Strategies for Teaching Reading & Writing Across Content Areas

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  • 0:04 Content Area Literacy
  • 0:44 The PAR Method
  • 2:11 The KWL Method
  • 3:07 The Anticipation Guide
  • 3:52 The GIST Method
  • 4:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Students are required to read and write in most subject areas. How can teachers support this? This lesson discusses strategies that promote writing and reading comprehension in all content areas.

Content Area Literacy

Students are taught strategies for reading and writing primarily in their language arts classrooms. There, teachers can focus on teaching specific skills to build strong readers and writers. But reading and writing aren't just applied in language arts classrooms. Students need to be able to use these skills in content area classes, such as science and social studies. They need to be able to comprehend, or understand, what they read, and they need to be able to write about it in a number of ways.

How can teachers scaffold literacy topics when teaching content areas? Rick just attended a day-long conference on this topic and is walking away with a tool bag full of fresh ideas. Let's see what he learned.

The PAR Method

Rick found a great way to help his students understand and write about what they learn in his science class. The PAR Method, or 'prepare, assist, reflect,' is a three-step model that helps students before, during, and after reading. Typically used as a three-column chart, students are guided to use strategies to help them understand.

Before reading, Rick can ask his students to get their brains ready to read by filling out the prepare section of the chart. He can offer them leading questions, such as:

  • What do you think you will learn today?
  • What information do you already know about this topic?
  • What questions do you have?
  • Are you making any connections with this topic?

In the prepare time, students are asked to preview text by skimming, looking carefully at charts, graphs, or other text tools, and reading title headings. Rick will lead them towards activating prior knowledge and opening their brains for new learning.

The second area, assist, is used to help students make sense of what they read. Rick will plug in strategies for comprehension, like making mental images, questioning, or inferring. He will have students take notes in this section and record important questions or comments.

After reading, students will respond to what they read by writing and reflecting. In this section, Rick will have students write what they learned, how it relates to prior learning, and what makes sense to them. He may allow them to reflect with a partner or write a summary or opinion piece. He can also have students check predictions or get questions answered.

The KWL Method

Another graphic organizer idea Rick found is the KWL chart, which stands for 'knowledge, wonder, and learn.' Using this method, students will apply a before and after reading method. The 'K' stands for knowledge; to fill this section out, students write what they know about a topic. For example, before teaching students about the solar system, Rick can ask his students to brainstorm anything they already know. The class can then create a KWL chart as a group, writing their prior knowledge about space.

Next, students are ready to 'W', or wonder. This section houses what students wonder or want to know about a topic, like space. This is a great place for questioning, such as 'Why does the moon change size and shape?' Finally, after reading, Rick will lead his students to the comprehension of the material by filling out the 'L,' or learn, section. He'll ask students to write key ideas about what they now know in relation to what they already knew or what they wondered.

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