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INBOX Ideas - Previous Revision

Literacy as a Shared Responsibility

In a report released by the National Center for Literacy Education entitled Remodeling Literacy Learning: Making Room for What Works, one of the key findings was that educators at every level and in every subject area embrace the responsibility for improving student literacy.

The Common Core State Standards Grade 6-12 Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects also makes explicit the connections between literacy and the disciplines. Learn ways to help students successfully use literacy skills in order to learn the complex content of curriculum disciplines with these resources from NCTE,, and NCLE.

Sarah Brown Wessling addresses text complexity in her Teaching Channel video, "Let’s Chat Core: Simplifying Text Complexity.”Among other things, she reminds us that this “text complexity business isn’t just for English Language Arts teachers, it’s for all of us who put primary texts in front of our students, knowing that the more they delve into the language of our disciplines, the more equipped they will be to think.”

In Reading for Learning: Using Discipline-Based Texts to Build Content Knowledge, author Heather Lattimer addresses how content and literacy go hand-in-hand to support subject area learning. In the chapter “Developing Academic Vocabulary,” Lattimer, as a former mathematics and history teacher, is able to demonstrate specific instructional strategies for supporting academic vocabulary using examples from both science and history classrooms.

In the Voices from the Middle article “'Why Are There So Many Words in Math?’ Planning for Content-Area Vocabulary Instruction” the authors offer a tool to help content area teachers think through the issues around content vocabulary as part of the lesson planning process.

With an emphasis on the need for students to be able to not only read complex texts but create content-specific, evidence-based arguments, author Eileen Murphy Buckley demonstrates how to teach these skills using poetry in her book 360 Degrees of Text: Using Poetry to Teach Close Reading and Powerful Writing. Buckley reminds us that poetry can easily be found on nearly every subject, and that it also provides the opportunity to teach analysis in a text that can be explored within one class setting. To learn more, read the chapter "Representing Close Readings in Academic Writing."

Looking for more great instructional strategies to share with colleagues? In this Strategy Guide Series from, you'll get information and ideas about teaching reading in the different content areas.

Literacy in Learning ExchangeSometimes knowing you are not alone in your efforts is enough. On the Literacy in Learning Exchange, look in on two groups that have made clear commitments to literacy as a shared responsibility. (Free sign-in required. Create yours here.)

  • In the WHS T-BAR Grant group, five history teachers examine the qualities and characteristics of writing in history and the instruction necessary to support students as writers in history.
  • In the Rowland Unified School District Community Mapping & Family Literacy group, you can see an active community of practice made up of parents, teachers, community members, administrators, and other education professionals. This group has come together to map the literacy practices, assets, and resources in the community and homes of the students they serve in order to improve classroom practices and better support students' learning.



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NCTE - The National Council of Teachers Of English

A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts