You don’t have to choose: Disciplinary Literacy as Path to Cultivating Passion

  By Dana VanderLugt, Ottawa ISD Literacy Consultant and Disciplinary Literacy Task Force Member I remember the staff meeting well. I was early in my career as a middle school English teacher when my principal made a flippant comment, something like, “We’re not here for our content, but for kids. We love our students more than what we teach.” I instantly felt a pang of guilt. I did care about my students. I loved reading with and beside students, helping them to think deeper about texts, pushing their writing skills beyond what they believed was possible. I secretly even loved when they rolled their eyes about my passion around morphology or when I introduced the magic of the dash—my favorite punctuation mark.  When it comes to teaching, I can’t separate kids and content: what I love is teaching students English.  I, like possibly many other secondary teachers, have woken up more than once in a cold sweat from a nightmare: it’s the beginning of the school year and I have been assigned

The Value of Building Disciplinary Communities

By Laura Gabrion, Wayne RESA Literacy Consultant and Disciplinary Literacy Task Force Member At the 67th Annual Michigan Reading Association Conference in March, three MAISA GELN 6-12 Disciplinary Literacy Task Force members came together to discuss School-wide Essential Practice #8 and Instructional Essential Practice #9 . These practices can be found in our Essential School-Wide Practices in Disciplinary Literacy: Grades 6 to 12 and our Essential Instructional Practices for Disciplinary Literacy in the Secondary Classroom documents, respectively.  While the conference theme amplified the importance of developing and sustaining communities within our various educational spaces, each conference presentation defined community in its own unique way. Since our focus as members of the Disciplinary Literacy Task Force was to explore ways to connect students to disciplinary communities within and beyond the classroom, we urged participants to consider how classroom activities, such as pr

Disciplinary Literacies and Inquiry Based Instruction: Community Outreach and Education in the Civically Engaged Classroom

As part of our studies in Equity-Based Disciplinary Literacies at Washtenaw ISD, participating educators are reading and applying learning from The Civically Engaged Classroom: Reading, Writing and Speaking for Change . Ms. Willow Newman, an ELA teacher at the Early College Alliance at Eastern Michigan University, finds that learning, thinking, and planning with students for civic engagement naturally leads to enacting inquiry-based instruction in the classroom. The following summary from Ms. Willow highlights #1 Inquiry-Based Instruction of The Essential Instructional Practices for Disciplinary Literacy in the Secondary Classroom , particularly: engages students in disciplinary-specific (e.g. historical, political, economic, sociological, or geographic) thinking;  helping students see social science connections to their lives and identities by reading and engaging in discipline-specific, real-world, and/or issue-based investigations with attention to issues of equity, power, and ju

Making a Difference: The Value of High-Quality Professional Learning

By Laura Gabrion, Wayne RESA Literacy Consultant and Disciplinary Literacy Task Force Member, and Jenelle Williams, Oakland Schools Literacy Consultant and Disciplinary Literacy Task Force Co-Chair As noted in the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Policy Research Brief entitled “Literacies of Disciplines'' (2011), “[i]mplementing literacies of disciplines will require significant attention to professional development for teachers.” Furthermore, e ffective professional development, as described in a literature review by Darling-Hammond et al. (2017), should have several key characteristics. It needs to be focused on content; involve active and collaborative learning; use models of effective practice; provide opportunities for feedback and reflection; and be of sustained duration. As such, “[t]he professional development that will provide teachers with the resources and strategies necessary to support students in acquiring plural literacies needs to be sustained and

How can disciplinary literacy practices in social studies help us to cultivate the skills people need for life?

by Stacie Woodward Disciplinary Literacy and Social Studies Consultant, Oakland Schools Social studies education should prepare students not just for college and careers, but for life---particularly, civic life.  All students deserve to leave high school with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that enable them to effectively do things like serving on juries, deciphering the platforms of political candidates, spotting fake news, and engaging in problem-solving and informed action to better their own communities.   Perhaps now, more than ever, the experiences in social studies classrooms need to focus on building the critical thinking, problem-solving, and participatory skills vital to engaged citizenship. Thankfully, after years of marginalization of the social studies and the narrowing of the curriculum as a response to the demands of high-stakes testing, there is an emerging emphasis on shifting toward this type of powerful social studies education. In 2013, the College, Career,

Disciplinary Literacy Is Easier When Using a Resource that Supports Content Area Literacy

By Wendi Vogel, Kent ISD Science Consultant and Disciplinary Literacy Task Force Member Essential Practices for Disciplinary Literacy Instruction in the Secondary Classroom: Grades 6 to 12 focus on literacy in the content area. This brings up a lot of questions around how teachers all over the state might access resources that already utilize Disciplinary Literacy Essentials (DLE) instructional practices in an equitable manner. Then, thinking from a system's lens, how does a district provide this opportunity for each teacher in grades 6-12? Nationwide, there are science education researchers, classroom teachers, and science education specialists using grant funds to develop Open Education Resources (OERs) . These resources focus on phenomenon or problem based learning, which is DLE #1. An entire science unit is written around a phenomenon or problem students will make sense of and be able to explain at a more sophisticated level over time. Some examples from these units include,