacher should negotiate about what observations are to made, and what guidelines are to be established for recording in the journals. The format for entries, information to be included, when to record, etc., are topics that should be included in the preliminary planning for the observation journals. The students then visit the experiment and record their observations into the journal (or field notebook). It is important to remember that journal entries do not always have to be charts or narrative writings. The use of illustrations in the journal is an effective way for students to clarify what they are reporting and is an excellent way to address different learning styles represented by students in every classroom.

44 Dialogue Journal Dialogue journals offer an opportunity for two-way communication between teacher and student: on-going learning can take place through use of this process.

45 Assessment Journal Students respond to teacher prompts, experiences, or self-selected topics. Illustrations may also be included. Students exchange journals between each other and critique them in a positive manner. This helps the students further understand the concepts being presented as they have an opportunity to see other student’s work, ask questions of classmates, and offer positive suggestions to each other. Peer assessment of journal writing also helps foster communication between students.

46 GIST GIST is helpful for teachers to use when students fail to read problems carefully before attempting to solve them (Cunningham, 1982). The task is to write a summary of the problem in 12 words or less. The student identifies the 12 most important words needed to solve the problem. The words capture the “gist” of the problem. A chart may be prepared with the word problem at the top and 12 blanks below to be completed by the students. This strategy helps students to recognize information that is not essential to solving the problem. The teacher can model the strategy, then ask students to line out information that is not necessary to solve the problem. Through the use of this strategy, the students learn to distill the essence of the problem.

47 Vocabulary Study Vocabulary knowledge is in constant change as students encounter different uses of terminology in different contexts. In order for students to solve word problems they need to understand the vocabulary used in the problem. Some words are best learned through direct and visual experience and by making connections. An understanding of the words contained in word problems is essential to finding a solution. This literacy strategy can easily be incorporated into mathematics teaching whenever word problems are being studied. The teacher selects words in the problem to review with the students. Words are decoded, and their use within the context of the problem is recognized. The teacher guides the students through the problem, asking questions that require the students to think about what the problem is asking. This strategy promotes the higher level thinking necessary to interpret word problems.

48 Knowledge Rating The Knowledge Rating literacy strategy can easily be incorporated into instruction in any content area (Blachowicz, 1986). It is a pre/during/and post-reading activity. Students begin with a list of vocabulary words and corresponding columns (see sample Knowledge Rating charts). Before reading, students analyze each word and note whether the term is familiar. If the student knows the meaning of the word, a short definition is written in the appropriate column. This pre-reading activity sets the stage for further clarification of the words through discussion or reading. Next, students skim the text to locate the words in context. The location of the word is noted for later reference (with highlighters, removable sticky strips, underlining, etc.). It is permissible to have the students highlight a form of the word, if the exact word is not found first. After reading the text completely, the words are revisited in context, and definitions are noted for each word. Such active participation in processing vocabulary is necessary to understand the text and to help students construct meaning.

49 Writer’s Workshop Writer’s Workshop involves use of an instructional strategy by which students are engaged, encouraged, and developed as writers and readers. Within the context of Writer’s Workshop, a variety of organizational patterns for instruction are used. A whole class session, a small group mini-lesson, or a student- teacher conference are examples of the various intraclass organizational structures. The Writer’s Workshop is devoted to supporting student learning in writing. What students need to learn during a Writer’s Workshop is based upon their present writing competencies and the English language arts standards and benchmarks for each grade level. For the majority of the time in Writer’s Workshop, students will be engaged in actual writing. This strategy may be employed over a period of several days, and has several “sub parts.”

50 Mini-lesson A mini-lesson (Calkins, 1986) provides direct instruction by the teacher which will help students independently engage in their own writing. It is a short, focused lesson about a specific writing technique which is often thought of as an opportunity for the teacher to explain and demonstrate a specific technique for improving a piece of writing. It is an invitation for students to try a particular technique in their own writing. Selection of the topic for the mini-lesson is based on students’ writing needs. A variety of topics may be selected based on the identified need in student writing as the teacher helps the writer to further refine a piece of writing. The minilesson may involve revising a piece of writing based on a need for organization and clarity, while another mini-lesson might focus on helping students generate topic ideas for one’s writing. Teachers may use the writing from one of the students in the class as the text used to discuss the mini-lesson topic. Using your student’s own writing to help other students develop their writing skills helps to build a community of writers. It is important to remember to value student ownership and seek permission to use the student’s writing prior to using it in a minilesson.

51 Goal Setting and Peer Conferences Goal Setting Conference: A goal setting conference is designed to support student literacy achievement during Writer’s Workshop by helping students take responsibility for determining what they will address in their writing and for improving that aspect of their writing. It may also serve as a management technique. It is a useful strategy or technique that is helpful in developing student accountability and responsibility. Peer Conferences: Conferences between students are a powerful means of building community in the Writer’s Workshop setting. They serve to foster independence and student responsibility. Peer conferences may address prewriting, the content of the writing selection, necessary revision, editing needs, or just about any aspect of writing. Structuring time for peer conferences is an important part of Writer’s Workshop.

52 Symbols The idea of using symbols as a literacy strategy has it roots in dual coding theory. The dual coding theory attempts to give equal weight to verbal and nonverbal processing. Human cognition is unique in that it has become specialized for dealing simultaneously with language and with nonverbal objects and events. Moreover, the language system is peculiar in that it deals directly with linguistic input and output (in the form of speech or writing) while at the same time serving a symbolic function with respect to nonverbal objects, events, and behaviors. Any representational theory must accommodate this dual functionality. Symbols support a quick recognition system that allows for fast translation of presented information. Symbols further allow for economy in the amount of information presented. Imagine a weather map where all the important information about fronts and precipitation is represented. If that information were written out, the map itself would be obliterated by textual material. The important information would be obscured. Symbols have always been part of human culture and constitute a common visual language.

53 Subject Use of Symbols Language Arts punctuation, mythology Mathematics operational and relational signs Science periodic chart, weather symbols Social Studies map symbols Health and Safety warning symbols

54 World Wide Vocabulary An online dictionary can be used to discover and learn new vocabulary in many different content area classrooms. To help students feel more comfortable with the technology, it is important for the teacher to demonstrate how to locate sites that will enhance the lesson as well as how to navigate around the sites. It is also important that students recognize the author of the web sites that will be visited or the source of the information found. Information software is another way to incorporate vocabulary activities. Packages that focus on particular subject areas, encyclopedias, and software programs that accompany textbooks give students an opportunity to search for word meanings in a different and exciting way. Online word games, word searches, and puzzles can reinforce the learning of new words and their definitions. Students often enjoy constructing their own word puzzles and games using the computer. A guide sheet can be helpful for students to use with an online vocabulary activity or with a computer software program. Each student can be assigned particular vocabulary words to find. The words can be known words, unknown words, or a combination of words students may or may not be familiar with in the context of the lesson. Students could also work in pairs or small groups of three depending upon the availability of computers, a student’s knowledge of technology, etc. Assignments can vary in terms of finding definitions, using the words in sentences, and restating the meaning of words in context.

55 Directed Reading – Thinking Activity (DR-TA) The Directed Reading-Thinking Activity engages students in a step-by- step process that guides them through informational text. It is designed to move students through the process of reading text. Questions are asked and answered, and predictions are made and tested throughout the reading. Additionally, new questions and predictions are formulated as the student progresses through the text. While the teacher guides the process, the student determines the purpose for reading. To introduce the strategy, the teacher gives examples of how to make predictions. A preview of the section to be read is given by having the students read the title and make predictions. Independent thinking is encouraged as knowledge from previous lessons is incorporated into the predictions. All student predictions should be recorded by the teacher, even those that will later prove to be inaccurate. Misconceptions are clarified by the reader through interaction with the text and in post-reading discussions. After reading small selections, the teacher prompts the students with questions about specific information. It is important for the teacher not to interrupt too often. The amount of reading is adjusted depending on the purpose and the difficulty of the text.

56 Directed Reading – Thinking Activity (DR-TA) The reading is broken into small sections, giving the students time to think about and process information. The teacher makes sure students can identify and understand important vocabulary. Words are explained in context. This literacy strategy allows students to ask questions or make predictions using their own words in a non-threatening environment. Everyone is on the “same page” and has the information right in front of them. New concepts and ideas are connected to those learned in previous lessons. As the reading continues, questions are answered and predictions are confirmed, revised, or rejected. The predicting-reading-proving cycle continues throughout the lesson. The format can be varied with different activities and by integrating technology. Predictions made at the beginning of the lesson should be revisited at the end of the lesson as a closing activity. This review offers a comprehension check. Questions such as, “Were you correct?” and, “What do you think now?” help students examine the proof of their predictions.

57 The Pre-Reading Plan (PReP) The PreReading Plan, or PReP (Langer, 1981), is a before-reading strategy that helps teachers assess student’s prior knowledge. How students’ prior knowledge is organized can be determined as well as the quality and quantity of language that students use to express their knowledge about a particular topic. There are three phases in the PReP procedure: Phase One: The Initial Associations with the concept Students brainstorm what they know about the topic or a key vocabulary term and hear their classmates’ associations. This activity helps students think about what they already know and sets the stage for more critical analysis of content. Phase Two: Reflections on the Initial Associations Students are asked to reflect on their Initial Associations with questions such as, “What made you think of…?” or “Why did this response come to mind?” Phase Three: Reformulation of Knowledge After the discussion and before reading, ask for new ideas. Students have the opportunity to verbalize associations that have been elaborated or changed. This discussion helps students understand how others are constructing meaning.

58 Listen-Read-Discuss The literacy strategy Listen-Read-Discuss helps students comprehend text. Before reading, students listen to a short lecture delivered by the teacher. A guide or graphic organizer can be used to help students follow the information. The students then read a text selection about the topic. This explanation is compared with the information from the lecture. The passage from the textbook should cover the same information introduced in the lecture. Long reading assignments that bring in other topics are not appropriate. The teacher should let the students know that the purpose for reading is to experience another explanation of the topic and to compare it to the information they have just heard. After reading, there is a large group discussion or students engage in small group discussions about the topic. Questions should be encouraged. Students may be asked to complete an information sheet or a writing activity to further develop understanding.

59 Anticipation Guide Anticipation Guides consist of the following steps: Planning: Select major concepts and supporting details in a text selection, lecture, or other information source. Identify students’ experiences and beliefs that will be challenged and, in some cases, supported by the material. Create statements that reflect students’ prereading beliefs and that may challenge and modify those beliefs. Three to five statements are usually adequate. Arrange the statements on paper, transparency, or board. Prereading: Have students respond to each statement individually. You may ask them to justify their responses for a reference point during a later discussion. Engage the students in a prereading discussion asking them to justify their responses to the statements. Notes: You may include an “I’m not sure” response, for students who do not feel comfortable with a definite answer. This will help determine the students’ prior knowledge. Let the students know the statements are designed to make them think about topics and to make them think about what they will be learning.

60 Reaction Guide The Reaction Guide is a post-reading strategy that serves as a review of the learning. Post-reading reactions to the same statements from the Anticipation Guide allow students an opportunity to reassess their original responses.

61 Discussion Groups Teachers need to model the process of how a small group should function. To introduce the roles within the group, a small group should be formed for the entire class to observe. The teacher and students can assume assigned roles within the group and demonstrate the process, with the teacher’s direct guidance. Examples of how a discussion can be used to solve a problem, answer questions, or accomplish a task can be modeled. Groups should be made up of five, four, or three students. It is important that group members have specific responsibilities in order to complete the assignment and to know exactly what is expected of them. For instance, roles can include: facilitator, recorder, clerk, and manager.

62 Vocabulary Self-Collection Strategy (VSS) The purpose of the Vocabulary Self-Collection Strategy is to help students generate a list of words to be explored and learned and to use their own prior knowledge and interests to enhance their vocabulary. This strategy can be used to stimulate growth in word knowledge. Because the list is self-generated, an internal motivation is utilized. This strategy can help students become fascinated with language and thus, increase their enjoyment of the subject. Students are put into cooperative groups and asked to go through the assigned reading (for example a chapter in their book) to identify words that they think ought to be studied further. Students are to find words that are important to understanding the content of a particular text selection. The meaning and importance of the words can be discussed in cooperative groups prior to sharing them with the whole class. Next, a class list of words is developed. Each team submits one word from their list to the class, giving its meaning and why they consider it important. The word is recorded for display. Each other group then submits a different word. This action is repeated until all selected words are on display. The teacher can also submit a word to the list. The teacher then leads a discussion for clarification and expansion of the meanings of the terms. A dictionary or the index of the text can be checked for word meanings when necessary. Students’ prior knowledge is applied in the discussion.

63 Three-Level Study Guides The three-level study guide is one form of a study guide that helps students develop multiple levels of understanding when reading a text. This literacy strategy is extremely useful in helping students become critical thinkers as they develop independence in reading comprehension. The following steps facilitate developing and using a three-level study guide: Step 1: Analyze content and identify major concepts & important details Step 2: Develop questions at multiple levels of understanding EXPLICIT LEVEL - Right on the Page IMPLICIT LEVEL - Think and Search EXPERIENCE-BASED - On Your Own Step 3: Assign the study guide and engage students in small group discussions

64 Plan for the Afternoon Session 1:00 – 2:30 Break into discipline area teams to plan a lesson using one of the strategies 2:45 – 3:30 Sharing lessons, making plans, and question period


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