Literacy 7-12

Systems Change
Literacy 7-12 > Factors > Disciplinary Literacy

Disciplinary Literacy

Factor Connections

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How Disciplinary Literacy connects to...

When adolescents enter middle school, reading and writing become increasingly centered around different disciplines. Content specific discourses require students to learn the varying conventions of communication to effectively comprehend content and reinforce understanding. Adolescents also become more capable of creating their own discipline-specific texts such as arguments, narratives, proofs, or lab reports.

Main Ideas

As middle and high school content becomes more diverse and comprehensive, adolescents need to develop varied reading and writing skills. Some examples of specific conventions within the disciplines in middle and high school include:

  • In a social studies classroom, students learn and practice norms for reading and writing like a historian. This may include processing primary sources, understanding historical dialect and contextual meanings, and conducting historical research.
  • Literacy within a science classroom includes navigating visual representations of data, comprehending applicable mathematical expressions, and understanding the communication of scientific research. Research literacy in the sciences include academic terms used in scientific inquiry (e.g., hypothesis, control group) and content specific Vocabulary.
  • Similarly, in a mathematics classroom, students must understand mathematical expressions and language to aid in navigating mathematics textbooks. Often, these texts are not written in prose and do not generally aim to promote an integrated understanding of mathematical concepts.
  • For English and language arts (ELA), students begin to incorporate multi-layered meanings into their interpretations of fiction and poetry, as opposed to searching for one "right answer" or singular theme. Understanding more complex literature also requires a deeper understanding of figurative language, rhetorical devices, and other writing tools that enrich textual interpretations.

Foundational reading and writing skills become more sophisticated as students access higher level and multimedia texts. These skills are also increasingly important for completing tasks using online resources, which require the ability to locate and evaluate digital information from multiple sources. Those students who have better digital navigation skills may also learn content knowledge more efficiently.

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