Subject-Specific Literacy Sharing the Work of Avon Maitland Secondary School Teachers
After two years of teacher inquiry projects related to written communication in Avon Maitland secondary schools and literacy focus group sessions with subject specific teacher teams, the following perspectives have emerged:
Most of the teaching and learning challenges presented by Avon Maitland high school teachers focused on helping students support their thinking and on teaching students to consolidate information (summarization, note making, conclusion writing, and communicating information in point form).
Various disciplines ask different questions of texts, require different types of background knowledge to decode text and differ in the nature of what counts as evidence.
Teachers benefit from defining literacy within the context of their disciplines.
Students benefit when the subject specific literacy skills are made explicit.
These observations support the research on adolescent literacy and subject-specific literacy.
The following slides were developed by teacher focus groups with the intention of beginning a conversation about subject-specific literacy. In some instances, focus groups also began to explore the differences between the classroom texts they use and texts that are authentic in their discipline.
Business literacy involves budgeting, forecasting and contingency planning (considering variables that might impact your business). It is an understanding of the global economic environment and economic business cycles.
A person who is business literate knows and follows the ethical standards of their company, profession, and society (corporate citizenship); responds creatively to the market place and its changes and challenges; and realizes and responds to change and opportunities.
Civic literacy involves being media literate; students should be able to read media texts and identify the civic issues, can watch national news broadcasts and relate to content from multiple perspectives. This type of literacy involves understanding active citizenship; knowing how to participate in the electoral process, volunteer, and voice one’s opinion in a democratic society. Civic literacy also means that one can appreciate and evaluate the perspectives of others. Finally, being an informed citizen and knowing how government works in Canada and its role on the world stage is an important element of civic literacy.
Civics texts (in the classroom) look like... - newspapers - handouts - textbooks - videos - presentations (multi-media & oral) - field trips - news broadcasts
Authentic Civics texts look like... - newspapers/radio/television/podcasts - voting/polling stations - field trips - debates - parliament - volunteering - pamphlets - conversation/dialogue - public forum - political commercials
Geographical literacy includes knowledge and understanding of physical, human and environmental systems.
Geographical literacy is the ability to access, manage and evaluate geographical information; including: statistical, graphical, visual and contextual data. It is the ability to communicate thoughts and ideas effectively using a variety of these skills.
Geographical literacy is the ability to apply knowledge learned, think critically, and make intelligent decisions concerning human interactions with the environment.
Historical literacy is an understanding of the human experience. Concepts like empathy, bias and cultural memory aid in providing a context for the complexity of history. Methodologies like hypothesis, prediction, critical thinking, logic, and historiography create a ladder that makes history accessible. Processes like cause/effect, chronology, continuity and change, and inquiry are ways to manage information. The end result of historical literacy is to enhance our understanding of the world today and tomorrow. Picture by sisaphus
Physical and health literacy is the ability to demonstrate an understanding of the general principles surrounding a healthy active lifestyle. This includes good decision making skills about daily activity, nutrition, sexuality, substance use and abuse and human relationships. A basic understanding of rules, strategies and terminology of a variety of physical activities is also an essential component. A practical application of these principles is necessary for complete physical and health education literacy .
Authentic Texts Used in Healthy, Active Living
Pamphlets from health unit
Health nurses and drug counsellors
Videos and video clips
Nutrition and ingredient labels
Exercise Instructional posters
Science Literacy Understanding Our World Image by 姒儿喵喵
Scientific literacy involves developing observational skills so that individuals are aware of the natural environment around them. This allows them to formulate questions and design ways of investigating these questions. The connections made from the analysis of data and information through investigation is used to identify the value and impact of that information to their lives in order to form opinions and make decisions. A scientifically literate person can confidently use these connections to engage in discussions and communicate ideas using a variety of media.
Photo by Sifter Literacy in English 4 Different Definitions
Students in English are literate when they can use language in written and oral forms to communicate clearly their understanding of a variety of texts (visual, print, graphic, digital, spoken) in order to make connections to their own lives through the careful examination of the parts and functions of those texts. In English, students explore these connections through works of prose fiction and non-fiction, poetry, and media forms. Furthermore, students must be able to apply critical literacy to the assessment and evaluation of the purpose of the text, especially to become self reflective of their ability to read, write, speak and listen effectively. Ultimately, literacy in the English classroom makes explicit through language the connections the reader makes to self, text and humanity.
Know, Speak, Be, Do: Literacy in the English Classroom
Students in the English classroom are literate when:
they understand different literary genres, grammatical and mechanical conventions, and forms and purposes of writing.
they can think and respond critically to various forms of texts (novels, films, plays, poetry, electronic texts, manuals, non-fiction, articles, etc.). Thinking critically means using a filter to determine accuracy, bias, validity, and the ability to ask questions and draw conclusions on their own.
they can listen, speak, write and read effectively.
they are able to apply the skills acquired in the English classroom to other contexts within the school and community.
Literacy can be defined as the ability to comprehend and apply the modes of discourse in various texts. In order to achieve a level of comprehension, students will be able to identify, describe, analyse, explain, interpret, and draw conclusions about meaning in a variety of texts, according to the purpose of the particular course. In order to demonstrate application skills, students will be able to communicate meaning to others in a variety of mediums.
Text = literature, non-fiction, mixed media, internet, oral
What should an Englishly (sic) literate person be able to do?
read from a variety of texts, in a broad spectrum of formats, genres and styles, for understanding, information and personal connection
derive interest, entertainment, and value from texts in a variety...
integrate content from media in a variety... into a meaningful spectrum with what they have previously read, viewed, heard, experienced and perhaps written themselves
engage with community and participate in meaningful discourse (written, verbal or otherwise) about the media that the participant has consumed
build a foundation of meaning and values upon which can be structured a framework for future inquiry and growth
implement critical thinking with regard to media in a variety...
make informed opinions about the media
Literacy in Transportation Technology to solve practical challenges efficiently and accurately Image by Julep67
Literacy in Transportation Technology is the ability to read and understand technical information, procedures and facts in manuals and on computer databases. It is the use of problem solving skills to determine the diagnostic process of examining symptoms (in an analytical and logical manner) in order to determine solutions for specific vehicle technical problems. It is the ability to use tools and hands-on skills to efficiently and accurately repair a vehicle. Literacy in Transportation Technology is also the ability to communicate by recording information and providing feedback to the customer (teacher )using proper terminology that is correct , but not beyond the understanding of the customer.
Experience builds background knowledge that the technician accesses in future problem solving and repair to maximize time efficiency.
Texts We Use in the Transportation Technology Classroom
Visual arts literacy is at its heart the ability to analyze, decode, interpret and evaluate a variety of stimuli from the world around us. This includes images, symbols, spatial arrangements, sounds and text.
The students will demonstrate their visual arts literacy through the ability to effectively use the following to express ideas, concepts and emotions:
Time to Act: An Agenda for Advancing Adolescent Literacy
Writing Next: Effective Strategies for Improving the Writing of Adolescents in Middle Schools and High Schools
Reading in the Disciplines: The Challenges of Adolescent Literacy
Moje, E. B., McIntosh Ciechanowski, K., Kramer, K., Ellis, L., Carrillo, R., & Collazo, T. (2004). Working toward third space in content area literacy: An examination of everyday funds of knowledge and discourse . Reading Research Quarterly , 39 (1), 38-71 .