A McKay School study examined the efficacy of a disciplinary literacy approach compared to a literacy-only approach for second-grade students. This approach encourages teachers to consider new ways of thinking about literacy instruction: creatively teaching children to hone and develop the literacy tools and skills they need to become experts within different fields.
Disciplinary literacy has been defined in a scholarly article titled "Literacy and Science: Each in the Service of the Other" (Science 328, no. 5977 [April 2010]: 459-63). Authors P. David Pearson, Elizabeth Moje, and Cynthia Greenleaf explained:
Students fine-tune their literacy tools not only when they read and write science texts but also when they engage in science investigations precisely because so many of the sense-making tools of science are consistent with, if not identical to, those of literacy, thus allowing a set ting for additional practice and refinement that can enhance future reading and writing efforts. (p. 460)
Disciplinary literacy instruction was given in three 20- to 30-minute lessons a week over the course of eight weeks. The instruction incorporated reading, writing, speaking, and listening as literacy tools to make sense of science content and incorporated hands-on experiences, data collection, creation of arguments based upon evidence, and the generation of inferences. Initial findings suggest that educators should consider a disciplinary literacy instructional approach as one way to support and encourage young children as they learn to write science informational texts effectively, to enhance reading motivation, and to strengthen reading comprehension.
Sarah Clark, Associate Professor, Literacy Education, Department of Teacher Education
Photo courtesy of the McKay School
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