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Teaching Disciplinary Literacy to Adolescents: Rethinking Content Area Literacy

Teaching Disciplinary Literacy to Adolescents: Rethinking Content Area Literacy,TIMOTHY SHANAHAN,Cynthia Shanahan

Teaching Disciplinary Literacy to Adolescents: Rethinking Content Area Literacy   (Citations: 36)
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In this article, Timothy and Cynthia Shanahan argue that "disciplinary literacy" — advanced literacy instruction embedded within content-area classes such as math, sci- ence, and social studies — should be a focus of middle and secondary school settings. Moving beyond the oft-cited "every teacher a teacher of reading" philosophy that has historically frustrated secondary content-area teachers, the Shanahans present data collected during the first two years of a study on disciplinary literacy that reveal how content experts and secondary content teachers read disciplinary texts, make use of comprehension strategies, and subsequently teach those strategies to adolescent read- ers. Preliminary findings suggest that experts from math, chemistry, and history read their respective texts quite differently; consequently, both the content-area experts and secondary teachers in this study recommend different comprehension strategies for work with adolescents. This study not only has implications for which comprehen- sion strategies might best fit particular disciplinary reading tasks, but also suggests how students may be best prepared for the reading, writing, and thinking required by advanced disciplinary coursework. Reading is commonly viewed as a basic set of skills, widely adaptable and appli- cable to all kinds of texts and reading situations. Accordingly, in the 1990s, most states took on the challenge of improving young children's reading skills, assuming that once the basics of literacy were accomplished, students would be well equipped for literacy-related tasks later in life (Blair, 1999). The idea that basic reading skills automatically evolve into more advanced reading skills, and that these basic skills are highly generalizable and adaptable, is partially correct: The basic perceptual and decoding skills that are connected with early
Published in 2008.
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