By Toni Bower
The philosophy of disciplinary literacy has been around for many years. The idea and practices might not have been elevated as much as they could have been. Have you heard, “Every teacher teaches reading and writing?” This is NOT disciplinary literacy. Let’s shift this thinking to “Every teacher teaches literacy skills essential to their discipline.” Our students deserve the reinforcement of the literacy skills and instructional practices that support their access to discipline-specific content and ability to be successful in learning across their day. We know that literacy happens in each and every content, but how are students accessing the information? How are they communicating it? How are they “thinking” in the various content classrooms? We want our students to participate alongside their teachers and with their peers, and not as observers.
There are some content literacy skills that classrooms use but there are also discipline-specific literacies too. This chart from Lent & Voigt separates some literacy skills illustrating the differences.
Disciplinary literacy lifts the discipline/content first and then incorporates the literacy skills through the lens of the discipline. Content literacies/ interdisciplinary literacy uses the literacy skills (taught in ELA classrooms) and brings them across all classrooms. For the most part, the skill looks the same across the disciplines (with very minor tweaks).
Currently there are several middle schools learning together through a leader group and taking the work back to their classrooms and teams. Professional development opportunities were provided for secondary instructional coaches around using MAP data in all content areas to better build understanding on students' proficiency levels in literacy and how to adapt classroom instructional practices to support all students. Additional professional development was shared with our new secondary teachers around using “Talk Moves” in all content areas to help students engage and use deeper thinking in the disciplines.
If you have any questions, want more information, or want to collaborate on professional learning or other opportunities for you, your teachers, or your students, please contact Toni Bower. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Curriculum & Instruction