EDA 383 Language and Literacy in the Content Area
Final Project, due 9/9/09
Joy Melvin
Content Area: English Language Arts

(Note: To skip the introduction and proceed to the Wiki pages on reading strategies, click here.)


The standard definition of literacy seems quite simple: the quality or state of being literate, especially the ability to read and write.
Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction defined modern literacy, specifically for adolescents: “Twenty-first century literacy includes the ability to manage, synthesize, and analyze multiple streams of information. Literate adolescents need a strong foundation in subject area content. They must draw on that knowledge as they think globally and creatively when identifying and solving problems and recognize the interconnectedness and diversity of the world.”

“Literacy is the heart of learning,” former State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster has said. “Reading is the fundamental skill that separates children who succeed from those who struggle.”

In the past, the teaching of reading was generally confined to English Language Arts instruction in the elementary grades; the thinking was that once students learned to read, they could move forward on their own. However, now we are finding that the increased complexity of our textbooks and the challenges of new and ever-changing technology mandate continued reading instruction across the curriculum to help our students succeed.

Adult literacy statistics in Wisconsin clearly demonstrate the urgent need for instruction for adolescents, who will soon be adults. About 1 million Wisconsin adults qualify for adult literacy and English language services, while one report says 40 percent of manufacturers say they are unable to improve productivity partly because their employees lack reading, writing, math, or communication skills. Nearly a third of the state’s population growth in the last decade came from immigrants; most of those immigrants are of Hispanic descent.

To help support recommendations of the State Superintendent’s High School Task Force in 2006 that “adolescent literacy be a priority in Wisconsin so students enter high school reading at or above grade level,” I will focus here on eighth-grade English Language Arts, my content area.
  • I selected three vocabulary strategies: Wordsplash, Guess and Adjust, and Word Study Guide.
  • For writing strategies, I chose Discovery Writing, plus real-world editing examples that could come from newspapers, books, magazines; students could bring in examples.
  • The discussion strategy selected is online threaded discussion.
  • Note-taking strategies included here are Structured Note-Taking, and holding thinking.