Literacy in the Disciplines

Every discipline has characteristic literacy practices related to the ways of thinking, talking, and doing that are particular to that discipline. The capacities to deal with dense, challenging disciplinary texts run hand in hand with students capacities to grapple with the content knowledge, skills and dispositions required by a discipline. The territorial “Literacy in the Disciplines” initiative comes from the Key Competencies Action Area of the NWT Education Renewal Action Plan. 

The central action within this initiative is the Reading Apprenticeship Institute (WestEd). Regional teams of educators learn together at the Institute and then continue learning as they reflect on their experiences recognizing and modelling for students the practices of expert disciplinary readers and writers. Most importantly, teachers work to refine the practices that let students do this for themselves. The Reading Apprenticeship framework encourages students to build a positive reader identity, utilize one another as resources, problem solve through difficulty and build knowledge of content and the world. At the heart of Reading Apprenticeship is the metacognitive conversation. Teachers support students to voice their confusions, identify their literacy processes and share ideas to expand their interactions with disciplinary texts and discourses.

For furthering understanding…

Watch the six minute video on the NWT Literacy in the Disciplines initiative:

Below: Rita Jensen’s Grade 9 students encounter a new poem in their English Language Arts class. The video shows close-up examples of students’ annotations and illustrates how Reading Apprenticeship routines such as “Talk to the Text” builds engagement and helps students identify reading problems and questions for collaborative investigation.

Below: Listen to Cynthia Greenleaf, WestEd, discuss what propelled her to develop Reading Apprenticeship. As Cynthia Greenleaf tells it, when she and Ruth Schoenbach made a foray into project-based learning, many years ago. They were shocked to discover that many students could not read the tantalizing texts assembled to engage them. The pair’s response was to found the Strategic Literacy Initiative and begin developing Reading Apprenticeship.