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Head: Literacy Across the Curriculum


Literacy Across the Curriculum Research Paper: Part 1


Katiana Cokinos
Principia College

Running Head: Literacy Across the Curriculum


Throughout elementary, middle, and especially high school, I had an awful
perspective about reading. I believed that reading was unproductive and unimportant. I
thought of reading as a consequence and a chore. Whenever I was assigned summer
reading, I procrastinated it until the last minute, thinking that my summer fun would be
ruined once I began the assigned novels. I wasnt read to much as a child, which I think
greatly impacted my thoughts about reading today. I have figured out that I am not
motivated when a teacher forces me to read a book. Usually, I feel a little bit better about
reading when its my choice on what to read. However, I love reading every day articles
that pop up on Facebook, something I find entertaining. Within these articles, I am
always first searching for lists, so I can get to the main point and the meat of the text. I
have read hundreds of JSH and Sentinel articles because I already know those readings
will make an impression and will benefit me.
The term literacy has always scared me. In high school, my English class read
novels like F. Scott Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby and S.E. Hintons The Outsiders. I
purposely didnt do the reading assignments and went reverted right to SparkNotes, a
website that provides free chapter-by-chapter summaries of almost any reading we had,
and I even skimmed through those because I didnt want to read them all the way
through. Was I being lazy? Yes, of course. This was not the only reason why I failed so
miserably in my English classes. My perception of reading as a whole completely
impacted the effort I put into it. Before learning more about literacy in Ed Block, I
thought that it was all about reading and writing. During the literacy curriculum in my
Mr. Michaels 12th grade English class, we were assigned to read huge chapter books and
write 10 page essays on them. I now understand that literacy should not and cannot be

Running Head: Literacy Across the Curriculum


just a single curriculum in an English class. Literacy must be balanced and embedded
into every single subject of every single lesson.
Reading is much more than being able to read words on a page. To be a good
reader, you first shop around for books that spark an interest. To do this, you read the
summary on the back. It is helpful to even begin reading the first few pages to see if the
author hooks you, and to explore the language to see if its a good fit for you. Good
readers predict and inferthese terms are similar, but not the same. To infer is to draw
conclusions through using clues that the author provides. Predicting is more like reading
between the lines. Inferences and predictions allow students to process information in a
deeper way. Its like trying to solve a mystery, not by simply guessing, but using the facts
given to make an educated hypothesis. Perfectly put, Both inferences and predictions
require students to combine clues, evidence, and background knowledge to form a
theory (TeachThought).
After learning much more about literacy, I realized that it is so much more than
just reading and writing. There are 6 key language arts listed in the article, Balanced
Literacy Essentials by Michelann Parr and Terry Campbell. They include listening,
speaking, reading, writing, viewing, and representing. At the Whitfield School, I
observed a pottery class where the teacher posts a word of the day every morning
routine. I saw a math class that was solving many word problems that required the
students to comprehend what the question was asking and also to write out the answer
correctly.
Reading is about recognizing words, which leads to comprehending what the text
means. Learning how to read generally ends around the 3rd grade, after that, we learn

Running Head: Literacy Across the Curriculum


from reading. It is important for parents to read to their children from a young age. My
parents didnt read to me often, and this greatly affected how my educational experience.

Running Head: Literacy Across the Curriculum


Literacy Across the Curriculum Research Paper: Part 2


Katiana Cokinos
Principia College

Running Head: Literacy Across the Curriculum


"Adolescents entering the adult world in the 21st century will read and write more
than at any other time in human history. They will need advanced levels of literacy to
perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens, and conduct their personal lives."
(Vaca). Its not enough for teachers to focus on the content and covering the material.
Whether its an English, math, science, or even physical education, literacy must be part
of the curriculum. Literacy is how we teach the content. The goal is to work on
communication skills, reading comprehension, and writing skills though all subjects in
school. How can a teacher stand in front of their classroom, talk at the students and
lecture all day, and expect the students to be literate? Teachers must also understand their
own literacy experiences, everything literacy entails, and how to teach it before diving
into it. Teachers and students must grow into literacy together. Parr explains that an
essential for teachers incorporating balanced literacy is knowing yourself within the
context of your own literacy experiences, curriculum expectations, and literacy outcomes
you envision for your students.
Socratic seminars are an excellent way to evaluate and assess each students
learning. Treadway explains Socratic seminars as a technique that dates back to ancient
times offers a tangible, engaging way for students to develop both ethics and critical
thinkingactively and cooperatively. However, a teacher cant jump straight into a
class Socratic seminar; this kind of classroom activity requires a lot of scaffolding. A
good way to set the students up for success is to hold many small group and pair
discussions. This may include think-pair-shares, projects, and presentations. These oral
skills must be built into every lesson the teacher gives to the students.

Running Head: Literacy Across the Curriculum


Students should be writing every day in the classroom. It doesnt have to be 3-5
page essays every time; instead, students can write reflections, exit cards, one-minute
essays, or stop and jots. Teachers should consistently hold writing workshops, to work
with students on phonics and phonemic awareness. Modeled writing is a great way for
the class to work together to complete a writing activity.
All teachers, no matter the subject, are reading instructors whether they realize it
or not. It is so important to differentiate and create intentional activities when it comes to
reading. EDUtopia states, Scaffolding the reading by using effective strategies for pre-,
during, and after reading, such as: previewing text, reading for a purpose, making
predictions and connections, think-alouds, and using graphic organizers will support all
our students, and not just struggling readers and English learners. No matter what age
the students are, every one can benefit from a read-aloud. Teachers should host small
group guided reading, to work with students more closely on their reading
comprehension, decoding, and fluency.
Textbooks are a great resource to collect data and learn background information
on a subject, but this should not be the only thing that students read. There are so many
options. Most teachers tend to stick to the textbook, constantly referring and even using it
as a script for homework and to conduct their lessons and classwork. Students should be
reading the newspaper, Times Magazine, and scholarly articles.
The Daily 5 is a literacy structure that allows students to choose from five
different reading and writing opportunities, so that they can work towards their
individualized goals. These choices include: Read to Self, Work on Writing, Read to
Someone, Word Work, Listen to Reading. The idea behind the Daily 5 is to differentiate

Running Head: Literacy Across the Curriculum



literacy learning, and reach each student in a way that suits them, and give them a love
for reading and writing. The Daily 5 provides a variety of ways to host a productive and
highly engaging learning environment. Students will practice their independence and
accountability, and more time will be spent on instruction and less on classroom
management (TheDailyCafe).
The Caf system is a set of specific goals that are delivered through the Daily 5
structure. These 4 key components of successful reading include comprehension,
accuracy, fluency, and expanding vocab. Teachers use The CAFE System to assess,
instruct, and monitor student progress (TheDailyCafe).

Running Head: Literacy Across the Curriculum


Literacy Research Part 3


Katiana Cokinos
Principia College

Running Head: Literacy Across the Curriculum

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Part of the Alton School District, North Elementary is a public school located in
Godfrey, Illinois. Its mission states, North Elementary accepts responsibility that
students will develop essential skills for their grade level by mastering district
curriculum. Highly qualified staff will determine the level of mastery through analysis of
various assessments. Appropriate research-based interventions and enrichment will be
provided to ensure student success (AltonSchoolDistrict). It is a diverse school serving
grades 2 to 5 of students from many unique backgrounds and home lives
I was impressed with the literacy implemented in the curriculum of Ms. Drostes
second grade class. Ms. Droste incorporates literacy in her classroom by following the
concepts of the Daily 5. Students rotate through the stations throughout each week, every
day. The environment in the classroom is highly productive during this time. Since this is
routinely for the students, they know what is expected of them. They know to keep their
voices down and to be focused on their work without distracting others, and they have
been very obedient to these rules.
My role, during this learning time, is to lead the Word Work station. The Daily
CAF explains their goal of the Word Work station is the kinesthetic and visual practice
of words. The students sit around my horseshoe table, and everybody has their own dry
erase board and marker, including me. I choose a spelling word from that weeks list, out
of the order the students are used to abiding by. To engage the students, I thought to have
them draw lines on their boards to create three sections: the word, the word used in a
sentence, and a drawing. This allows them to not only have to know how to spell the
word, but how to apply it through visuals and scenarios. I also test them on using the
plural words of those spelling words. For example, I had the children spell the word

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knife, draw a picture of a knife, and create a sentence, such as, I use a knife to cut my
steak. Then, I asked them to do the same thing, except this time, they are talking about
multiple knives. Every student spelled it as knifes. I corrected them, and made sure to
make it clear why we change the f to a v. The Daily CAF states, Word Work is not
a spelling program, it is merely the time to practice moving words into long term
memory. I ensured that each student went beyond knowing how to spell the words.
The students have different spelling words every week, including a spelling test
every Friday. Ms. Droste says the word out loud, uses it in a sentence, and the students
write the words on their lined sheets of paper. They have time at the end of each school
day to read a book of their choice to themselves. The also usually listen to an audio book
as a class and follow along with the hardcopies at their desks near the end of the day.
They have a reading comprehension test every Friday to test their understanding of a
book the class has read together each week. The reading tests are multiple choice, and the
teachers usually accept two different answers if the question is general. I worked
individually with Addison, my case study, during this test. Because of her learning
disabilities, the teacher modified the test for her by crossing off one of the responses in
each multiple-choice question, so that she has less to choose from.
I noticed a young boy named Nester who had his head down on his desk as the
rest of the class was reading silently. I called him over to ask why he wasnt reading. I
hate reading, he said. I couldnt get a definite answer out of him as to why he doesnt
enjoy reading, until I asked him if the book is of interest to him. He then said, It is way
too hard for me this book was required for the class to read. I asked him if it would be
more fun to read it out loud to me, and he said Yes. He read began to read out loud, and

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he was much more engaged. I assisted him with the words he didnt know and the words
he couldnt pronounce. I have questioned before whether this boy has dyslexia before,
because I noticed many words on his spelling test that had mixed up letters, letters written
backwards, and words written that werent even being tested on. In this classroom, his
needs are not being met, probably because the Ms. Droste doesnt realize he is dyslexic.
This is most likely because she just does not have the time to pay close attention to every
single student. Or, maybe she doesnt have the resources to help this child. There are 4
IEP students in her class, and about 5 students who do not qualify for IEP but deal with
learning challenges. However, as an intern who is only there for only a few weeks, I am
doing my best to give these students the individual help they need.
Most of the other children in the class seem to really enjoy reading. There is a
small carpet area in the class that is available for students to lie down on while they are
reading. Addison, who is on the spectrum and has severe anxiety and ADHD absolutely
loves to read. While the class was watching Scooby-Doo, she pulled out her book.
Shes been dying to read all day, says Ms. Droste. Struggling readers and IEP students
go to Title every day, where students meet with a reading specialist and specifically work
on reading and reading comprehension. I believe that the amount of literacy the teacher
incorporates in her everyday lessons has an impact on the childrens love for reading.
Before my internship, I had very little understanding and was intimidated about
how literacy could be incorporated in everyday curriculums. I didnt even understand
what literacy was, as I thought it was only reading and writing. I now understand the
importance of literacy and know that as a teacher, I will incorporate literacy into
everything I teach.

Running Head: Literacy Across the Curriculum


Literacy Across the Curriculum Research Paper: Part 4


Katiana Cokinos
Principia College

13

Running Head: Literacy Across the Curriculum

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I am well pleased with the literacy I witnessed imbedded into the daily routine in
Ms. Drostes second grade classroom. Even if the morning work presented on the
students desks upon their arrival every day was a math worksheet, literacy was somehow
apart of it. For example, a common morning work practice would consist of completing
math problems and coloring the space where the answers appeared to the corresponding
colors. A box on the left side of the sheet offered the word problems. This activated their
reading comprehension skills, requiring them to analyze the text to figure out what the
problem was asking and having to figure out how to solve it.
That wasnt all for literacy. Everyday after lunchtime, students would grab their
bucket of books and read silently to themselves. The books that were in their bucket were
books specifically unique to each students reading level and skills, assessed each week
by the teacher. At the end of each week, students would come up to Ms. Drostes desk,
one by one, and read to her as she evaluated their readiness to move up to the next level,
or adjust their books to a lower level. Students in the class were all over the spectrum of
reading levels, and I admired that their needs were met in this way.
Usually at the end of every day, students would either gather at the rug and the
assistant teacher would read a book to them, or they would stay at their desks and follow
along while listening to an audio book. So much reading was happening throughout the
day, and literacy was implemented well into the curriculum in different forms in order to
meet each student where they are.
Spelling tests are given every Friday, and Ms. Droste well prepares her class for
it. Students are given the list at the beginning of every week, and the class reviews each
word together through discussing the spelling of the word and how to use it in a sentence.

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The spelling words are practiced through the different centers, games, morning work, and
homework.
Through my observation of the importance of literacy in the daily routine of the
second grade classroom, I wanted to add to it through the lessons I created. Ms. Droste
encouraged me to create my own lessons instead of handing me a boring, pre-made
lesson to teach the class. I decided to plan my first lesson on November 10th, so I could
plan my lesson around the topic of Veterans Day. I began my lesson with choosing a
student to read my agenda and objectives. The class objective was, To learn more about
Veterans Day and why we celebrate it. Then, I had the students write on an index card
anything they already know about Veterans Day, with a guided question on the board,
What is Veterans Day and why do we celebrate it? This warm up was solely for the
purpose of activating schema and finding out what the students already know. I soon
found out that this didnt work for the class. Many students had no idea what to write, or
what I was asking. I now look back and wish I had led a class discussion instead of
immediate independent work on, for some, a foreign topic. The biggest literacy piece I
added into my lesson was the reading comprehension worksheet, which provided a few
brief paragraphs of general information about Veterans Day, with questions about the
reading. I instructed the students to read the text twice before answering the questions. I
now wish we read it as a class before doing independent work; I didnt anticipate the
frustration and difficulty the students had with this worksheet. It was an on-level second
grade worksheet, very similar to reading comprehension worksheets often given by Ms.
Droste. Many students had difficulty finding the answers. Once I pointed it out to them,
the light bulb came on. Some students had trouble comprehending the questions about the

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reading, resulting in writing an answer that didnt correspond to the reading. This activity
opened my eyes to the skillset of each student. Because of the fact that they are all on
different levels of reading, I had some students who breezed through and many students
who constantly were begging for my help. I learned a big lesson because of this activity,
and knew how to adjust for my second lesson later. I brought the students to the rug to
watch a fun, Madagascar-themed video about Veterans Day, which was a safe and fun
activity I didnt have any doubts about. They absolutely loved the video. Understanding
that literacy isnt all about reading, I incorporated a writing activity into the latter portion
of my lesson. We wrote letters to real veterans, wishing them a happy holiday and
thanking them for their service. I modeled the set up for the letter on the board,
discussing with the class where the date goes, how to begin the letter, and how to close.
Although I was disappointed with the outcome of my first lesson, I had a clear idea and
was excited about the changes I was planning to make for my second lesson.
There was about a weeks time in between the two lessons I taught. After my first
lesson, I observed Ms. Drostes classroom management style more closely, and noticed
her methods to set her students up for success. I figured out what works for her class, and
modified the way I wished to teach to get the outcome I wanted. Ms. Droste previously
explained that holidays always creep up on her, and she usually forgets to squeeze in
lessons about the current holidays. I thought it was a great opportunity to focus my
second lesson around the Thanksgiving holiday.
I begin with calling on students to read the agenda and objectives. The objective
for the lesson was, To use what we already know about Thanksgiving to complete some
fun activities. The first activity was a read-aloud story to the class: A Plump and Perky

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Turkey by Teresa Bateman. I kept a close eye on the students; especially those who chose
to sit at the desks, to make sure they were engaged and paying attention. I moved some
students around and made sure everyone could see the pictures. I read the book in a loud
and narrative tone, reading sideways and showing the pictures before turning to the next
pages. I asked a few questions to the class as the story progressed to keep them engaged.
I instructed the class to raise their hands, to sit on their bottoms, to site up, and to save
their ideas for the end. This read-aloud was a hit. The class loved the book, they were
entertained, and it was a fun way to incorporate literacy into my lesson.
When we finished, the class turned their attention to the board, where I played a
short Thanksgiving cartoon. Because showing a video in my first lesson was successful, I
knew it would have a similar outcome for this one. They enjoyed the video so much that
they clapped at the end.
The last part of my lesson was the best part: we disguised turkeys. I showed them
a model turkey that I disguised into a doctor. I showed them what elements I drew in
order to effectively disguise it. As a class, we came up with many different ways we
could disguise our turkeys. The class shouted out ideas as I wrote on the board: a football
player, a ballerina, a spy, a basketball player, a teacher, a princess, ect. Many students
ended up thinking of their own disguise, which is something I encouraged them to do.
They got started on their coloring and I assessed their behavior to figure out a good time
to turn on some Christmas music, songs that they have been practicing for their music
concert. I held off for a bit of time before turning it on, but once the noise level was down
I put it on. All of the students were singing and dancing while doing their work. I was so
relieved.

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At the end, those who wished to present their turkeys did so in front of the class.
Speaking is a huge part in literacy. It is important for the children to be able to organize
their ideas and learning and be able to put it into words. Most of the students came up to
the front, and the class applauded each one.
Students should love to read. Literacy must be apart of the everyday routine of
every classroom of every grade level. It must be differentiated into different mediums in
order to reach the needs of each diverse learner. Literacy is not just an English lesson to
be given once a week. It is a lifestyle that needs to be practiced through all activities. My
internship experience opened my eyes to this realization and convinced me that if I am
going to be a teacher, this is what needs to happen in my classroom.

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Work Cited
Alber, R. (2011, May 24). 6 Scaffolding Strategies to Use With Your Students. Retrieved
December 05, 2016, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/scaffolding-lessons-sixstrategies-rebecca-alber
Boushey, G., & Moser, J. (n.d.). Daily 5. Retrieved December 05, 2016, from
https://www.thedailycafe.com/daily-5
H. (2013, October 17). The Difference Between Inference & Prediction. Retrieved
December 05, 2016, from
http://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/literacy/difference-between-inferenceprediction/
North Elementary. (n.d.). Retrieved December 05, 2016, from
http://north.altonschools.org/
Parr, M., & Campbell, T. (2012). Balanced Literacy Essentials: Weaving Theory into
Practice for Successful Instruction in Reading, Writing, and Talk. Markham, Ont.:
Pembroke.
Tredway, L. (1995, September). Socratic Seminars: Engaging Students in Intellectual
Discourse. Retrieved December 05, 2016, from
http://www.ascd.org/publications/educationalleadership/sept95/vol53/num01/Socratic-Seminars@-Engaging-Students-inIntellectual-Discourse.aspx
Vacca, R. T., Vacca, J. A., & Mraz, M. E. (2011). Content area reading: Literacy and
learning across the curriculum. Boston: Pearson.