Literacy is a leading indicator of student success, and it is an essential skill for any subject area! Students aren’t just reading books, poems, and stories in English Language Arts—they read laboratory experiment instructions in science, word problems in math, and maps in social studies! Reading is a complicated, multi-faceted skill, as it requires students to master language comprehension and word recognition, but cross-curricular reading practice can help students practice these skills even when English Language Arts class is over.
To help you help your students with literacy skills, we’ve gathered Top 10 SOS Instructional Strategies focused on reading and literacy. These instructional strategies support students in language comprehension, specifically building background knowledge, strengthening comprehension, and developing disciplinary vocabulary. Use these strategies in your classroom, no matter what content area you’re teaching, to help students practice disciplinary-specific literacy skills.
Stimulate Interest & Build Background Knowledge
Part of starting a new lesson is getting students excited about their learning and helping them connect it to past topics of study! When your students are working with new content, being able to connect the new information to their current knowledge helps them make sense of the information faster. Try these strategies to spark student interest and activate their prior knowledge—all while having fun!
- Combine text and imagery with Can You Guess My 2-1-4? to encourage students to dive deeper into concepts and content. With this instructional strategy, students build literacy by making evidence-based inferences using facts, clues, and images that lead them to logical conclusions.
- Introduce students to a new topic through a Collage of images. Help them activate prior knowledge to make connections between images before making predictions about the content and upcoming unit of study.
- The Envelope Please helps students use prior knowledge and clues to make predictions about a topic of study. Discussion and reflection solidify understanding and allow students to make stronger connections between different sources of information.
Looking for more literacy ideas? Check out how elementary ELA teacher Judith Philias uses DE to strengthen her students' literacy skills!
Strengthening Comprehension & Meaningful Interaction with Text
- Encourage students to interact with the audio and transcript of a video before viewing it. Read All About It provides a scaffold to encourage students to reread text multiple times to ensure they comprehend it.
- Inspired by the well-known kids’ game, the Telephone instructional strategy lets students work collaboratively to practice speaking and listening skills while synthesizing key ideas and details presented in a DE resource.
- Discerning the differences between and the reasons behind various authors’ purposes is important in comprehension and critical thinking. With the There’s An App for That strategy, students read a text and identify the author’s purpose, then prove it using text-based evidence to support their thinking.
Build & Develop Vocabulary
Think of your students’ vocabulary as an incomplete dictionary—how will they discover and decode new words to add to their personal dictionary? The best way to encounter new words is by working with them in context, and these engaging strategies will help get your students thinking about new terms, not just defining them!
- Use the Concept Circles instructional strategy to build a foundational understanding of new terms and how they connect to each other and the central concept you’re teaching. Select a video, audio clip, or reading passage and have students use the Concept Circle graphic organizer to then visualize and analyze the relationship between vocabulary words within the content.
- Build vocabulary while supporting visual and kinesthetic learners with Fold, Draw, Learn. Students will develop the ability to use context clues by paying careful attention to a video and interpreting a drawing made by another student.
- With Vocabulary Stepping Stones, have students consider vocabulary within the context of a video to encourage better understanding of each term’s definition. Introduce vocabulary words before students watch a video, then have them listen for the terms and sequence them according to when they are mentioned. Lastly, prompt students to discuss the video topics, incorporating the vocabulary words and how they were used in context.
- Transform a passive learning experience into an active learning opportunity with the Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt. Identify vocabulary words and then have students demonstrate their understanding by clapping and defining the terms when they hear them in a DE video.
Take a moment to reflect on your subject area. Do you teach reading explicitly? If not, how does literacy fit into your subject? Ramp up your students’ reading experiences with these strategies or find professional learning resources and literacy content to implement in your classroom from Discovery Education’s partnership with Dollar General Literacy!