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Integrating Literacy Skills Across Content Areas

by Sandra L. Love, Ed.D.


Literacy is essential as it makes education possible. Often the question is posed: Who should teach literacy skills? The answer is teaching literacy skills is the responsibility of all teachers, not just reserved for English Language Arts teachers.

Literacy skills must be addressed across the curriculum to help all students achieve success. Teachers of math, science, social studies, and the fine arts should provide instruction that supports students as they comprehend contentspecific print and non-print texts. Literacy skills (e.g., reading, writing, listening/speaking, viewing, and presenting) enable students to acquire and retain valuable content knowledge as well as use the information in various learning experiences.

It is important for teachers to recognize that learning is reinforced when they integrate literacy skills instruction within lessons, practice, and assessment. Using these skills in meaningful and relevant ways promotes overall language proficiency, regardless of the content area. All students should be provided the opportunity to think critically as they read, write, speak, listen, view, and present. Teachers must incorporate a variety of strategies that guide students to question, summarize, predict, organize, visualize, synthesize, and monitor written texts and oral information.

Strategies that have proven purposeful for literacy instruction include close reading, think-pair-share, graphic organizers, quick writes, think alouds, and Socratic dialogue. Using these strategies to weave literacy skills into instruction engage students in talking about, reading about, thinking about, and writing about the content. When students apply literacy skills in the context of all subject areas, comprehension and communication increase. Teaching students the essential skills for literacy must not be limited to the language arts classroom. Students deserve multiple and varied opportunities to learn and practice reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and presenting as they participate in all classroom settings throughout the school day. When all content area teachers share the accountability for the instruction and application of these essential skills, a seamless approach is observed – providing a strong foundation of learning and literacy for all students.

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