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Literacy Across the Curriculum. with Kate Ellis North Tonawanda City School District Welcome!. Today’s Agenda: What is literacy? Identifying the need for secondary literacy instruction The changing demands of literacy instruction

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literacy across the curriculum

Literacy Across the Curriculum

with Kate Ellis

North Tonawanda City School District


Today’s Agenda:

  • What is literacy?
  • Identifying the need for secondary literacy instruction
  • The changing demands of literacy instruction
  • What does literacy look like in your classroom?
  • Parting words of inspiration from Taylor Mali
what is literacy
  • Write a definition of literacy on your ppt handout.
  • Share with a neighbor.
  • Revise your definition if necessary.
  • Share aloud.
literacy defined
Literacy Defined

LITERACY IS…the ability to identify,

understand, interpret, create, communicate,

compute, and use printed and written

materials associated with varying contexts.

Literacy involves a continuum of learning to

enable an individual to achieve his or her

goals, to develop his or her knowledge and

potential, and to participate fully in society as

a whole.

but literacy is also
But Literacy is also…
  • The ability to interpret graphics and visuals
  • The ability to speak properly in multiple situations and communicate ideas effectively
  • The ability to comprehend what is heard
  • The ability to navigate through a technological world
  • The ability to write effectively in multiple genres
literacy in the 21 st century
Literacy in the 21st Century

“Literacy in the 21st Century will mean the ability to find information, decode it, critically evaluate it, organize it into personal digital libraries, and find meaningful ways to share it with others. Information is raw material — students will need to learn to build with it.”

From: The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman

literacy for the 21 st century
Literacy for the 21st Century

“Adolescents entering the adult world in the 21st century will read and write more than at any other time in human history. They will need advanced levels of literacy to perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens, and conduct their personal lives. They will need literacy to cope with the flood of information they will find everywhere they turn. In a complex and sometimes even dangerous world, their ability to read will be crucial.”(IRA, 1999)

changing literacy demands
Changing Literacy Demands
  • Between 1996 and 2006, the average literacy required for all American occupations increased by 14%.
  • The 25 fastest growing professions have far greater than average literacy demands, while the 25 fastest declining professions have lower than average literacy demands.

(Barton, 2000; Reading Next, 2004)

today s reality high school
Today’s Reality: High School
  • Only 30% of high school students graduate as proficient readers who are college-ready (Greene & Forster, 2003).
  • Less than 50% of youth who take the ACT are prepared for the demands of college reading(ACT, 2006).
  • 35 - 40% of high school graduates do not have the sophisticated reading and writing skills that employers seek (Achieve, Inc., 2005; Kaestle et al., 2001; National Commission on Writing, 2004).
today s reality college readiness
Today’s Reality: College Readiness
  • Only 51% of ACT-tested high school graduates were able to successfully perfom college-level reading tasks.
  • Students’ readiness for college-level reading is at its lowest point in more than a decade.

(Reading Between the Lines, ACT, 2006)

who has reading difficulties
Who Has Reading Difficulties?
  • Percentage of students reading below a Basic Level of competence:

--Grade 4 38%

--Grade 8 29%

--Grade 12 26% (2002)

  • Percentage of students reading below a Proficient Level of competence:

--Grade 4 71%

--Grade 8 71%

--Grade 12 64% (2002)

opportunity for content area literacy learning a matter of equity
Opportunity for Content Area Literacy Learning:A Matter of Equity

If students do not have the opportunity to learn subject area knowledge, concepts, and vocabulary, then their capacity to read a broader range of texts will be further diminished.

findings from studies of middle and high school literacy
Findings from Studies of Middle and High School Literacy
  • Secondary students have abundant experience with low level literacy tasks that do not engage them in disciplinary reading and reasoning.
    • “I know the teacher will go over it and tell us what it means, so I don’t have to read it.”
    • “I don’t know if they care, but no one reads the textbook. You just look for the answer to the questions at the end of the section. You can slide by without them knowing.”
findings continued
Findings Continued
  • Underperforming students hold powerful misconceptions of reading and learning that do not serve them well
    • “Good readers read fast and know what all the words mean.”
    • “Some people can just read the paragraph and know what it means. I can’t do that. I’m just not a reader.”
  • Many high school students are profoundly inexperienced with advanced academic reading and literacy tasks
what are academic literacy demands
What are Academic Literacy Demands?

Across all content areas students should be able to…

  • Read
  • Write
  • Listen/view
  • Discuss/present
  • Think critically and creatively
  • Use language and vocabulary to read and comprehend text to support the learning of content
reflection what are the academic literacy demands of my content area
Reflection: What are the Academic Literacy Demands of my content area?
  • What type of activities or tasksare required of students in my content area?
  • What type of textsdo students read in my content area?
  • What reading and writing skills will students need to use those texts proficiently?
  • What discussion and presentation skills will students need to verbalize understanding?
reflection what are the academic literacy demands of my content area1
Reflection: What are the academic literacy demands of my content area?


  • What listening and viewing skills will students need to connect with the standards and objectives of my specific content area?
  • What higher-order thinking skills will students need to use to move beyond basic understanding of content text?
if someone came to my room looking for a literacy rich classroom what would they see not see
If someone came to my room looking for a literacy-rich classroom, what would they see/not see?
  • Reading comprehension strategy instruction
  • Writing instruction
  • Opportunities for listening and viewing
  • Opportunities for deep discussion and presenting
  • Instruction in use of higher-order thinking skills
challenges of literacy in the academic disciplines
Challenges of Literacy in the Academic Disciplines
  • Presentation of ideas through varied symbolic means
  • Broad range of characteristic text types
  • Specialized uses of language
  • Densely packed ideas
  • Different ways of thinking, reading, writing, speaking in different disciplines
academic disciplines have distinct literacy practices
Academic Disciplines Have Distinct Literacy “Practices”
  • Specialized ways of reading, writing, speaking and reasoning that are specific to an intellectual discipline
    • Particular reasons to read and write
    • Conventional forms of text & means of representation
  • Valued reasoning processes
    • Traditions of argumentation: What counts as a good question, evidence, problem, or solution
content area teachers have expert blind spots
Content Area Teachers have “Expert Blind Spots”
  • Secondary teachers tend to underestimate the literacy demands of their subject areas.
  • Content area teachers are largely unaware of their own specialized literacy expertise.
  • To support the content literacy learning of their students, teachers need to learn to see past their “expert blind spots.”
roles and responsibilities of content area teachers for literacy instruction
Roles and Responsibilities of content area teachers for Literacy Instruction
  • You will not be held responsible for teaching basic reading skills to middle and high school students.
  • Yet you should clearly understand that you do have the responsibility to provide instruction in the kinds of reading and writing that are specific to your academic discipline.
core beliefs
Core Beliefs
  • Content area teachers should know what is distinct about the reading, writing, and reasoning processes of their discipline and how to give students frequent and supported opportunities to read, write, and think in these ways.
  • The best teachers of discipline-based literacy practices are themselves able to read, write, and think like specialists in their fields.
a day in the life of an adolescent reader
A Day in the Life of an Adolescent Reader

Act 1 - Scene 1

Venice. A street.



Tush! never tell me; I take it much unkindlyThat thou, Iago, who hast had my purseAs if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this.


'Sblood, but you will not hear me:If ever I did dream of such a matter, Abhor me.


Thou told'st me thou didst hold him in thy hate.


Despise me, if I do not. Three great ones of the city,In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,Off-capp'd to him: and, by the faith of man,I know my price, I am worth no worse a place:But he; as loving his own pride and purposes,Evades them, with a bombast circumstance

a day in the life of an adolescent reader2
A Day in the Life of an Adolescent Reader

“Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”:

FDR’s First Inaugural Address

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

a day in the life of an adolescent reader4
A Day in the Life of an Adolescent Reader

Vincent Van Gogh Self Portraits

In the most limited definition of the term, Impressionism as the objective study of light did not encourage so essentially a subjective study as the self-portrait but in the later expansion of the movement this self-representation was given renewed force by Cézanne and van Gogh. The latter has often been compared with Rembrandt in the number and expressiveness of his self-portraits but while Rembrandt's were distributed through a lifetime, van Gogh produced some thirty in all in the short space of five years --- from the end of the Brabant period (1885) to the last year of his life at St Rémy and Auvers. In each there is the same extraordinary intensity of expression concentrated in the eyes but otherwise there is a considerable variety. From the Paris period onwards he used different adaptations of Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist brushwork, separate patches of colour being applied with varying thickness and direction in a way that makes each painting a fresh experience.

Self-Portrait Dedicated to Paul Gauguin 1888 (130 Kb); Oil on canvas, 60.5 x 49.4 cm (23 3/4 x 19 1/2 in); Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

a day in the life of an adolescent reader5
A Day in the Life of an Adolescent Reader

Oven Baked Macaroni and Cheese


1 8oz. box of elbow macaroni, cooked and drained

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar


Preheat oven to 360 degrees.

Prepare macaroni using directions on box and drain well.

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir to remove

lumps. Pour in milk and cook until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Add cheese and stir until melted. Add macaroni and stir until all macaroni is

incorporated. Pour mixture into 2 qt. casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes.

a day in the life of an adolescent reader6
A Day in the Life of an Adolescent Reader

Calculate Your Training Heart Rate Range


Subtract your age from 220. (Example for an 18-year-old: 220 - 18 = 202.)


Multiply the result by 0.55 to determine 55 percent of your estimated

maximum heart rate. (For an 18-year-old: 202 x 0.55 = 111.1, or approximately

111 beats per minute). This is the low end of your training range, or the

slowest your heart should beat when you exercise.


Multiply the result from step 1 by 0.90 to calculate 90 percent of your

estimated maximum heart rate. (For an 18-year-old: 202 x 0.90 = 181.8, or

approximately 182 beats per minute). This is the high end of your training

range, or the fastest that your heart should beat when you exercise.


Use your answers from steps 2 and 3 to determine your training heart rate

range. (An 18-year-old's training range is 111 to 182 beats per minute).



What can I do in my own classroom?

try these ideas
Read multiple varieties of text

Use Graphic Organizers to help kids capture thoughts and meaning

Use Before, During, and After Reading strategies

Allow kids to annotate text

Differentiate assignments by choice

Allow kids to talk

Use Admit and Exit Slips

Allow kids to “play” with vocabulary words

Provide time for and require written reflection

Plan structured debates

Require kids to make presentations

Require kids to collaborate on projects

Require kids to create original products

Try These Ideas:
consider these resources

Consider these resources:;col1