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Literacy Methods and Resources 

Where?

Where to add literacy activities? You can add them in existing assignments. You can also use them to improve your class culture. There are several things you can do.

Class Voids

Think about it – you take 3-7 minutes at the beginning of each period to take roll, handle student issues, or finish that last email. That is up to TWO HOURS a month of wasted time! What about time after a test as students wait for others to finish. What about that class interruption/phone call/administrator stopping to ask a question? These are all times you can call “Reading Time” and students jump into their reading.

Improving Existing Instruction

We all teach report writing. We all have open response assessment items. We all have vocabulary that is new to the student. Every unit can have reading assignments. Each of these are opportunities to teach…literacy!

What? Lesson Plans, Ideas & Resources 

by Thomas Washburn 

Report Writing 

We have an online lesson plan for teaching narratives. It can be modified for extant teaching. Click here to go to the page. 

Unit Vocabulary 

In most units you need to add vocabulary activities. It ensures students are familiar with unit language. Take your key terms and create crossword puzzles using the specific definition you want them to learn. Don’t have them look them up on their own. Then take the key words and make a word search. Word searches help students understand how the word is formed. This helps with spelling as well as understanding. Finally have the students make index cards or study worksheets. Then quiz them. I let mine take the quiz once a day until they passed (my primary goal was vocabulary acquisition). Take a look at my Ethics Unit vocabulary packet – click here. I had vocabulary packets through all my classes in about 90% of my units. 

Unit Reading 

In each unit I had students read. Students read portions of the textbook, magazine articles, Wikipedia entries and other materials and filled out worksheets or other assignments. Usually the worksheets followed the reading and were fill in the blank. I used these more in my intro classes as these were my weakest readers. I used Knowledge Collector List to have students process reading on a higher skill level. I used these with most articles. Teaching students to take notes of their reading is a higher skill. I often used this in my third year class. Don’t expect students to know how to take notes of reading material. Click here for some general information from UNC. 

Books and Novels

Having students read on their own is very important. I had students read at least one book each semester. I found something for each course. I wanted something they would like but also something that would improve them. I read In Cold Blood in forensics and used the criminology unit in the course to apply theories to the murderers in the book. My assignments varied by student level. In my introduction class we read The Hot Zone (about Ebola) as it related to CERT training. The students read chapters, or subchapters and answered open ended questions – click here to see the first assignment. I introduced note taking in later courses. I told the students, “you are working for Sparks/Cliff Notes” and that they must give a summary of each reading with similar thoroughness. They could then use their notes when taking their reading quizzes. Advice on reading quizzes – you have to make them simple enough for your lower readers to be able to answer. The last thing you want to do is discourage your lower readers. Here are some open ended questions I used for In Cold Bloodclick here