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“Disciplinary literacy is based on the premise that students can develop deep conceptual knowledge in a discipline only by using the habits of reading, writing, talking, and thinking which that discipline values and uses.” Stephanie McConachie

As educators, we are fortunate to celebrate the New Year twice a year—once in August and again in January.  Both New Year celebrations are a time to reflect on our practice and renew our learning to find ways to support students in the classroom. 
As you approach the spring semester of the school year, consider investing some time exploring the S2TEM Centers SC Disciplinary Literacy Virtual Library. This free resource contains strategies, lessons, and resources for educators-use these tools to engage your students in reading, writing, and dialogue around STEM content.

In a recent coaching conversation, a middle school science teacher (Mr. J) shared concern about student engagement in his classroom as students were learning new content by reading informational text.  To combat this challenge, we selected the following strategies from the disciplinary literacy virtual library to test in his classroom:

Partner (Paired) Reading – Mr. J had been encouraging students to learn content from informational text often in his classroom.  His preferred strategy was a whole group read-aloud where students take turns reading one paragraph each while others read along in the text.  This had resulted in quite a bit of classroom management issues with students who were not listening to the reader.  Mr. J decided to try the Partner (Paired) Reading strategy instead.  Students were divided into pairs and pairs took turns reading the passage aloud.  Instead of one student engaged in reading at any moment, now half of the students in the classroom were engaged in reading.

Say Something – Now that the class was engaged in reading the informational text passage, Mr. J also wanted to make sure that students were thinking about the text and processing what they had read.  He selected to add Say Something to his Partner Reading as a dialogue strategy for students to use as they processed small chunks of information, one paragraph at a time.  As one partner read a paragraph from the text out loud, the other student listened carefully.  At the end of each paragraph, each partner would “say something” in reaction to the text.

Graphic Organizer – Last, Mr. J wanted to make sure that students had a record of their learning from the text for their own self-assessment and for his formative assessment of their learning from the Partner Reading.  He created a Graphic Organizer for student pairs to complete after their reading to summarize their learning.

With these three strategies, Mr. J created an expectation for all students to engage in reading and processing informational text through partner work instead of whole class work.  What challenges are you experiencing in your classroom that might be combated through the use of disciplinary literacy strategies?

As you try new strategies in your classroom, remember that they may also be new to your students who will need time to learn to use them.  How might you plan to introduce strategies to students to support them as they are learning new ways to learn?

Gain deeper insights into disciplinary literacy and the strategies by completing the free self-paced Professional Learning Modules.  The six modules are one of four components in the Disciplinary Literacy Virtual Library.  Each modules provides 5-6 lessons on the identified topic for you to complete at your own pace.

Disciplinary Literacy Strategies:  IQMS Virtual Library
McConachie, Stephanie, Megan Hall, Lauren Resnick, Anita K. Ravi, Victoria L. Bill, Jody Bintz, and Joseph A. Taylor. Task, Text, and Talk: Literacy for All Subjects. Alexandria: ASCD, 2009. Print.
South Carolina's Coalition for Mathematics & Science, in conjunction with the SC Afterschool Alliance and Smithsonian Science Education Center, is pleased to announce the dates for the 2016 Next Steps Institute:  "The Next Steps for STEM Learning and Leadership In and Out of School" will be held September 26 - 28, 2016 at the Charleston Convention Center in Charleston, South Carolina.  Save the date, details coming soon.

Upcoming Events

January 20 - March 30, 2016
Understanding Measurement in the Elementary Classroom:  Teaching from a Student Centered Perspective
Online Course
January 20 - March 30, 2016
Content and Applications for Middle Level Mathematics with a Student Centered Perspective
Online Course
January 20 - March 30, 2016
Understanding Geometry: Teaching from a Student Centered Perspective
Online Course

January 20 - March 30, 2016
Algebra I:  Content and Connections
Online Course

February - March, 2016
SC Science Instructional Materials Adoption Workshops
Various Dates and Locations

February 6, 2016
Charleston STEM Festival
Charleston, SC

February 22, 2016
This School's Got STEM Contest - Submit Entries

February 26, 2016 K-5 Curriculum Workshop
Spartanburg,, SC 29303

March 10, 2016 K-5 Curriculum Workshop
Rock Hill, SC

March 23, 2016
Lowcountry Regional STEM Symposium
Trident Technical College, N. Charleston, SC
April 2, 2016
iMAGINE Upstate Festival
Greenville, SC

September 26 - 28, 2016
Next Step Institute:  "Next Steps for STEM Learning and Leadership In and Out of School"
Charleston Convention Center
Charleston, SC
To learn more about STEM events and opportunities, visit STEM Linx.

What S2TEM Centers SC clients say about their Professional Learning Experience...

"The educator participants enjoyed the workshop and seemed to get a lot out of it. Based on their questions and responses, PBL is a need in the community, and understanding how the PBL process really works and progresses is critical."

Cynthia Hall, College of Charleston
Professional Support Services
The PBL approach is inspiring and I am excited to try this in my classroom.
Elizabeth Coffey, Teacher
Timberland HS, Berkeley CSD
PBL for Science Fair

Copyright © 2016 South Carolina's Coalition for Mathematics & Science at Clemson University, All rights reserved.

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