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Promoting Literacy Across the Curriculum:. Addressing a 21 st Century Crisis. Overview. The Context: PD Leave Research question: How can we create more of a reading culture in the ELI? The Crisis in Literacy: Is [the lack of] reading “the silent killer” in literacy skills?

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Promoting literacy across the curriculum

Promoting Literacy Across the Curriculum:

Addressing a 21st Century Crisis



  • The Context: PD Leave Research question: How can we create more of a reading culture in the ELI?

  • The Crisis in Literacy: Is [the lack of] reading “the silent killer” in literacy skills?

  • What should we do to address this problem?

What is the crisis in literacy

What is the crisis in literacy?

Literacy crisis

Literacy Crisis

  • Economic development

  • Inequities in distribution of literacy skills

  • Insufficient skills in the workforce

  • Less time spent reading by younger generations, especially boys!

“In Education Chinese Students Lead the World.”

Adolescent literacy trends

Adolescent Literacy Trends

  • PISA 2009

  • Girls outperformed boys.

  • Ss reading less than in previous years.

  • Ss with the most strategies had highest scores.

  • Countries that targeted struggling readers improved their scores.

Literacy scores by gender at age 15.

How generation m reads

How Generation M Reads

Percentage of Time Spent Reading While Using Other Media

7th- to 12th-Graders in 2003–2004

Percentage of reading time

Reading while:

  • Watching TV 11%

  • Listening to music 10%

  • Doing homework on the computer 3%

  • Playing videogames 3%

  • Playing computer games 2%

  • Using the computer (other) 2%

  • Instant messaging 2%

  • E-mailing 1%

  • Surfing websites 1%

  • Using any of the above media 35%

    Source: The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Media Multitasking Among Youth: Prevalence, Predictors and Pairings, (# 7592), 2006 as quoted in To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence (2007), NEA. Retrieved on October 17, 2011 from

What do declines mean for literacy

What do declines mean for literacy?

Promoting literacy across the curriculum

“…the decline in the percentage of Proficient readers is occurring at the highest educational levels.” (To Read or Not to Read)

Table 6C. Percentage of Adults Proficient in Reading Prose, by Highest Level of Educational Attainment

Education level 1992 2003 Change Rate of decline

Less than/some high school 1% 1% 0 0

High school graduate 5% *4% *-1 pp *-20%

Vocational/trade/business school 9% 5% -4 pp -44%

Some college 14% *11% *-3 pp *-21%

Associate’s/2-year degree 23% *19% *-4 pp *-17%

Bachelor’s degree 40% 31% -9 pp -22%

Graduate study/degree 51% 41% -10 pp - 20%

* No statistically significant change

pp = percentage points

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics as quoted inTo Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence (2007), NEA retrieved on October 17, 2011 from

Young adults read the least

Young adults read the least

To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence (2007), NEA retrieved on October 17, 2011 from

What s the link between reading and writing skills

What’s the link between reading and writing skills?

L1: Reading for pleasure correlates strongly with academic achievement.

  • Voluntary readers are better readers and writers than non-readers.

  • Frequent readers also score better on writing tests than non-readers or infrequent readers.

    (“To Read or Not to Read,” 2007)

    L2 reading skills contribute moderately to better L2 writing skills in Japanese high school students (Ito, 2011)

Complaints from employers

Complaints from Employers

To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence (2007), NEA retrieved on October 17, 2011 from

Pisa recommendations

PISA Recommendations

  • Teach reading strategies.

  • Close the gap between lowest and highest performers.

  • Promote and encourage reading for pleasure.

  • Focus on boys as early as possible.

At auc what do we know

At AUC: What do we know?

How much reading is expected during the school year?

  • 39% of FY students read more than 10 assigned books and packs of course readings. 27% read fewer than 5.

    How much writing is expected?

  • 16% of FY students write more than 10 papers between 5 and 19 pages and 41% have written a paper more than 20 pages in length.

    The Student Experience in Brief: AUC. NSSE Results accessed October 17, 2011 from

How much time do students spend on homework each week

How much time do students spend on homework each week?

  • 36% of FY students spend more than 15 hours per week preparing for class. 19% spend 5 hours or less.

    The Student Experience in Brief: AUC. NSSE Results accessed October 17, 2011 from

21 st century learning

21st Century Learning


What should we do

What should we do?

Mckenna s affirmation

McKenna’s Affirmation

“When a child and a book ‘connect,’ so that an extraordinary personal significance is attached by the child to the reading experience, then the belief structures regarding the child’s expectations about reading and books will change positively. When the child’s choices are not guided by teachers attempting to bring about such connections, reading may never be more than an extended series of relatively tedious and largely superficial encounters with print.”(McKenna, 2001, p. 148)

Innovative reading programs

Innovative Reading Programs

  • Reading Ladders

  • Investigating Big Ideas

  • Literature Circles/Book Clubs

  • One Book, One Community

  • Readers’ Theater

  • Questioning the Author

  • Reading Buddies

  • Reading Olympics

  • Book talks

  • Book trailers

  • Illustrating Book Passages

  • Book Exchanges on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Wikis

  • Modeled Readings (Ts, buddies, recordings)

  • Book Floods

  • Reading Workshops

  • Literary Letters

  • “Gotta Keep Reading”

A current burning question

A current burning question

Schools have not been very successful in helping slow readers catch up with their peers. The question is, how can education be restructured in such a way that children at risk become better readers and do not face years of failure?

(Verhoeven, 2001)

Reading attitudes

Reading attitudes

  • Tend to worsen over time and

  • Worsen more rapidly for poor readers.

  • Girls tend to possess more positive reading attitudes than boys.

  • Ethnic group membership is not, in itself, strongly related to reading attitudes.

    (McKenna, 2001)

Positive effects of techniques and materials on attitudes to reading

Positive Effects of Techniques and Materials on Attitudes to Reading

  • Using high-quality literature

  • Using questions to activate prior knowledge

  • Reading aloud to students

  • Stressing links between literature and the lives of students

  • Training children in metacognitive thinking

  • Arranging for students to participate in literature discussion groups

  • Arranging for children to correspond with college students about reading (McKenna, 2001)

Principles for promoting reading motivation

Principles for Promoting Reading Motivation

  • Conceptual themes

  • Real-world interactions

  • Support for self-direction

  • Using interesting texts

  • Cognitive strategy instruction

  • Social collaboration

  • Supporting students’ self-expression

    (Guthrie & Knowles, 2001)

Reading ladders

Reading Ladders

Begin with the end in mind. (Covey, 1989)

Find out where students are on the ladder and bring them where they need to be.

(Lesesne, 2010)

What readings should we assign


Thoughtful selection of meaningful, accessible texts

Connections to larger, enduring questions

Good writing! Compelling writing is better!

Provide variety: articles, book(s), films or film clips, visuals (21st century literacy!)


Ferial Ghazoul’s Rule of 12

Books, longer texts

Divide into meaningful chunks

What readings should we assign?

Developing the strategic reader

Developing the Strategic Reader

Promoting engagement and habits of mind

3 key questions for processing in groups or reading journals:

  • What did it say? Main ideas

  • Response: How do you feel? What do you think?

  • Criticism: How does it connect to what you know? To other texts?

Developing strategic readers

Developing Strategic Readers

  • Promote Active Reading: “How to Mark a Book”

  • Bring Books to Class. Model text interaction in class.

  • Create a Purpose: Who is Yali and what is his question?

  • Point out Text Structure: Titles, pictures, charts and graphs, discourse and structure patterns

Developing strategic readers1

Developing Strategic Readers

  • Metacognitive Strategies: Discuss the reading experience

    • What keeps you reading? Why did you choose this text? Do they like it? What if they don’t understand?

  • Build awareness of allusions: Cultural, geographical, historical, literary

  • Honor Student Questions: Make them responsible

Vocabulary strategies

Vocabulary Strategies

  • Flashcards for academic and discipline-based words

    • Online Vocab Collection Sites: Quizlet

    • Anki:

  • Determine meaning from context

  • Roots, prefixes, suffixes

  • Dictionary Use

Making reading meaningful

Making Reading Meaningful

  • Connect to the bigger, enduring questions


    • How can you find your best path to fulfillment in life? Does fate shape our lives or do we truly make choices?

    • What should we let go of and what should we keep?

  • Connect to local and world events

  • Connect each new chapter or text to previous ones and to other texts students have read

The last word

The last word

Find ways to make reading fluent and meaningful!

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