Week 1

Key Themes


The key theme in the article by Gina Biancarosa focused on students making the transition from basic literacy to higher level literacy and the challenges that follow. There were three challenges highlighted in the text: mastering increasingly difficult text, understanding the distinctions among reading in different content areas, and reading digital content. As students move forward from elementary to high school, the texts they are given have increasingly complex vocabulary, longer sentences, and less structural design to support comprehension. Text also becomes more distinct and specialized to content area in higher grade levels. In today’s world, students and teachers are also faced with rise of digital media for text interaction. Many of today’s jobs require digital literacy for communication and task completion. Towards the end of the article, the focus shifts to how we support our students through these challenges. Biancarosa suggests  a change in professional development to incorporate explicit teaching norms in the curriculum. As a result, teachers will be able to identify the role literacy plays in their content area and differentiate the material for all learners. It was also suggested that education policy includes more formative and summative assessment of digital and disciplinary literacy.


The key theme in the article by Eppley focused on the 7 traps of common core standards from a sociological mindset. This article addresses the challenges that teachers go through to teach a centralized curriculum in the classroom. While the intent of common core is to provide a non-specialized framework, the reality is that many teachers are pressured to align their curriculums with standardized testing. Towards the end of the article, Eppley gives a clear example of how teachers get trapped within the common core standards. Ideally a teacher must follow the aligned materials, teach students to do the same with text, and train readers to extract information and communicate facts (Eppley, 2015). Teachers are also responsible for the successes and failures of their students and how it relates to their future within a globalized market (Eppley, 2015). To avoid falling into these traps, Eppley suggests looking at the common core standards from a social standpoint. The education system was built to help foster a prosperous society and economy. But the question is, how do we adapt common core to reflect today’s socio-economic landscape?


The key theme in the article by Fang focused on the different approaches used in the development of content area literacy. Each approach provides some opportunity for teachers to differentiate instruction based on the classroom environment. The four that are mentioned - cognitive, sociocultural, linguistic, and critical- all have something to bring to the table. In terms of differentiation, this is an ideal situation. Due to the fact that our system is standardized, we have to provide evidence in the mastery of literacy. The strongest evidence based practice is cognitive,which has been shown to improve reading, writing, and learning skills. Examples of cognitive learning strategies include summarizing and note taking. As education reform is continuing to move forward, we’re seeing that approaches, such as critical, do provide a certain plasticity to a rigid curriculum. The critical approach assumed that all text is value laden and ideological (Fang, 2012). The key takeaway from the text is that each approach needs to be used synergistically in order to further improve adolescent literacy.

What impressed, surprised, and challenged me

The biggest surprise for me was the seven traps of using common core. There were moments when the article hit the nail on the head in terms of implementing a curriculum. The one part of the article that struck me was close reading. According to the article, close reading is understanding the text independent of prior knowledge. Throughout this section, the author details the pitfalls of close reading. Eppley highlights that close reading does not prepare students to engage with the reading and implement the text in a way that improves their social lives. With science in particular, we encourage students to apply their reading to a social context. I want my students to be able to discuss the mechanisms of photosynthesis, and how it applies to their life in New York City. At the same time, as teachers, we want to prepare them for the Regents exams. It’s a battle that I have dealt with specifically because I work at a transfer school. Many of my students are over-age and have minimal time to finish high school. As their educator, I have two jobs related to literacy: prepare them for the real world that’s rapidly approaching, and fill the gaps in their literacy skills and build on them. My biggest focus this semester in the classroom is to incorporate the social aspect of literacy. At my school, we have a heavy emphasis on collaboration in the curriculum. I want to avoid getting trapped in the close reading framework.


ED 656 - Fall 2018

ED 656 - Fall 2018

Here is the online home for Fall 2018.

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