• “Fourth grade slump”
“One of the reasons for the gap between
reading instruction in elementary grades and
the demands of secondary classrooms is the
expectation that once students have learned to
read simple text, they will independently
develop more sophisticated comprehension
strategies based on their previous experiences
with easier text. However, it does not always
happen this way.”(Adams and Bodrova, p2)
• Real World Experiences
In Module 2 we discussed the reading and
writing we do daily. Think about this…we read
and write throughout the day for a purpose: to
write a list, a reminder, a message, an email.
We read directions, the news, and so on.
Children need to learn to read this way in order
to be life long readers. Hoyt shares with us that
“86 percent of the texts read by adults are
informational.” (pg 2)
• Meaningful For Children
Children are naturally curious. They are
naturally scientists and geographers. Bringing
the world into our classroom only makes sense.
Children want to read and write about these
real world, meaningful experiences.
• The TEST!
Hoyt shares on pg 3 of your reading that
anywhere from 50 to 85 percent of standardized
tests across the country are informational texts
to be read.
How do teachers integrate content into literacy
As mentioned in previous modules, often teachers
teach thematically in order to have time for
science and social studies instruction. They
continue to read and write but use a science OR
social studies topic such as space, plant life,
American history, and so on.
Even as a departmentalized teacher (only teaching
one subject…maybe science), one can integrate
literacy into the instruction. THINK ABOUT IT,
the children have to read from the textbook.
Often, they are writing about what they read.
We can integrate what we have learned about
vocabulary instruction, comprehension
instruction and writing instruction into our
instruction of science. Even if we are required
to use the science textbook and we only teach
science, children can be taught how to read this
expository, nonfiction text! Use those strategies
such as webbing, writing, discussing about the
science topic being studied.
grade teacher asks her students to web the
questions they have about a topic of study: US
landmarks (Statue of Liberty, Liberty Bell, White
Last semester you learned that reading instruction should include
You also learned that writing instruction should include instruction
In workshop approaches (reading and writing workshop) children can be guided on how to use
the Big 5 of Reading and 6 Traits of Writing effectively WHILE learning to read fiction and
In the reading that you did for this module, Ms. Bunyi shares with teachers how she manages this
with a “blended approach”, integrating reading and writing instruction. The benefit here
is children are doing real reading and real writing (integrating fiction and
nonfiction) and learning how as they read!
In Workshop Approaches children engage in:
• a whole class minilesson (this is where the teacher models and explicitely teaches!)
• a work time where they actually get to read and write fiction AND nonfiction texts. At this
time, the teacher conferences with one child (there is a video of this included in this module)
or meets with a small group (guided practice) OR the children work independently
• and share time: Debbie Miller (2002) explains this as, “….a time for children to share their
learning…some days it’s also a forum for exchanging ideas and discussing issues, making
connections from our reading lives to the world, and constructing meaning for ourselves and
each other, one idea at a time.”
Mrs. Nash’s second graders gather on the floor for their morning routine.
They have checked into the classroom, choosing their lunch choice and
putting up their things. They have also picked a book from a book tub
that is lined around the classroom. These tubs are labeled with the genre
of the book so that the child will know where it goes when he is finished.
After a few minutes, Mrs. Nash signals for their attention and begins
reading the book, Great Fuzz Frenzy by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens
Crummel. The children laugh, talk, predict and make connections as Mrs.
Nash guides their comprehension by questioning. The teacher then pulls
out the big book, Extreme Sports and shares with the children that she
wants to talk about a genre they haven’t discussed much thus far. They
look at the cover, table of contents and discuss why the author has
included this for them. Mrs. Nash shares with the children something she
has noticed that they need. She discusses that nonfiction books are
unique because they do not have to be read cover by cover. They choose
chapters to read based on the titles and use the page numbers to skip to
this section of this book. To conclude the minilesson, the teacher
encourages the children to read from the nonfiction tub. She shares some
of the titles of informational book placed in there and reminds them that
when they read these books, they do not have to be read cover by cover.
The children quickly spread out across the room, reading,
responding, writing, creating projects and talking about their work. Some
children are creating a poster to recommend a book that was read in Guided
Reading to the rest of the class. Some children publish (using the computer) a
story that has been edited with their teacher. Other children are lying on bean
bags and reading. And others independently complete a graphic organizer
summarizing a story that has been read. This is worktime in Mrs. Nash’s class. As
the children manage their own learning and complete their assigned tasks, Mrs.
Nash gathers a small group for a reading group (Guided Reading). After
concluding this reading group, she moves around the classroom with a clipboard.
She stops and talks with children about what they are reading or writing using
prompts like, “What is your plan today?” “What will you do next?” “What else are
you thinking?” “How can you solve this problem?” etc. This process continues for
about one hour.
At the end of Workshop, Mrs. Nash turns on a popular song, which signals transition
and clean up. The children begin to clean up their work. Some children lie
projects on the easel to be looked over by the teacher. The class gathers together
on the floor and the teacher spends a few minutes talking with the children and
asking questions. “Who read a nonfiction book today?” Several children raise
their hands, share the title of the book that was read and share what they learned
from reading a particular section or chapter. Again, Mrs. Nash reminds the
children that nonfiction texts are unique because the reader does not have to read
the entire text. The sharing time concludes with a few children sharing their
projects and a discussion occurs about what will be added to the project in order
to complete it. This is share time.
The chapter you read from Hoyt, shares that in order to improve
reading comprehension with informational texts there are some
key points for instruction (pg 9). These key points are all rationales
for a workshop approach to teaching literacy!
•Provide explicit instruction in comprehension strategies. Here she talks about that
gradual release of responsibility that was discussed in Module 12. This can be done in a
reading workshop format. Mrs. Nash did this as she modeled in her minilesson,
conferenced individually with students, and taught a small group reading lesson.
•Increase the amount of time students spend actually reading and writing. The workshop
approach helps teachers organize time efficiently by helping them get it all in. Mrs. Nash
was able to give children ninety minutes of real reading and writing time. The children
chose the texts they read and the topics they wrote.
•Ensure that the learning environment is rich in concept development. Think about
schema! Think about the importance of helping children make connections with new
learning. Appreciate that children learn from talk. Children in the previous example
talked and made connections during the minilesson, work time and share time.
•Give time to allow for discussions about text.
•Look closely at your learners..that assessment module is important!
Assessment tells us what our learners know and need next. Mrs. Nash used what she had
observed from her learners (trouble with nonfiction) to guide her minilesson.
In this second grade classroom, the workshop approach works because much time was
spent teaching the routines and expectations for this time. The teacher spent many
days, modeling and guiding the children to ensure they knew how to manage their own
learning productively. This teacher knows her students and what they need next. She
is making informed decisions based on her observations and assessments.
“I like to think I am a Reading/Writing Physician, rather than the
Reading/Writing Pharmacist passing out the prescription.
I was fortunate to hear author Lester Laminack use this analogy once,
and I think it is fitting. Each student is on a
totally individualized plan of action in our room, and
I am in control (and responsible)
for the progress
made this year. I take a little bit of my experience, my heart, and my
knowledge to make these decisions.”
Angela Bunyi, Classroom Teacher
What about technology?
The possibilities of what to use in your classroom in regards to technology are endless.
Integrating technology and content literacy makes sense. “Researchers report
that we are living in a technological revolution.” (McLaughlin, pg 178). In order to
teach children how to become life long readers and writers, we need to
incorporate the reading and writing they will be doing daily. This obviously
How can we use technology in the content areaHow can we use technology in the content area
literacy classroom?literacy classroom?
Throughout this module you have seen many strategies and activities modeled and
demonstrated. Any of these can be done using technology that is available. The
use of technology in the classroom will only increase in the next few years!
To scaffold comprehension, a teacher might use the SmartBoard to create a
KWL chart over the RainForest. This chart can be added to throughout the unit
To scaffold vocabulary, Popplet (app) is used to create graphic organizers that
help students make connections.
To scaffold fluency, Ipads and the app, Chatterpix were used where students
video themselves reading a text using prosody and appropriate speed to share
with their classmates.
To scaffold phonics, a sorting activity was made and shared through Google
Classroom, where students were required to add to a sort words with appropriate
• Content area literacy is primarily about the comprehension and understanding of content related written materials.
• Students of all ages need experiences with concepts as much as possible. Think of ways to make concepts hands-on.
Remember Piaget’s stages of development. If students can touch and feel, the concept will more easily become
concrete for them.
• Students need to be immersed in concepts. Allow them to listen, speak (converse with each other), read, write and
think about what you’re studying.
• Always assess schema and develop concepts from there (i.e. KWL).
• Develop ways to visually represent information in textbook chapters or trade books. Students need to be taught
how to organize and keep track of information.
• Focus on developing vocabulary conceptually. Do fewer words more intensely. Use word maps to help students
develop schema and to generate lots of ideas to connect to the word. Connect grammar lessons to vocabulary by
studying roots, prefixes and suffixes to see how word meanings vary. Teach the use of the dictionary as a resource.
• Use many trade books along with the textbook.
• NEVER STOP READING ALOUD TO KIDS!! Even when departmentalizing you can connect trade books to the content.
• Attempt to do guided reading (small group reading instruction) with all or some (struggling) students as much as
possible. Students need to hear your prompts to develop ideas to know how to monitor their reading and
comprehension. Even if you only get to do this occasionally, the help you provide is more valuable than no help at
all. Use independent or small group center type activities to allow you time to work with small groups.
• Vary the type of reading that is done with students in the content areas. Read to them, read silently, partner read,
and read in small groups.
• Remember that most reading selections on the TAKS are content related, so all teachers in all grades should be
concerned with comprehension skills.
• Integrate when possible. All language arts skills can be integrated and taught directly out of content studies.
• Don’t forget about writing! Children need to see writing modeled and need lots of time for writing: fiction AND
• Writing can be integrated into everything. Think about quick writes and writing to learn, which can be used as an
• COMMIT YOURSELF AS A LIFE-LONG LEARNER!
“…In content area reading, I had little personal
confidence. I didn’t understand how to make the
text more attainable or how to scaffold
vocabulary and deal with content specific words.
The result was predictable. My students did
learn to read…fiction. But, I think back with
sadness on the boys, in particular, who would
hold books on snakes, insects and hot rods
tightly against their chests as they walked back
from our trips to the media center. These were
the books of their dreams…”
(Hoyt, pg. 2)
Adams, S and Bodrova, E. Beginning With The End In Mind: Aligning Elementary Literacy
(Electronic version) retreived June 24, 2009 from www.mcrel.org.
Hoyt, Linda (2002) Make It Real: Strategies for Success with Informational Texts. Portsmouth, NH:
Moss, Barbara (2005) Making a Case and a Place for Effective Content Area Literacy Instruction in
Elementary Grades. The Reading Teacher: 59, 46-55.
Pike, K. and Mumper, J. (2004). Making Nonfiction and Other Informational Texts Come Alive.
Boston, MA: Pearson.
Special Thanks to Terri Nash, 2nd
Grade teacher at Cooper West Elementary.
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