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Strategies for Reading and Writing in Content Areas

A common mantra among reading teachers is: "Good readers ask questions!"

Even the youngest students are being taught reading comprehension strategies – not simply decoding text. These strategies can and should be used as content area reading strategies as well.

With a Master of Education, you will learn how to develop content area reading strategies to help students grasp basic and challenging concepts.

Content-area teachers need to provide a variety of texts to ensure students are able to read at their own level. Likewise, literature teachers can use science and social studies materials to practice content area reading strategies in their classrooms. Using these strategies will also allow teachers to better assess how well students are grasping the subject matter.

Teachers should plan on modeling each strategy, and allowing plenty of group and independent practice for students. Here are some content area reading strategies:

  • Identifying main ideas and details
  • Comparing and contrasting
  • Determining cause and effect
  • Classifying
  • Summarizing
  • Inferring
  • Drawing conclusions
  • Asking questions

Many of these strategies can be used during cooperative learning activities as well. Two to try are:

KWL Charts (Know-Want to Know-Learned)

K – Before reading, students write all of the things they know already about the topic.
W- Students look through the text at any photos, charts or bold words, and write what they want to find out from reading.
L- After reading, students note what they have learned.
These charts can also be done on large paper as a whole class or in small groups.

Vocabulary Sort

Before reading the text, students are given key concept vocabulary words to sort into categories. After reading the text, students are asked to sort the words again. Teachers can use this as a way to quickly see what vocabulary needs to be pre-taught, as well as a follow-up assessment for comprehension.

By using content area reading strategies, teachers are giving students the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of content material, as well as higher-level thinking skills that will be the key to success throughout their school years.

Learn more about the Columbus State online M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership degree program.


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