Expression & Integration of Literacy in the Classroom

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  • 0:04 What Is Literacy?
  • 0:46 Speaking
  • 1:51 Listening
  • 2:41 Reading
  • 3:29 Writing
  • 4:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Literacy does not simply mean learning how to read independently. This lesson will introduce you to a broader conception of literacy and give you ideas for integrating literacy into your classroom.

What Is Literacy?

Often, when we think of literacy, we think of just learning how to read and write independently. Yet literacy actually describes a habit of mind that involves engaging deeply with text and incorporating spoken and written language into our daily lives. In school, we also have the opportunity to teach critical literacy, which is thinking analytically about the things we read and write. Readers can use this thought process to question former assumptions.

When integrating literacy and its expression into our classrooms, it can be helpful to think in terms of four major categories: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. This lesson gives you some ideas for working in each of these domains in your classroom.


Spoken language is an important part of literacy. When students can express themselves clearly, they present as more literate individuals. By speaking about things they've read, students are able to clarify areas of confusion and express their own points of view to others. The following are some ideas for incorporating speaking into your classroom.

Tell a Story

Start a routine where, a few mornings a week, you choose a child to tell a story from his or her life. The story should have a beginning, middle, and end; should be true; and should give other students something to think about. After the student tells his or her story, invite other students to ask questions or share comments. This practice will get children into a habit of literate discourse, or intellectual and thoughtful conversation around story.

Point of View

After reading a story or book out loud to your class, ask them to get into partnerships and practice retelling the same story from a different character's point of view. Partners can help one another think about how that character would have seen things, and students will have a chance to practice taking perspectives while developing their oral language.


As teachers, we ask students to listen all the time, but we do not always think of this as an expression of literacy. Students who can comprehend and interpret what they hear are better prepared to comprehend and interpret what they read. These are some strategies you can use to make the most of your students' listening skills as they relate to literacy development.

Note Taking

Teach your students to listen to the things you say and jot down the most important ideas to remember. This is great practice for discerning the main idea, and it prepares them to take notes on longer lectures as they grow older.


It can be great practice for students to listen to audiobooks read by speakers with different intonations, accents, and perspectives. Consider having your students listen to excerpts from audio books first thing in the morning or right after lunch and recess, as this can also be a great way to settle down.

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