Teachers enactment of content area literacy in strategies in secondary science and math classes

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  • 1. FEATURE ARTICLEJournal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 56(2) October 2012 doi:10.1002/JAAL.00116 © 2012 International Reading Association (pp. 151–161)151Teachers’ Enactment of ContentLiteracy Strategies in SecondaryScience and Mathematics ClassesAnne E. Adams & Jerine PeggThis study highlights the importance of attending to the various waysthat teachers enact content literacy strategies and the influences ofgoals, previous practices, and local contexts on their enactment.The incorporation of literacy strategies intocontent area instruction has been proposedas an effective way of improving studentcontent area learning (Draper, 2002; Yore & Treagust,2006). Teachers have been encouraged to incorporatesuch strategies into content area teaching, and manystates require a content area literacy course for teachercertification; however, literacy strategies are seldom usedin secondary content courses (Fisher & Ivey, 2005).Previous studies of teachers’ content literacy practiceshave primarily examined whether or not teachers usespecific content literacy strategies and factors that affectthe extent of classroom implementation (Bean, 1997;Cantrell & Callaway, 2008). However, little is understoodabout how teachers actually shape and use particularliteracy strategies.To understand thenature of teachers’ enact-ment of content literacystrategies, we observedclassroom lessons ofsecondary teachersinvolved in professionaldevelopment focusedon integrating science/mathematics and literacy practices. We found thatalthough all teachers were using the specific contentliteracy strategies introduced in the workshops, thenature of their enactment of these strategies varied inways that influenced learning outcomes. It is importantto better understand these variations to become awareof the implications of the instructional choices madewhen enacting literacy strategies in particular ways.Our purpose in this article is to share our framework forcharacterizing these differences in enactment, provideexamples of these variations, and discuss implicationsof enacting literacy strategies in these different ways.Content Area LiteracyContent area literacy has a long history in education,although purposes, perspectives, and approaches havechanged over time. Historic shifts in content arealiteracy have occurred along two dimensions. Onedimension relates to shifting understandings regardingstudent learning, and the other dimension involves therelationship between content and literacy. Although wedescribe these shifts generally, they have not occurreduniformly across all areas of the field. Contentliteracy practices based on diverse perspectives canstill be found in current research and practice.Anne E. Adams is an assistant professorat the University of Idaho, Moscow, USA;e-mail aeadams@uidaho.edu.Jerine Pegg is an assistant professorat the University of Alberta, Edmonton,Canada; e-mail jerine.pegg@ualberta.ca.Authors (left to right)JAAL_116.indd 151JAAL_116.indd 151 10/13/2012 11:10:57 AM10/13/2012 11:10:57 AM
  • 2. FEATURE ARTICLE152JOURNALOFADOLESCENT&ADULTLITERACY56(2)OCTOBER2012As theoretical understandings of student learninghave evolved from emphasizing behaviorist andcognitive processing theories to socioconstructivisttheories of learning, perspectives on content literacyhave similarly shifted focus, from developing skillsfor extracting information from text and writingstructured essays to emphasizing engagementwith reading and writing text as individual andsocial constructions (O’Brien, Stewart, & Moje,1995). Current perspectives of content literacysupport the “view that students construct andcoconstruct knowledge through activities suchas discussion, reading, and writing from multipleperspectives” (Fisher & Ivey, 2005, p. 5). From thissocioconstructivist perspective, content literacypractices are less centered on transmission ofknowledge and development of technical reading andwriting skills and more focused on students’ activeengagement in knowledge construction, supportingstudents’ use and development of disciplinarydiscourses and content understandings (Blachowicz,Fisher, Ogle, & Watts-Taffe, 2006; Fisher & Ivey,2005; Holliday, Yore, & Alvermann, 1994; Vaughan,1986).Views of content literacy have also shifted alonga second dimension, from understanding literacy as acollection of general skills that can be applied to anydiscipline, to viewing literacy as an integral part ofcontent learning within the discipline. The view ofcontent literacy as general skills is evident in readingand writing across the curriculum movements and inthe development of content literacy courses that teachgeneric literacy strategies to secondary teachers acrossdisciplines (Fisher & Ivey, 2005; O’Brien et al., 1995).More recent perspectives emphasize that all learningis language based, and therefore attention to literacy isintegral to teaching and learning disciplinary contentand engaging in discipline-based discourse (Draper,2010; Fisher & Ivey, 2005; Moje, 2008).Contemporary perspectives on content literacyindicate the need to consider the nature of discipline-specific discourses (Draper, 2010; Moje, 2008).To learn subjects such as mathematics or science,students “need to be exposed to the use of a domain’sconceptual tools in authentic activity” (Brown,Collins, & Duguid, 1989, p. 34). Science andmathematics disciplines have each developed theirown ways of knowing and generating new knowledge.In science, claims are made and supported byempirical evidence, using scientific arguments. Inmathematics, new knowledge is generated via proofand justification, using laws of mathematics and logic(Draper, 2010). As Draper described, “Because eachdiscipline has distinct ways of engaging in inquiry,marshaling evidence, and expressing findings andideas, each discipline has a unique way of reading,writing, speaking, and acting—in other words, aparticular literacy” (p. 27). Therefore, literacy servesthe learning process by supporting engagement indiscipline-based practices and using those practicesto develop understanding of content concepts of thediscipline (Draper, 2010; Moje, 2008).Many colleges of education require secondarypreservice teachers in all disciplines to take contentliteracy courses (Romine, McKenna, & Robinson,1996). However, content literacy approaches are stillrarely incorporated into secondary school classrooms(Fisher & Ivey, 2005). O’Brien et al. (1995) proposedthat when literacy strategies are used traditionally, toextract information from text, they are seen as timeconsuming, inefficient, and inappropriate; yet whenused to help students socially construct knowledge,these strategies are viewed as radical. Moje (2008) alsosuggested that part of teachers’ resistance to contentliteracy use may arise from the historical emphasis onliteracy rather than on content.To understand why some teachers do not usecontent literacy approaches, previous studies havefocused primarily on the degree to which teachersuse these strategies and factors that influence theiruse (Bean, 1997; Cantrell & Callaway, 2008).Although it is important to understand the factorsthat may affect the extent of strategy use, it is alsoessential to examine the ways in which teachersare implementing (Hall & Hord, 2006). Thoughcontent literacy approaches have been promotedin preservice and inservice courses for decades,few studies have specifically examined the natureof teachers’ incorporation of literacy in secondarycontent classrooms. Studies of secondary teachers’literacy-related practices conducted by Alvermann,O’Brien, and Dillon (1990) and Dillon, O’Brien,Moje, and Stewart (1994) suggest that literacy-relatedpractices may be influenced by the teacher’s purposefor the lesson and philosophies of teaching and theAttention to literacy is integral toteaching and learning disciplinarycontent.JAAL_116.indd 152JAAL_116.indd 152 10/13/2012 11:10:57 AM10/13/2012 11:10:57 AM
  • 3. 153Teachers’EnactmentofContentLiteracyStrategiesinSecondaryScienceandMathematicsClassesdiscipline. Our study extends this work by examiningand characterizing the nature of teachers’ enactmentof specific content literacy strategies.The StudyThis qualitative inquiry examined the nature of 26science and mathematics teachers’ enactment ofcontent literacy strategies over two years. The teacherswere participants in professional development focusedon developing integrated science/mathematicsand literacy practices. Participating teachers wererecruited from high-need districts, taught grades 6through 12, and participated in the project for one ortwo years. Seven teachers taught science, 12 taughtmathematics, and seven taught both subjects.Each year project teachers participated in aweeklong summer workshop, follow-on workshops,classroom visits by project staff, and an onlinediscussion forum. Consistent with currentperspectives regarding content literacy and reformapproaches to mathematics and science education,the project took a socioconstructivist approach tolearning (National Research Council, 1996; NationalCouncil of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM], 2000)and a discipline-based approach to literacy strategy use(Draper, 2010; Moje, 2008) in which teachers wereencouraged to use literacy strategies as tools to supportstudent construction of content understandings andengagement in disciplinary discourses.Summer workshops focused on the role oflanguage in learning mathematics and science andtheories of student learning in these disciplines; theyintroduced teachers to literacy-based instructionalstrategies for use with authentic texts of the disciplines,with the purpose of supporting student construction ofcontent meaning. Teachers were actively engaged ininstructional activities that modeled specific strategies(e.g., Frayer Model, Verbal Visual Word Association[VVWA], Anticipation Guides, conceptual writingprompts, science notebooks, concept maps) relatedto vocabulary development, writing, and reading,in the context of mathematics and science. Oraldiscussion was presented as an important componentof instruction that does not stand alone, but rather isembedded in these other strategies.The specific strategies introduced during theworkshops were selected based on their appropriatenessfor use in science and mathematics, ability to supportstudent understanding of disciplinary concepts, andengagement of students in disciplinary discoursesand practices. For example, Anticipation Guides wereselected because they support students in interactingwith text to understand key concepts, examine theevidentiary basis for disciplinary ideas, and engage indisciplinary discourses involving argumentation andjustification.Teachers were provided time and support todevelop classroom lessons for the next school year andencouraged to adapt the strategies to their classroomcontexts. During three follow-on workshops, teachersdiscussed their experiences teaching lessons usingthese strategies and continued planning instructionalactivities with support from project staff and teachers.Project staff provided guidance in identifying keyconcepts, developing related instructional objectives,and selecting or adapting literacy strategies foraccomplishing those objectives. Project staff alsovisited each teacher’s classroom to observe instructionand provide constructive feedback. A project websitecontaining resources and a discussion forum was usedthroughout the year.Data were collected from a variety of sources.Yearly data from each teacher included two to threeclassroom observations, four lesson plans, reflections,student work, and online forum discussions. Projectstaff observed 98 classroom lessons over two academicyears. Observations were conducted by a mathematicsor science educator and another project staff member.Observers recorded detailed field notes about teacheractions and classroom discourse. An observationprotocol (Lawrenz, Huffman, & Appeldoorn, 2002)was used to record types of classroom activities,use and integration of literacy strategies, nature ofcognitive activity, and degree of student engagementin learning activities.Initial classroom observations suggested thatalthough all teachers incorporated new contentliteracy strategies into their instruction, the ways inwhich they enacted these strategies varied. Whenmany of these differences persisted over the firstproject year, we initiated a deeper examination of thenature of teachers’ content literacy strategy use andidentified two contrasting patterns of enactment inscience and mathematics instruction. These werecharacterized as a Rehearsal or Reorganizationpattern of enactment. We also observed a third patternof strategy enactment that we coded as Transitional,which included elements of both Rehearsal andReorganization. Two researchers independentlyexamined observation data, lesson plans, andstudent work and coded each strategy enactment asJAAL_116.indd 153JAAL_116.indd 153 10/13/2012 11:10:57 AM10/13/2012 11:10:57 AM
  • 4. FEATURE ARTICLE154JOURNALOFADOLESCENT&ADULTLITERACY56(2)OCTOBER2012Rehearsal, Reorganization, or Transitional, based onthe teachers’ goals for the lesson, the lesson design,and the teachers’ instructional actions during theteaching of the lesson. Teacher reflections and onlinediscussions were used to triangulate findings.Rehearsal, Reorganization, andTransitional Strategy EnactmentsIn this section we provide a general description ofthese three patterns of strategy enactment; then inthe next section we provide classroom examplesillustrating these patterns. Awareness of thesepatterns can help teachers become conscious of theimplications of decisions regarding content literacystrategy use in their classrooms. This frameworkcan also inform teacher educator awareness of waysthat particular strategies may be enacted and couldbe used in workshops and classroom observationsto highlight relationships between instructionalgoals and specific aspects of content literacy strategyenactment.In the Rehearsal pattern, teachers primarily useliteracy strategies to revisit and rehearse content. Inthese cases, the goal of learning activities is acquisitionof an accepted body of knowledge. Reading strategiesare generally used to engage students in findingand recording information (primarily factual andprocedural) in books and notes. Writing strategiesare used to reinforce ideas, rehearse procedures,and support memorization of material. Vocabularystrategies emphasize memorization of definitions.In the Reorganization pattern, teachers enactliteracy strategies with a goal of supporting studentsin developing deeper conceptual understanding.Strategies are enacted in ways that provideopportunities for students to do their own thinkingor develop more personal meanings and connectionswith the material. Students are encouraged to makeclaims supported by evidence, write definitions basedon personal understanding, and engage in activitiesdesigned to develop meaning and understandingof terms, key concepts, and relationships. Strategiesenacted as Reorganization are typically integratedwith other learning activities throughout a lesson.This pattern is termed Reorganization because itsupports students in reorganizing their conceptualknowledge to include new understandings that growfrom the learning activities.The third pattern of enactment, labeledTransitional, incorporates elements of both Rehearsaland Reorganization. It is evident in cases whereteachers’ goals include deepening student conceptualunderstanding, in line with the Reorganizationpattern; however, this potential is not necessarilyrealized because the strategy is not enacted in away that supports conceptual understanding. Thismay occur, for example, when assignment promptsrequire analysis or synthesis, but students are notgiven sufficient time to engage in the assignmentor opportunities to discuss and reflect on theirunderstandings. As a result, strategy enactment ismore likely to result in student rehearsal of contentmaterial than reorganization. In the Rehearsal andReorganization patterns, teachers’ goals are alignedwith their enactment of literacy strategies. In contrast,in the Transitional pattern of enactment, a mismatchoccurs between teachers’ goals and aspects of thestrategy enactment. The Transitional pattern mayrepresent teachers learning to enact strategies with amore conceptual focus but who haven’t yet adoptedinstructional practices matching this focus.Examples of Rehearsal,Reorganization, and TransitionalStrategy EnactmentsIn this section we provide examples of specific reading,writing, and vocabulary strategies enacted accordingto a Rehearsal, Reorganization, or Transitionalpattern. These examples were chosen becausethey are representative of the data, clearly illustrateeach pattern, and highlight the different ways thatstrategies were enacted. The strategies discussed hereare a sample of the strategies introduced to teachersand subsequently used in their classrooms.VocabularyTeachers’ use of the Frayer Model and Verbal VisualWord Association (VVWA) vocabulary strategiesis described here to illustrate how content literacystrategies may be enacted with the three patterns ofuse. Frayer Models and VVWA are word categorizationactivities that help students develop understanding ofconcepts (Billmeyer & Barton, 1998). With the FrayerModel, students describe concept characteristics,provide examples and nonexamples, and write adefinition for the concept in their own words. VVWAis a similar strategy in which students write their ownconcept definition, provide a visual representationof the term, and describe a personal association orcharacteristic (Figure 1). Discussion after using theseJAAL_116.indd 154JAAL_116.indd 154 10/13/2012 11:10:57 AM10/13/2012 11:10:57 AM
  • 5. 155Teachers’EnactmentofContentLiteracyStrategiesinSecondaryScienceandMathematicsClassestools provides an opportunity to consider additionalideas, connect to previous experiences, and reviseentries and understanding. The Frayer Model andVVWA are often used interchangeably based onteachers’ perception of student needs and the natureof the terms to be learned. We observed teachersusing each strategy in both the Rehearsal and theReorganization patterns.A mathematics teacher using the Frayer Modelin a Rehearsal pattern described how he made sureto “give an answer for each of the four sections ofthe Frayer Model during my lecture.” He then hadstudents copy these into their Frayer Model diagramduring the lecture or transcribe from their notes afterthe lecture, in which he would “try to hint right wherewe covered examples and non examples and defn[definition] in their notes.” At other times the teacherwould explicitly require students to complete theFrayer Model using the definition from their notes.In a contrasting example classified as Reorganization,another mathematics teacher described how sheused the VVWA strategy to develop students’understanding of concepts. “We usually do some sortof activity where they ‘discover’ the concept.... Thenwe fill out the VVWA, but I ask them to tell me whata good definition would be.”In an example coded Transitional enactment,a mathematics teacher devoted an entire classperiod to work with a modified Frayer Model. In anintroductory lesson for a chapter, students were given16 vocabulary words, encouraged to write definitions,and drew pictures of examples and nonexamples theyidentified for each. They were instructed to use boththeir books and their knowledge to write definitions intheir own words. While the teacher’s intent was to elicitprior knowledge and deepen student understandingof each term, the large number of words and use ofthe textbook meant that students were drawn towardusing the textbook definition. No class time wasdevoted to discussion of student ideas or to connectingwords with meanings developed during prior learningexperiences. Instead, the teacher reviewed terms anddefinitions so that students could see where they wereright or wrong. Words were considered in isolationfrom other meaningful learning experiences. As aresult, thinking about each word was more closelyconnected to a textbook definition than to anylearning activity that might have been used todevelop conceptual understanding of the term. Thusa lesson with potential for Reorganization of studentunderstanding resulted instead in students revisitingand rehearsing definitions.ReadingAnticipation Guides are designed to lead students tothoughtfully read and interpret text (Forget, 2004).They consist of a series of plausible statements thatrephrase the text and require student analysis andinterpretation of the reading. Students begin bydetermining and discussing whether they believeeach statement is true or false. This task elicitsprior knowledge and motivates learners to read andinterpret the related text, looking for evidence tosupport their predictions. After reading, studentsare asked to reassess their identification of eachstatement, change their responses if needed, andjustify responses with evidence from the text (Figure2). Subsequent discussion of student findingsprovides opportunities to extend interpretationsof the text as they justify their responses usinginformation from the text as evidence. In projectworkshops, teachers had used such guides anddiscussed critical features.Enactments of Anticipation Guides identifiedas Rehearsal focused primarily on finding facts fromthe reading. In one case, a science teacher designedan Anticipation Guide that covered five pages of textFIGURE 1 Examples of Frayer Model and VVWAJAAL_116.indd 155JAAL_116.indd 155 10/13/2012 11:10:58 AM10/13/2012 11:10:58 AM
  • 6. FEATURE ARTICLE156JOURNALOFADOLESCENT&ADULTLITERACY56(2)OCTOBER2012and required students to respond to 30 statements.Many of the statements focused on finding factualinformation from the text, such as “Platelets have alife span of 10–15 days,” or were stated in ways thatcould be answered purely with prior knowledge, suchas “Most people will bleed to death from a smallcut.” When giving directions for this activity, theteacher asked the students to note the page numberas evidence of whether the statement was true orfalse and to correct false statements. The number ofstatements resulted in students focusing primarilyon those they could easily answer and skippingthe others. During the 17 minutes the teacher hadallotted for this activity, students completed onlyabout half of the 30 statements. Discussion waslimited to one statement and focused primarily onnoting the page where the correct information wasfound.In examples categorized as Reorganization,teachers created Anticipation Guides that elicitedstudents’ prior knowledge, engaged students inmaking inferences from the readings, and requiredthem to justify responses with evidence from thetext. For example, in a science lesson on earthquakes,the teacher started by having students respond tostatements, such as “Earthquakes are a form ofenergy” and “We are more likely to feel an earthquakeliving here in Idaho than someone in Minnesota,”that were designed to evoke students’ prior knowledgeand required them to make interpretations of thereadings. Before reading, students were polled to findout how many thought each statement was true orfalse, and students were asked to explain the thinkingbehind their responses. After reading, students werepolled again and asked to explain their reasoning andjustify their answers.In another science example categorized asTransitional, a teacher designed an AnticipationGuide for a fictionalized reading about the periodictable. The teacher explained that his goals for thislesson were to reinforce concepts previously learnedand for students to visualize the periodic tabledifferently. The teacher created the AnticipationGuide by modifying a worksheet he had usedpreviously with this reading. However, changing thequestions into statements for the Anticipation Guideresulted in some statements for which studentscould not state an opinion before reading, such as“The author refers to the ‘east coast,’ the group ofelements located here are the alkali metals.” Theteacher had not considered how changing thequestions into statements would result in studentsbeing unable to respond to some of the statementsbefore reading. Instructions for this guide askedstudents only to note the page and paragraph wherethey found supporting information. Although useof an Anticipation Guide with this reading had thepotential for students to rethink their understandingsof the periodic table, the design of the AnticipationGuide limited students’ opportunity to examinetheir prior understandings and emphasized findingfactual information from the reading rather thanmaking meaning of the ideas.WritingWriting-to-learn activities can take a variety of formsin mathematics or science classes. A teacher mightask students to respond to a short writing prompt,briefly summarize their understanding of what waslearned in a class activity, or write explanations and/or justifications of their problem-solving process orphenomena investigated in a science lab (Figure 3).Forget (2004) characterized writing as “thinking ontopaper” (p. 46), and as such it is a powerful reasoningtool. Writing serves to help students organize, analyze,interpret, and communicate ideas, leading to a deeperunderstanding of content concepts and relationships(Burns, 2004; Holliday et al., 1994). Because writingrequires reflection on work and clarification ofthoughts, it can assist students in consolidating theirthinking (NCTM, 2000). Additionally, students’writing provides content area teachers with a viewinto students’ thinking process and conceptualunderstanding, which can be used for assessment andinstructional modification.FIGURE 2 Example of Anticipation GuideJAAL_116.indd 156JAAL_116.indd 156 10/13/2012 11:10:58 AM10/13/2012 11:10:58 AM
  • 7. 157Teachers’EnactmentofContentLiteracyStrategiesinSecondaryScienceandMathematicsClassesWhen incorporating writing into lessons, teachersused a variety of writing-to-learn strategies, such asjournal prompts, guided note-taking, or quick-writesthat serve as brief summaries of concepts or learningactivities. Each of these strategies had the potentialto be used in the Rehearsal or the Reorganizationpattern. In examples classified as Rehearsal, the focusof writing was either on students recalling informationthat they had learned or recording information asit was being presented. In a mathematics lesson,the teacher asked students to write the rules for theorder of operations into their journals as an openingactivity. Doing so required students to recall the rules,find them in notes or text, or check with others. Thisactivity served as an opportunity for students to revisitthe rules and resulted in a record that students couldquickly and easily consult in future work. Discussionof the activity consisted of students reading theirentries and the teacher asking the class if entries wereright or wrong.In an example classified as Reorganization,students began the lesson by finding the real square,cube, or fourth roots of various integers. After classdiscussion of this work, they were to write (a) whycertain numbers have particular real square roots, (b)why 8 has only one real cube root, (c) a generalizationabout how many real roots a number will have foreven and for odd root numbers, and (d) an explanationof why their generalization makes sense. Afterwriting, student pairs discussed their generalizations,followed by a whole class discussion of student ideas.Finally, drawing on their generalizations and classdiscussion, students completed exercises in findingvarious real roots of real numbers. Students usedwriting to develop explanations and generalizationsfor mathematical processes they needed to use andunderstand.In a mathematics lesson in which the enactmentof writing-to-learn strategies was characterized asTransitional, students were asked to write conceptparagraphs in which they identified key conceptsin four sections of a common traditional textbookand described these in their own words. Thisstrategy enactment was characterized as Transitionalbecause the teachers’ intent was for students tomake meaning of these ideas by describing what theconcept meant to them; this goal was not realized,however, because of aspects of the lesson enactment.First, the number of concepts to be describedwas too great for students to write thoughtfullyabout each. Second, before students were allowedto begin, the teacher spent more than half theclass period walking them through examples andexplaining concepts. When students were unsurehow to proceed, they were directed to look upideas in the book. Resulting student explanationsprimarily described computational procedures,rather than discussing the underlying concepts andrelationships, and often used phrases found in thetextbook instead of students’ own words.The Table summarizes the coding schemewe developed based on the Rehearsal andReorganization patterns. The Transitional pattern isnot included. Transitional patterns include elementsof both Rehearsal and Reorganization resulting frommismatches between teachers’ goals and aspects oftheir enactment of strategies. Because this mismatchcan occur in many ways, it is not possible to provide asingular list of characteristics.Use of Rehearsal and Reorganization Enactmentsin a Single LessonThe previous examples have characterized teachers’enactment of specific strategies as Rehearsal,Reorganization, or Transitional. It is also importantto look at the classroom lesson as a whole. In a singlelesson, teachers may enact various strategies indifferent ways and for different purposes.For example, in one science lesson, the teacherstarted class with the writing prompt, “Whatorganelles do plant cells have that animal cells donot?” This question required students to recallpreviously learned information. When studentsstruggled to remember these details, the teacherallowed them to look in their books, a Rehearsalpattern. However, the lesson then led into a concept-mapping activity in which students applied thisknowledge of plant and animal cell organellesFIGURE 3 Example of Quick-write, a Writing-to-Learn StrategyJAAL_116.indd 157JAAL_116.indd 157 10/13/2012 11:10:58 AM10/13/2012 11:10:58 AM
  • 8. FEATURE ARTICLE158JOURNALOFADOLESCENT&ADULTLITERACY56(2)OCTOBER2012to identify and explain relationships among theorganelles. This required students to revisit andrevise their understanding of these concepts to createthe concept maps and describe the relationships, aReorganization pattern. The teacher’s goals forthe activity were to have students reorganize theirunderstanding of plant and animal cell organelles bydiscussing the relationships between these structuresthrough the creation of the concept map. In thiscase, a literacy strategy using a Rehearsal pattern wasused to prepare students for a subsequent activity thatused a Reorganization pattern.This example demonstrates how teachers’enactment of literacy strategies is influenced bytheir goals for student learning. Using a Rehearsalpattern to lead students to activate their priorknowledge, in this case, prepared students tosubsequently engage in an activity with greatpotential for conceptual reorganization. Thissuggests that to understand literacy strategy usein content classes, it is not enough simply to notewhich strategies are being used. It is important tocharacterize teachers’ goals and the nature of theirenactment of these strategies.DiscussionOur observations highlight the importance ofattending to the ways in which teachers incorporatecontent literacy strategies into their instruction,in addition to identifying whether or not thestrategies are used. All project teachers in our studyincorporated content literacy strategies into theirinstruction and adapted them for their classroomcontexts. Additionally, we found that teacherstended to enact content literacy strategies in waysthat aligned with their instructional goals andtheir current practices. As O’Brien et al. (1995)suggested, this tendency sometimes resulted ina mismatch between content literacy strategiesbased on socioconstructivist theories and teachers’goals and practices. However, we found that thisconflict did not necessarily result in a failure touse content literacy strategies, but rather resultedin some teachers modifying the strategies in waysthat minimized the conflict among their goals,classroom practices, and use of the strategies.Characterization of the three patterns ofstrategy enactment highlights the ways in whichthese conflicts and modifications occurred. Whenstrategies were enacted in alignment with theRehearsal pattern, teachers’ goals for instruction andclassroom practices conflicted with the intendedpurposes of the strategies as presented in the projectworkshops—that is, they focused on transmissionor rehearsal of knowledge rather than developmentof understanding, resulting in the strategies beingmodified from their intended use. When strategieswere enacted in a Reorganization pattern, teachers’goals and classroom practices were aligned with theintended use of the strategies, and modifications weremade to fit classroom contexts without altering theintended purpose.In examples of strategy enactment characterizedas Transitional, teachers described goals partiallyaligned with conceptual knowledge construction,TABLE Rehearsal and Reorganization Approaches to Content Literacy Strategy UseRehearsal approach emphasizes Reorganization approach emphasizesWriting Technical communication, such as writing formalreportsTaking notes/recording informationSupporting memorization or reinforcement ofknowledgeAssessing student knowledgeProcessing/constructing new knowledgeReflecting on prior learning and clarifying thinkingExplaining and justifying one’s steps/process to furtherunderstandingSupporting students in making their thinking explicitReading Decoding, vocabulary, and text structureAcquiring information/facts/vocabularyNontextbook resources used to create interest orshow applicationsDrawing on background knowledge and text structureto support comprehensionActive interaction with text to support conceptualunderstandingNontextbook resources used to develop broaderunderstanding of conceptsVocabulary Memorizing formal definitionsDefinitions taught first, followed by conceptdevelopmentEngaging students in constructing meaning ofvocabularyIntegration of vocabulary and conceptual developmentJAAL_116.indd 158JAAL_116.indd 158 10/13/2012 11:10:58 AM10/13/2012 11:10:58 AM
  • 9. 159Teachers’EnactmentofContentLiteracyStrategiesinSecondaryScienceandMathematicsClassesbut aspects of lesson enactment resulted infailure to accomplish these goals. In these cases,teachers structured classroom time in keepingwith traditional practices, such as expectingcompletion of a large number of questions or taskswithin a short time and restricting discussion ofactivities to teacher-guided discussions of “correct”answers, thus limiting exploration and reflectionon concepts.Draper (2010) has argued that secondarycontent area literacy instruction should focuson sense making and understanding and engagestudents in authentic disciplinary activities.This approach relies on teachers’ awareness andimplementation of reform-based instruction.Although we agree with the goals set out byDraper, the reality suggested by our study is thatnot all teachers have adopted instructional goalsand practices in alignment with reform-basedinstruction, and we cannot ignore the ways inwhich their goals and current practices influencecontent literacy instruction. Our observationsof the transitional pattern suggest that if similarinstructional activities and goals are not already inplace in a teacher’s practice, considerable learningand rethinking of the learning process may benecessary before a teacher can effectively teachin new ways, with a broader set of learning goals.For some teachers, the incorporation of contentliteracy strategies into their practice requires shiftsin previous instructional patterns, such as in theamount of time allotted for particular instructionalactivities, the connections among lesson activities,and the role of discussion. Teacher educators andprofessional developers can support such shifts inpractice.In this article, we have presented specificexamples of the ways in which teachers enact andadapt content literacy strategies. By presentingthese examples, we hope to increase the awarenessamong teachers, teacher educators, and inserviceproviders of the importance of attending to thesevariations. Some might argue that these adaptationsare not unexpected. However, until we begin toacknowledge and characterize these adaptations,the presentation of the strategies as simple toolsthat can be applied to any context, withoutassociated discussion of the relationship betweentheir purposes and possible uses, may lead to thetools not being used in ways that enhance studentunderstanding.When teaching with content literacy strategiesto develop students’ understanding of scienceand mathematics concepts, consider bothlesson design and lesson enactment.Planning Instruction:✓ Determine the key concepts you want studentsto learn from the lesson.✓ Make sure the design of the lesson addressesthese key concepts and provides time forstudent reflection and discussion of theseideas.o Don’t try to do too much. Doing the deepthinking takes time.o Choose a few concepts for a single lesson.✓ Think through the responses you want to elicitfrom students. Will the design of the lessonlead to the desired thinking and understanding?For example:o Are the Anticipation Guide statements writtenin ways that elicit students’ prior conceptionsand encourage critical analysis of the text? Isspace provided in the Anticipation Guide forstudents to explain their thinking?o Can examples and nonexamples be identifiedfor the terms used in the Frayer Model?o Does the writing prompt require students tosynthesize new learning and old, make a claimand develop supporting arguments, justifytheir thinking, or reflect on and make meaningof the learning in the lesson?Lesson Enactment:✓ Model the strategy for students and provideexamples of types of responses that youseek.✓ Encourage students to draw on prior experi-ences and reframe ideas using their own wordswhen using text resources.✓ Allow sufficient time for reflection anddiscussion.✓ Act as a moderator during discussions andencourage students to explain their thinking andjustify their ideas.✓ Encourage full discussion of ideas fromstudents’ perspectives and avoid focusing onright answers alone.Take ActionS T E P S F O R I M M E D I A T E I M P L E M E N T A T I O NJAAL_116.indd 159JAAL_116.indd 159 10/13/2012 11:10:58 AM10/13/2012 11:10:58 AM
  • 10. FEATURE ARTICLE160JOURNALOFADOLESCENT&ADULTLITERACY56(2)OCTOBER2012Professional development and preservicecourses can provide opportunities for teachers touse the strategies with content material, to conductfocused observations of lessons using literacystrategies, and to debrief what was observed. Suchexperiences help teachers create a vision for effectiveuse of these strategies within the disciplines, providethem with evidence that students can engagesuccessfully in these new ways of learning, and allowthem to see how such strategies provide studentswith opportunities to deepen their understandingand extend their learning. When introducingcontent literacy strategies, it is important to spendtime discussing current understandings of studentlearning and to explicitly tie discussion of thepurposes and design of content literacy strategies tothese theories.Content literacy strategies offer a useful set ofinstructional tools for teachers of mathematics andscience that can be used to achieve current goals inmathematics and science education by providingopportunities for student thinking, reasoning, andmeaning making (Banilower, Cohen, Pasley, &Weiss, 2008; NCTM, 2000). However, achievingthese goals is dependent upon the nature ofinstructional enactment. The particular ways thatteachers enacted literacy strategies were influencedby multiple factors, including teachers’ learninggoals for their students, prior teaching practices, andpressures resulting from limited classroom time. If wewish to understand teachers’ use of literacy strategies,we must consider a range of factors that go beyondteachers’ knowledge of the strategies themselves.Only then can we provide effective support andopportunities for teachers to become knowledgeableand fluent in the use of these strategies, makingthem available to promote increasingly deep andconnected learning of mathematics and sciencethrough authentic engagement in disciplinarydiscourses.ReferencesAlvermann, D.E., O’Brien, D.G., & Dillon, D.R. (1990).What teachers do when they say they’re having discussionsof content area reading assignments: A qualitativeanalysis. Reading Research Quarterly, 25(4), 296–322.doi:10.2307/747693Banilower, E., Cohen, K., Pasley, J., & Weiss, I. (2008).Effective science instruction: What does research tellus? Portsmouth, NH: RMC Corporation, Center onInstruction.Bean, T.W. (1997). Preservice teachers’ selection and use ofcontent area literacy strategies. The Journal of EducationalResearch, 90(3), 154–163.Billmeyer, R., & Barton, M.L. (1998). Teaching reading in thecontent areas: If not me, then who? (2nd ed.). Alexandria,VA: Association for Supervision and CurriculumDevelopment.Blachowicz, C.L.Z., Fisher, P.J.L., Ogle, D., & Watts-Taffe,S. (2006). Vocabulary: Questions from the classroom.Reading Research Quarterly, 41(4), 524–539. doi:10.1598/RRQ.41.4.5Brown, J.S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognitionand the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1),32–42.Burns, M. (2004). Writing in math class. Sausalito, CA: MathSolutionsCantrell, S.C., & Callaway, P. (2008). High and low implementersof content literacy instruction: Portraits of teacher efficacy.Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(7), 1739–1750.doi:10.1016/j.tate.2008.02.020Dillon, D.R., O’Brien, D.G., Moje, E.B., & Stewart, R.A. (1994).Literacy learning in secondary school science classrooms:A cross-case analysis of three qualitative studies. Journal ofResearch in Science Teaching, 31(4), 345–362. doi:10.1002/tea.3660310405Draper, R.J. (2002). School mathematics reform, constructivism,and literacy: A case for literacy instruction in the reform-oriented math classroom. Journal of Adolescent & AdultLiteracy, 45(6), 520–529.Draper, R.J. (Ed.). (2010). (Re)Imagining content-area literacyinstruction. New York: Teachers College Press.Fisher, D., & Ivey, G. (2005). Literacy and language as learningin content-area classes: A departure from “every teacher ateacher of reading.” Action in Teacher Education, 27(2), 3–11.doi:10.1080/01626620.2005.10463378Forget, M.A. (2004). Max teaching with reading and writing:Classroom activities for helping students learn new subjectmatter while acquiring literacy skills. Victoria, BC:Trafford.Hall, G.E., & Hord, S.M. (2006). Implementing change: Patterns,principles, and potholes. Boston: Pearson Education.Holliday, W.G., Yore, L.D., & Alvermann, D.E. (1994).The reading-science learning-writing connection:Breakthroughs, barriers, and promises. Journal ofResearch in Science Teaching, 31(9), 877–893. doi:10.1002/tea.3660310905Lawrenz, F., Huffman, D., & Appeldoorn, K. (2002).Classroom observation handbook. Retrieved June 7,2011, from cehd.umn.edu/CAREI/cetp/Handbooks/COPHandbook.pdfMoje, E.B. (2008). Foregrounding the disciplines in secondaryliteracy teaching and learning: A call for change. Journalof Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(2), 96–107. doi:10.1598/JAAL.52.2.1National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2000). Principlesand standards for school mathematics. Reston, VA: NationalCouncil of Teachers of Mathematics.National Research Council. (1996). National science educationstandards. Washington, DC: National Academies.JAAL_116.indd 160JAAL_116.indd 160 10/13/2012 11:10:58 AM10/13/2012 11:10:58 AM
  • 11. 161Teachers’EnactmentofContentLiteracyStrategiesinSecondaryScienceandMathematicsClassesO’Brien, D.G., Stewart, R.A., & Moje, E.B. (1995). Why contentliteracy is difficult to infuse into the secondary school:Complexities of curriculum, pedagogy, and school culture.Reading Research Quarterly, 30(3), 442–463. doi:10.2307/747625Romine, B.G., McKenna, M.C., & Robinson, R.D. (1996).Reading coursework requirements for middle and high schoolcontent area teachers: A U.S. survey. Journal of Adolescent &Adult Literacy, 40(3), 194–198.Vaughan, S.C. (1986). Using language to think: Developingconcepts in social studies, science and mathematics.The Journal of Early Adolescence, 6(3), 205–219.doi:10.1177/0272431686063001Yore, L.D., & Treagust, D.F. (2006). Current realities andfuture possibilities: Language and science literacy—empowering research and informing instruction.International Journal of Science Education, 28(2–3), 291–314.doi:10.1080/09500690500336973Books• Kenney, J.M., Hancewicz, E., Heuer, L., Metsisto, D., &Tuttle, C.L. (2005). Literacy strategies for improvingmathematics instruction. Alexandria, VA: Association forSupervision and Curriculum Development.• Pugalee, D.K. (2007). Developing mathematical andscientific literacy: Effective content reading practices.Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon.• Wellington, J.J., & Osborne, J. (2001). Language andliteracy in science education. Philadelphia: OpenUniversity Press.More to ExploreC O N N E C T E D C O N T E N T - B A S E D R E S O U R C E SJAAL_116.indd 161JAAL_116.indd 161 10/13/2012 11:10:58 AM10/13/2012 11:10:58 AM