Literacy in the Content Areas & MLK Freebie

Hello Friends! It's Erin from I'm Lovin' Lit here. I'm wondering if any of you might have had similar experiences with this topic in the past.

During my 11 years of teaching, I have witnessed a revolution in the way literacy is taught in the  content areas.

When I started my teaching career in 1st grade in 2003, they said to keep the reading out of social studies and science content.

They said that it wouldn't be fair to the non-readers.

They said that students who couldn't read or were weak readers would fall behind in other subjects because they couldn't read.

They said to modify my lessons.

They said to keep the reading out of social studies and science.


It sounded good to me. I was very careful to keep the reading and reading skills separate from other content areas.

When I moved up to 4th grade three years later, I taught only reading and social studies. Oh, just imagine the things I could have done with that! But, they had said to keep the literacy out of social studies, right? So, I did. I kept them separate.

Fast forward several years. I'm teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th grade reading, and I'm trying to stay ahead of this whole new Common Core thing.




You mean... I'm supposed to merge reading and the content areas?

Say what?

So, what do YOU do to merge literacy with content areas?

Now that I teach reading only and don't have other content that I'm responsible for like social studies or science, I find that it's actually fun to incorporate those subjects. I'll be the first to tell you (and my students) that I'm just not a "science kinda gal," but you know I love me some social studies, and I collaborate with our social studies teacher every chance I get. In fact, she has taught me SO MUCH about literacy in the content areas just by the way she teaches her lessons. Common Core calls for us to use primary sources, to analyze them and figure out for ourselves what they mean and how history of that time unfolded. And she's been doing that since before Common Core came to town!

One of the easiest ways to incorporate literacy into the content areas is to send my students on fact-gathering missions. Is it always using tons of higher-order thinking skills? No, not always. But it's great practice locating information, synthesizing, paraphrasing, summarizing, skimming, scanning, and READING!

Here's one such activity just in time for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  It's FREE, but only for a limited time, so be sure to download your copy TODAY!


  1. Excellent post friend! Merging literacy and content....hmmm...sounds sort of like "Whole Language"?? The pendulum does swing, and this time...I think we have it right. High level thinking skills, great literature (and a mix of fiction/nonfiction), and a focus on all five strands equals real reading. Thanks for the freebie.

  2. I remember the days of not using literacy in the content areas. How silly! I continued to use it because it made so much more sense to do it! I love, love, love the fun way to get the kids to find facts. Thanks for a fun freebie!
    Reading Toward the Stars

  3. I found using interactive notebooks to be the best way to incorporate literacy in the content areas. You can cover a wide range of skills and strategies that way. I even used a shared reading model with my third graders while using IN. Thanks for sharing a great post

  4. One of the primary schools I worked in here in Australia established a specialist program in Years 6 & 7, where teachers taught English and Maths with their own classes and then the students rotated amongst the five teachers on each year level (5 teachers in Year 6, five teachers in Year 7) for other curriculum areas: Social Studies, Science, Technology, The Arts, and was superb for adding depth to the learning of the students' and gave the teachers time to totally engage the students in the ways of working within their specialist curriculum area and to develop a metalanguage for talking within that curriculum area e.g. reading like an historian, reading like a Scientist, metalanguage for the Arts etc...we had a group of professors from the U.S. visit us and they were so impressed! It is so essential to teach children explicitly that we read differently for different purposes in different subject areas...Kylie

  5. I LOVE teaching content areas with reading! I think it makes everything much more interesting. Thanks for the wonderful freebie!

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