Teaching Literacy in the Disciplines and Teaching Disciplinary Literacy

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Teaching Literacy in the Disciplines and Teaching Disciplinary Literacy. Timothy Shanahan Cynthia Shanahan University of Illinois at Chicago www.shanahanonliteracy.com. Two Problems. PROBLEM I - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Disciplinary Literacy for Adolescents: Rethinking Content-Area Literacy

Teaching Literacy in the Disciplines and Teaching Disciplinary LiteracyTimothy ShanahanCynthia Shanahan

University of Illinois at Chicagowww.shanahanonliteracy.com

1Two ProblemsPROBLEM I

Significant numbers of students read so poorly that they are unlikely to have access to full participation in American societyLack of Literacy 25% of 8th and 12th graders read at below basic levels (NAEP, 2005)1.2 million students drop out of high school each year (AEE, 2007)High school dropouts earn an average of $17,299 per year (U.S. Census, 2005)Less than 10% of African Americans read at proficient or higher levels (NAEP, 2005)

Two Problems (cont.)PROBLEM II

Significant numbers of students who are deemed literate are not sufficiently literate to succeed in college or careerInsufficient Literacy AttainmentA college degree is now the single greatest factor in determining access to better job opportunities and higher earnings (Children's Defense Fund, 2000) 36% of college students require remedial classes at a cost of $3.7 billion annually (U.S. Department of Education, 2011)thats 36% of the 70% who start collegeOnly about 50% of students entering college are equipped to handle the reading assignments of beginning college classes (ACT, 2006) Some SolutionsEnhancements to early literacy instruction--According to NAEP, there have been clear reading improvements among fourth-graders since 1992--And yet, middle school students are reading no better than then (and high schoolers appear to have fallen)

Some Solutions (cont.)Avoiding text --Since 1990 there have been content (knowledge) standards in history, science, mathematics, English language arts --Teachers have found ways of getting info to students without texts (e.g., Powerpoint, video)--But ACT has found that amount of text reading between 7th and 12th grades was the best preparation of later success Some Solutions (cont.)Reducing Text Difficulty--Low readability textbooks a staple (educators have lowered readability levels of textbooks for more than 70 years)--Research has documented correlation between lowered textbook difficulty and lowered SAT performances --ACT study found not only was amount of in class reading significant, but that this reading had to be implemented with hard text (not easy text) Some Solutions (cont.)Increasing remedial classes--But this will only impact those who are not going to college--IES studies and funding streams (e.g., Striving Readers) suggest that at best remedial classes in high school will raise reading achievement only about 2 mos. Some Solutions (cont.)Elevating literacy and literacy instruction up through through the grades--ACT found that state standards did not take specific reading standards through high school --Common core changes that for 45 states--Specific to content area classes (literature, science, social studies)Two Approaches to Secondary Literacy Instruction Content area readingDisciplinary literacyContent Area ReadingHas long history in educationMany secondary teachers have preparation in content area readingLots of books and resources for teachersButDisciplinary literacy is the approach that the common core has takenThe purpose of the first part of this talk is to explore the dimensions of disciplinary literacy and to distinguish the widely known concept (content area reading) from the newer and quite different concept (disciplinary literacy)

Disciplinary literacy?

Disciplinary Reading InstructionNot the hip new name for content area readingEach discipline possesses its own language, purposes, and ways of using text that students should be inducted intoThere are special skills and strategies needed for students to make complete sense of texts from the disciplinesAs students begin to confront these kinds of texts (especially in middle school and high school), instruction must facilitate their understanding of what it means to read disciplinary texts Comparing Content Area Reading and Disciplinary LiteracyContent Area ReadingDisciplinary LiteracySourceReading experts since 1920sWider range of experts since 1980sSources of Content Area Reading In 1920s, the idea of every teacher a teacher of reading first raisedRhetoric is good, but fundamental idea is that reading experts know the necessary reading skills and that those should be taught across the curriculumLeads to the development of lots of general study skills approaches: SQ3R, KWL, three-level guides, etc.Research focuses on effectiveness of these instructional routines (accordingly, content reading approaches are pedagogical in nature)

Sources of Disciplinary LiteracyStudies that compare expert readers with novices (Bazerman, 1985; Geisler, 1994; Wineburg, 1991, etc.)Functional linguistics analyses of the unique practices in creating, disseminating, evaluating knowledge (Fang, 2004; Halliday, 1998; Schleppegrell, 2004, etc.)

History Reading (Wineburg)Sourcing: considering the author and author perspectiveContextualizing: placing the document/info within its historical period and placeCorroboration: evaluating information across sources

Comparing Content Area Reading and Disciplinary LiteracyContent Area ReadingDisciplinary LiteracySourceReading experts since 1920sWider range of experts since 1990sNature of skillsGeneralizableSpecializedContent area readingGeneralizable skills and activities that can be used in all or most reading:KWLSummarizationSQ3RPreviewingWord mapsBrainstormingFrayer modelNotetaking3-level guidesQARDR-TAI-ChartsMorphological analysisReciprocal teaching

Disciplinary readingSpecialized skills and activitiesIdea is to consider the learning demands of a subject matterExample: textbook useScience-EssentialHistory-AntitheticalLiterature-Irrelevant

Chemistry Note-taking

SubstancesPropertiesProcessesInteractionsAtomic Expression23Experts, teacher educators and high school teachers displayed reluctance in embracing the idea of strategy instruction. For most, the concept was new, and the reading strategies we shared with them seemed contrived and irrelevant. This reluctance was revealing, because it mirrored the disinclination of the preservice students in the high school literacy class. The chemistry teams reluctance only changed when we introduced our version of structured summarization, a strategy that we based specifically on their insights about chemistry reading. Using this strategy, students take notes in a chart format. Each section of the chart reflected the information that these chemistry specialists said was essential to reading chemistry text. Because chemistry is about the properties of substances and their reactions, a reader who paid attention to these would be engaging in a disciplinary-focused reading. We had illustrated the chart using information from one of the chemistry textbooks the team members had shared with us. One of the chemists who had been dismissive of teaching content area reading strategies (such as summarization) in chemistry reacted by saying, Well, if they used this, they would be learning chemistry. He then suggested a modification (the inclusion of a place to summarize atomic expression). The difference between this strategy and summarization was its subject-matter specificity. This strategy was not just about understanding text; it was also about understanding the essence of chemistry.This structured-summarization strategy meshed well with concerns the chemists had expressed earlier when they examined high school chemistry textbooks: the need to identify where the chemistry was. That is, although they understood that some of the information in the text was included purely for motivational purposes or to establish context for students, they were concerned that what students were actually supposed to learn about chemistry was obscured and hidden by these devices. One of the chemistry teachers bitterly complained about a text she had to use in which each chapter began with a real-life problem (such as lake pollution) that was then followed by an explanation of the chemistry behind the problem. She complained that the students were not learning the chemistry. Chemistry learning is somewhat hierarchical in nature. The concepts build on each other, and these concepts can then be applied to situations. That is, the principles are taught as abstractions, and the particulars are exemplars of the abstractions. This chemistry book, however, perseverated on the particular, providing students with little real opportunity to learn the abstractions that could be used to solve other problems. Content area reading: VocabularyFocus is on memorization techniques: make connections among concepts, construct graphic organizers, brainstorm, semantic maps, word sorts, rate knowledge of words, analyze semantic features of words, categorize or map words, develop synonym webs,

Disciplinary literacy: VocabularyFocus is on specialized nature of vocabulary of the subjectsScience: Greek and Latin roots (precise, dense, stable meanings that are recoverable)History: metaphorical terms, words/terms with a political point of view

Increasing Specialization of Literacy26This pyramid illustrates the development of literacy. The pyramid base represents highly generalizable basic skills entailed in all reading tasks, (decoding skills, print and literacy conventions, recognition of high-frequency words, basic punctuation, etc). Most kids master these in the primary grades, and even those who struggle tend to master them before high school entry. As students progress, more sophisticated skills develop. These skills are not as widely applicable to different texts and reading situations, but neither are they linked to particular disciplinary specializations. They include decoding multisyllabic words, less common punctuation (such as split quotes), knowing more vocabulary including words not common in oral language, developing the cognitive endurance to maintain attention to extended discourse, monitoring comprehension, and using fix-up procedures such as rereading. They gain access to more complex forms of text organization, and begin to use author purpose as a tool for critical response. Most students learn these by the end of middle school, but many schoolers struggle with them. In high school, some students even begin to master more specialized reading routines/language uses, but these new routines, though powerful, tend to be constrained in their applicability to most reading tasks. The constraints on the generalizability of literacy skills for more advanced readers symbolized here by the narrowing of the pyramid are imposed by the increasingly disciplinary and technical turn in the nature of literacy tasks. Although most students manage to master basic and even intermediate literacy skills, many never gain proficiency with these more advanced skills.Progressing higher in the pyramid means learning more sophisticated, but less generalizable, skills and routines. Comparing Content Area Reading and Disciplinary LiteracyContent Area ReadingDisciplinary LiteracySourceReading experts since 1920sWider range of experts since 1990sNature of skillsGeneralizableSpecializedFocusUse of reading and writing to study/learn informationHow literacy is used to make meaning within a disciplineContent area readingThe focus is on learning from textThe idea is not to read like a chemist, but to know how to study books (including chemistry books)Emphasis on literacy learning tools:Exit notesAdvanced organizersResponse journalsDictionaryInternetReadability analysis

Disciplinary readingThe focus is on the specialized problems of a subject areaDisciplines represent cultural differences in how information is used, the nature of language, demands for precision, etc.

Math ReadingGoal: arrive at truthImportance of close reading an intensive consideration of every word in the text Rereading a major strategyHeavy emphasis on error detectionPrecision of understanding essential 30For example, during think-alouds, the mathematicians emphasized rereading and close reading as two of their most important strategies. One of the mathematicians explained that, unlike other fields, even function words were important. The has a very different meaning than a, he explained. Students often attempt to read mathematics texts for the gist, or general idea, but this kind of text cannot be appropriately understood without close reading. Math reading requires a precision of meaning, and each word must be understood specifically in service to that particular meaning. In fact, the other mathematician noted that it sometimes took years of rereading for him to completely understand a particular proof.The mathematicians we studied were theoretical rather than applied mathematicians. In their field, errorless proofs are by their very nature true, and the purpose of their work is to create these proofs; hence, to create truth. Because proofs must be error free, they are read carefully in order to discover any possible error. Every word matters. Rereading is essential. One mathematician said, I try to determine whether its [the solution to the problem] correct. Thats the important criteria, and its by no means assumed. It would be unusual to read a paper like this and not find something incorrect. This mathematician is illustrating the belief that truth (correctness within the confines of a particular problem) is attainable if one can determine an error-free solution. However, errors are easy to make, so vigilance is required. Chemistry ReadingText provides knowledge that allows prediction of how the world worksFull understanding needed of experiments or processesClose connections among prose, graphs, charts, formulas (alternative representations of constructs an essential aspect of chemistry text) Major reading strategies include corroboration and transformation31The chemists were most interested in the transformation of information from one form to another. That is, when reading prose, they were visualizing, writing down formulas, or if a diagram or a chart were on the page, going back and forth between the graph and the chart. One chemist explained, They give you the structure, the structure of the sensor is given, so I was looking at the picture as I was reading, and I tried to relate what was in the picture to what they were saying about how mercury binds to one part of the molecule. This explanation, corroborated by the chemists other comments, helped us to understand that in chemistry, different or alternative representations (e.g., pictures, graphs or charts, text, or diagrams) of an idea are essential for a full understa...