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Looking through a Disciplinary Lens

magnifying glass with gearsIn the simplest of terms, the difference between teaching “content area literacy” and teaching “disciplinary literacy” has to do with teaching reading using content area instructional materials versus teaching the particular skills and activities required for literacy in the field. If you’re in a school that’s ramping up attention to disciplinary literacy, consider sharing these questions from Doing and Making Authentic Literacies as a discussion/research guide for what this will really mean for the subjects you teach.:

  1. What technical language do adult practitioners use in a discipline or field?
  2. What big questions do leaders and learners ask in the discipline or field?
  3. What processes are used for making new knowledge or for sharing advances in the discipline or field?
  4. Where is the current “edge” of knowledge making in the discipline or field?
  5. What are the habits of mind we would see in a highly skilled practitioner of the discipline or field?

In the book, authors Linda Denstaedt, Laura Jane Roop, and Stephen Best explain:

“For work in classrooms to be truly authentic, students must engage in the actual, rigorous practices of thinking, reading, talking, and creating that exist in every disciplinary subject and are applied in work and citizenship. These practices are foundational, but they really can’t be separated from their purposeful uses. What if we were to revise classroom emphases so that young people could see why they were learning chemistry or history and how they could actively apply their learning, stepping into the space as apprentices in a grown-up world?”