Instruction & Curriculum

How to Integrate Literacy into the Non-ELA Classroom

If there is one message that I get when I examine the Common Core standards for reading and writing, it’s this: Share the load. I think that English teachers have often shouldered the burden of literacy.  We have felt that it is simply our job to teach students to write and to read and to analyze challenging texts.  But I also think that this martyrdom needs to end.  The standards are clearly for history/social sciences, science, and technical subjects—not just ELA.  English teachers aren’t responsible for all of it, even if we think we can get it done alone.
I could be cynical and believe that biology or American history teachers would rather sit back and give students multiple choice quizzes and powerpoint presentations while they let their colleagues down the hall read through stacks of essays.  Or, I could be more hopeful and believe that those who have not spent years teaching ELA are just a little nervous.  They’d like to do their part to teach literacy—to integrate more reading and writing into their classrooms—but they need a little guidance, or at least a few pointers.
And if I choose to believe this, then I do think it is at least partially our responsibility as teachers of ELA to help them out.
My suggestion for a good first step to integrating literacy into the non ELA classroom is to assign outside reading of high-interest texts.  Books like The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story by Richard Preston or Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell are good reads, and could easily be assigned for independent reading.  If a book is too much to take on, an essay from a current magazine or a chapter from a good book would also be good practice for reading non fiction, and could make for some great discussions or research projects.
Want to have a few peaceful class periods?  Spend class time silently reading or reading out loud to your students.

Intresting essay samples and examples:

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