Literacy: There's No Quick Fix!

by Jenna Brooks

Multiple Literacy Strategies Provided by All Content Area Teachers

Common Core and Essential Standards have created one common element between all contents: literacy. Implementing disciplinary literacy is essential for all teachers, and it would be wise for all districts to offer more professional development to ensure growth in best practices to support adolescent literacy. As an English Language Arts teacher, I am forced to implement reading strategies; however I know that my students cannot become literately successful 21st century learners without the participation of all teachers.

Disciplinary literacy (DL) is currently a hot topic among educators, researchers, and literacy specialists. The future of our nation depends on our students’ success as productive citizens and critical thinkers. Literacy develops early and becomes more significant as students continue to mature. There is a national effort for educators to help students overcome literacy challenges within all fields of study. Disciplinary literacy requires: content knowledge, experiences, and skills to merge with the ability to read, write, listen, speak, think critically, and perform with meaning.

Preparing students for the real-world means teaching them to think critically and adapt to a multitude of text and situations. The idea of focusing on reading in the content areas is not new, but the focus has shifted in order to help prepare adolescent readers with college and career-readiness skills.

As a teacher I can implement teaching tools in my instruction in order to develop good readers that use strategies to extend their knowledge. Twenty-first century learning requires students to collaborate in order to gain real-world experiences. My researched has prompted me to include structures to support literacy development in my classroom, such as: Graphic Organizers, Think-Pair-Share, Jigsaw, and Reciprocal Teaching. Also, as I implement these tools in my classroom, I must be conscience about reflecting on my teaching and lesson planning in order to evaluate the effectiveness of these tools. By encouraging my team to implement these strategies in their content, I am creating an environment of habit for our students as we collaborate to embed literacy in all contexts. These researched-based strategies proved students the opportunity to use academic language and participate in peer learning (Fisher and Frey, 2012).

Activating prior knowledge is a key factor to assist in building a student understanding. Vocabulary, from any content area, is not effective when taught through isolation. In the past, I have been guilty of teaching vocabulary this way. However, I am now aware of meaningful strategies to expand my students’ vocabulary (Fisher and Frey, 2012).

My Literacy Beliefs: Advocating for Adolescent Readers!

  • Adolescent literacy is just as important as teaching beginning students how to read
  • Good instruction, ample time, and a variety of texts are necessary
  • Content area teachers must provide instruction using multiple literacy strategies
  • Differentiation is required to meet a readers specific needs
  • Middle and high school students suffer when teachers falsely assume they are literate
  • All educators, regardless of the content they teach, must take responsibility when it comes to literacy
  • Literacy must be embedded in ALL content areas so it will become an atmosphere of habit
  • Developing and extending comprehension requires collaborative effort from all content area teachers.
  • Along with Reading/ELA teachers, content area teachers must implement activities to model what good readers do

The Root of My Current Literacy Beliefs

My literacy beliefs stem from many areas: experience, colleagues, professors, peers, graduate courses, and etc. However, as a sixth grade English Language Arts teacher, I naturally developed in interest in addressing the needs of the many adolescent readers I teach yearly. The authors of Improving Adolescent Literacy: Content Area Strategies at Work have impacted my thinking as a teacher and the goal I have for other professional educators. It is my hope that literacy will truly become intertwined across the curriculum so that our students will be prepared for their literate future.

This book is designed to helps teachers assist their students with Reading in the Content areas, with a particular focus on middle and high school students. The book offers the support that teachers need in order to improve student success in literacy across the curriculum. Classroom-proven strategies are provided from both the authors' and their colleagues' experience in middle school and secondary classrooms (Fisher & Frey, 2012).

My Literacy Belief System by Jenna Brooks, READ 6430, East Carolina University


Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2012). Improving adolescent literacy: Content area strategies at work. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.