Are all teachers responsible for literacy?

Thanks for checking out Florida School Speak, the Florida Department of Education’s new blog for teachers. As a teacher myself, I am looking forward to sharing updates and talking with you about numerous education topics. To start our conversation – see below for very first teacher topic!

Reading: In 2007, 33 percent of fourth-graders and 26 percent of eighth-graders performed below the Basic level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment, which means they lacked the skills to access grade level text, based on the National Center for Education Statistics, 2007.  The Department has coordinated efforts to improve the reading performance of students in grades four through 12, who spend the majority of their days in content-area classes. As students advance in school, researchers have suggested reading instruction should become part of all subject area curriculums.  When you think about it, all content-area instruction (English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies) utilize literary or informational text in some manner, so students must comprehend specific texts that are unique in linguistics and cognitive features that are not necessarily shared across disciplines.  On the other hand, as teachers, we often feel that there is not enough time to cover all of our benchmarks in a single school year.  In elementary school we say that students are learning to read, in middle school they are reading to learn, and in high school they are reading for life.  My question to you is – How can all teachers work to provide opportunities for students to think through text as they read to build comprehension?

Let me know your thoughts!



8 thoughts on “Are all teachers responsible for literacy?

  1. Amy R. Mitchella says:

    Subject area teachers SHOULD include instruction (in reading skills) that is specific to their content area. As a math teacher, I give extra time to math terminology, even going so far as to give vocabulary quizzes. Each year I am surprised by the number of middle and high school students who don’t know the meaning of the terms sum, difference, product, and quotient. And with increasing standards for graduation, all students should be albe to “talk” algebra and geometry!

    • flschoolspeak says:

      Thank you so much for posting your response. You are absolutely correct when you state that subject areas have their own jargon. Teachers should consider allowing students time to practice their curriculum vocabulary through a variety of linguistic activities. Many teachers are already teaching “reading” subject area skills through graphic organizers and scaffolded lessons. Thank you again for your comments, stay tuned for more great ideas!

    • Athlean Clarke says:

      Students also come to the fourth grade not knowing how to multiply 2 digit numbers or to add and subtract with regrouping so it is not surprising that when they get to moddle and high schools they do not understand the definitions of the terms of the lessons they are studying or have studied!

  2. Vanessa Brasino says:

    I teach British Literature, so on a daily basis I work with my students to think through the text. My students often times think that the British Literature is written in a foreign language, so my colleagues and I work together to create lessons that are visual–students can “see” what the text is about through the use of pictures, music videos, and artwork. We do a lot of work accessing prior knowledge so our students have a solid foundation before diving into the literature.

    Any content area teacher can use these strategies to help students comprehend difficult text. Creating these types of lessons takes time and thoughtful planning, so sometimes it slows down the ability to make it through all of the benchmarks; however, I would rather my students comprehend a piece of literature we are studying and feel a sense of accomplishment because they can understand what they read than discourage them by trying to rush through to cover all of the benchmarks. Sometimes a “less is more approach” can create a richer learning experience.

  3. Emma Araya says:

    Reteaching in Math and Science allows us to focus in on the weaker benchmarks. Each time I analyze my students’ work the problem shows up in the same place: The students don’t understand the questions they’ve read. The students overlooked a key term. The students didn’t self-monitor.
    Reading is the foundation for all that we do. How can we push deeper into more complex content area benchmarks without taking time to address the reading deficiencies that are evident? It’s been said to me that even though I consider myself a 5th grade teacher, I am first and foremost a teacher. So I say, even though you consider yourself a math teacher, or a science teacher, first and foremost you must be a reading teacher.

    • flschoolspeak says:

      You are absolutely right; we should always remember that we teach children, not subjects. We need to reach children where they are, and reteaching is a necessary part of that philosophy. Thanks so much for the comment!

  4. YES! all educator’s provide Do provide literacy for children. Art, Music and PE infuse vocabulary associated with current events, daily life, modern family, traditional style, sports, games, dance and social teambuilding and MORE.
    Thanks for allowing me to comment.

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