Literacy is an essential skill for all students. As such, the development of literacy skills needs to be a priority in every classroom.
In the book Turning High-Poverty Schools Into High-Performing Schools authors William Parrett and Kathleen Budge identify literacy development as one of the effective practices for developing a pedagogy of possibility (p. 143). They suggest that teachers prioritize literacy and implement the following:
- Preteach vocabulary: Preview each piece of text and identify key vocabulary. Expose students to the vocabulary prior to entering the text, so that students have some level of familiarity prior to reading.
- Engage in word study: Word study involves phonics, spelling, recognition, and vocabulary. Help students look for patterns in written and spoken language, so that they become more comfortable taking on text material.
- Access and build on prior knowledge: Students bring a variety of experiences in reading and literature. Meet them where they currently are and use that as a foundation for further learning.
- Embrace the reading and writing connection: It has long been considered common knowledge in educational pedagogy that reading and writing are positively correlated. Have students read a passage and respond in some way (reflection, summary, further questions, etc.) in writing. Such a practice strengthens student skills in both areas.
- Teach, model, and practice academic discourse: Lead discussions about what is being read. Ask questions. Have students lead discussions about what they are learning by reading and what more they would like to know. Make dialog part of the reading routine.
- Focus on meaning making: Words on a page need to be understood, interpreted in present and greater contexts, and assimilated. Have students demonstrate meaning through discussion and responsive writing.
- Integrate literacy across the curriculum: It is important that students develop reading, writing, and discourse skills across all content areas.
As you prepare for next week, think of ways that you can increase literacy development in your students and in your classrooms. Be creative. You and your students will be glad you did!