Literacy skills are essential for learning new information. According to Ulusoy & Dedeoglu (2011), the ability to read is critical to the success of a student in any subject area. Writing can also play an important role in learning across content areas.
With the introduction of Writing ASOLs last year, many teachers expressed frustration at having another subject to teach. When done in isolation, teaching reading, writing, math, science, and social studies seems a daunting task. On the other hand, if teachers were to embed literacy skills into math, science, and social studies instruction, it would not only make better use of instructional time, but also improve the quality of education for students. Stephens and Brown (2009) noted that teachers can increase effectiveness in reaching more students by integrating literacy strategies into their regular classroom instruction. Literacy skills are essential for learning new information. According to Ulusoy & Dedeoglu (2011), the ability to read is critical to the success of a student in any subject area. Writing can also play an important role in learning across content areas. When writing is incorporated in learning, there is increased opportunity to produce the ideal situation for active, attentive learning (Willis, 2011). Not only does writing improve long term memory, but it gives students an opportunity to be creative, and to create a product (e.g., writing sample). This can be a great motivator for learning.
Here are just a few examples of teaching literacy skills in other content areas. Each activity includes multiple references (in parentheses) below to specific ASOLs.
Students will create a poll question (WRITING- WP 3a). Examples include favorite food, favorite subject, and birthIndividuals may read/ask (READING-RW 4b) the question to peers and tally the responses (MATH-PS 1). Once the tallies are counted (MATH-NS 2a), students can determine which answers received the most/least number of votes (MATH-NS 1).
Students will interact with a number of concrete items. Ask students to identify which senses are used to experience each item (SCIENCE-SI 2a). Next, ask students to describe each item in terms of size, shape, color, texture, etc. (SCIENCE-M 1). Each student should select one of the items and write a brief description (WRITING- WP 3c). For a greater challenge, ask students to write a paragraph comparing/contrasting the properties of two or more items. (WRITING- WP 3b; SCIENCE-SI 3a).
3. SOCIAL STUDIES
As a class, read and discuss an autobiography (READING-RC 6c). Ask students to compare their lives to that of the subject of the autobiography (READING-RC 2c). Each student should then write, in sentence form, 3-5 important events from his/her life (WRITING- WP 3b). Cut the sentences into strips and ask the student to write the date associated with each event. Have students create a personal timeline by placing the events in order on a line. The line can be on a piece of paper, posterboard, chalkboard, or even on the floor. Ask each student to share his/her timeline with the class (SOCIAL SCIENCE- H2)
For more information on literacy instruction, and many other ASOL-related topics, check out our new online video resource, Living with the ASOLs!! Here you can instantly view a collection of videos that address various topics such as ASOL-specific lessons, tips from other teachers, or take a tour of a favorite Web site. You can find all of this great information at: http://ttac.odu.edu/spp/cognitive_disabilities.php.
Willis, J. (2011). Writing and the brain: Neuroscience shows the pathways to learning. National Writing Project. Retrieved from http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/3555
Ulusoy, M., & Dedeoglu, H. (2011). Content area reading and writing: Practices and beliefs. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36(4), 1-17.
Stephens, E. C., & Brown, J. E. (2000). A handbook of content literacy strategies: 75 practical reading and writing ideas. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon.