Disciplinary Literacy, next level Content Literacy

For years, I’ve proudly explained my content specialities in grades 4-8 as having a strong focus on “content literacy.” Imagine my surprise during the first video in MOOC, when they explained that content literacy is an intermediary step with Disciplinary Literacy being the pinnacle for depth of learning. Huh.

My motivation in teaching Content Literacy had been to improve student vocabulary across content areas. To raise reading levels, not just improve content understanding in my content, but provide better background for all future student reading. I had avoided doing some vocabulary study specifically on words unique to that (math) class as it was not widely beneficial across contents. Now I was confronted with a narrowing of disciplinary knowledge, a specificity of study which – by design – does not cross content areas.

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