Content Area Literacy is the term used to describe the reading done in subjects other than language arts. I chose the term literacy, rather than reading, because literacy encompasses all of the necessary elements in the field of reading. While informed professionals understand that reading is not simply decoding words, many teachers are ignorant of this fact. McClure, Garthwait, and Kristo (2015) explained that reading is “the act of reflecting, discussing, and potentially engaging with text” (p. 45). In the content areas, this means that reading is a focal aspect of learning to understand various subjects, and the Common Core State Standards support this claim by stating that 50 percent of elementary school reading should be devoted to informational text (Shanahan & Shanahan, 2014).
Furthermore, the term literacy suggests that students are made literate in each subject. Strategies necessary to comprehend informational text are different from those needed to comprehend literature (source), and since adults primarily read informational texts, these skills will be beneficial as students grow older (Kane, 2008). Moreover, since prior knowledge is necessary to understand texts (source), each subject requires its own reading skills.
Additionally, literacy does not only refer to reading. Literacy also refers to writing, discussing, and becoming fluent in the specific subject area...
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...Allowing students to choose from a variety of materials, motivates students to desire to learn. Furthermore, it provides them with multiple perspectives about a specific topic.
Additionally, giving students a choice provides them with a feeling of responsibility and gives them ownership of their learning (Daniels & Zemelman, 2014). Students can even do “jigsaw activities” (Daniels & Zemelman, 2014, p. 214), in which they present the book they chose to the rest of the class, in order for the entire class to benefit from each student’s readings.
I do not always have the opportunity to provide students with a choice because of curriculum constraints and because I am not my students’ primary teacher. However, whenever I can, I try to give my students a choice because I want them to experience the feeling of ownership and responsibility that variety and choice allows.
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