The Truth about LA
The truth is that Language Arts teachers have and continue to be considered the most responsible for a student's literacy journey. The LA teacher has learned more literacy techniques than the content teacher and may be asked to play a leadership role for the grade level or team of teachers hoping to enhance their student's reading capacities in all areas. While some of this role is now being acknowledged as critical in the content areas, the LA teacher will continue to be a resource for effective comprehension strategies until the content area teachers have been successfully trained.
The benefit of Language Arts is the ability to include a vast array of reading materials from multiple genres, subject areas, and sources. However, this could also be problematic. With the concept of disciplinary literacy evolving how teachers view sources, we must not shy away from content sources, believing we don't have all the tools to teach them. Instead, we should draw upon the content area teachers' knowledge of how to extract more from the article. Instead of simply using general reading comprehension strategies, we must begin to utilize the different content area strategies for comprehension as well. Repetition of the disciplinary literacy strategy in the content area and our classes will be beneficial for all of our students.
General reading comprehension strategies include focusing on the structure in order to understand the relationships between objects and metacognition (whether or not the reader is understanding what they have read: questioning, predicting, visualizing, clarifying, drawing conclusions, and summarizing). Teachers have quite a few tricks up their sleeves, however, the book This is Discipline Literacy by ReLeah Cossett Lent, offers quite a few new strategies to try.
Current Event Short Takes
Selecting a current event relevant to your unit of study can increase relevance and student engagement with the topic. For instance, a newspaper article discussing the controversy behind the publishing of Harper Lee's second book may engage students during a unit of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Read alouds provide a great opportunity for students to hear expert reading and thinking. Use these as a shared experience and not an assignment. Model how to think about the reading.
Infographic reading is a necessary tool in economic, scientific, and critical literacy. While the other subject areas may focus more on this skill, pairing an infographic, graph, chart, political cartoon, photograph, or illustration with your main text allows for a multimodal experience and the chance for students to learn more effectively. "Visual literacy is important because we know that nonlinguistic representations of a concept, especially when paired with print, can increase students' ability to learn" (ReLeah Lent, 2016).
Reading blogs allows for students to critically analyze an author's opinion, rate credibility and impartiality, and respond in a persuasive way. Contrasting issues can be studied quickly by comparing two opposing viewpoints.
Collaborative Reading of Challenging Texts
Challenging texts can be reread multiple times as a close read in order to obtain different information each time. When text is challenging, it is beneficial to have students think through the reading process together. Combined background and reading skills aid in comprehension of challenging text, provided a context was created ahead of time.
Lent, ReLeah Cossett. (2016). This is discipline literacy. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Publishers.