High-Quality Trade Books and Content Areas: Planning Accordingly for Rich Instruction

High-Quality Trade Books and Content Areas: Planning Accordingly for Rich Instruction

Carolyn A. Groff (Independent Researcher, Switzerland)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9631-8.ch003

Abstract

Integrating high-quality children's tradebooks into elementary content areas has long been considered a best practice. When teachers choose to incorporate these texts into content area lessons, they are exposing students to art through the pictures and reaching an array of visual learners. There is a delicate balance between teaching the literacy strategies needed to read these texts and the actual content materials that students need to learn in the STEAM areas. This chapter explores how to incorporate texts appropriately into content area lessons so that students can focus on the content, as well as apply literacy strategies for comprehension.
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Literature Review

Literacy and content area learning are in a constant state of change. According to Adams and Pegg (2012), “one dimension relates to shifting understandings regarding student learning, and the other dimension involves the relationship between content and literacy” (p. 151). Citing the work of previous researchers, Adams and Pegg argue that discipline-specific discourse can be taught through literacy practices; that is, the way the students talk about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) can be learned through literacy practices in the classroom. Moreover, because discipline-specific discourse is used by authors to create informational texts, using such texts can lead to increased understanding in content areas.

Integrating high-quality children’s trade books into elementary content areas has long been considered a best-practice (Olness, 2007). More specifically, high-quality informational texts can assist students in learning STEM concepts. Using these texts with rich visuals and vocabulary forges a link between the arts and the STEM focus, creating the use of STEAM. Yopp and Yopp (2012) state that students’ engagement with informational texts more richly promotes their knowledge of content areas by teaching them vocabulary, text structure (such as compare and contrast), and text features (such as charts and tables). Teachers must be able to merge their selection of high-quality informational texts and scaffolded instructional models in order for students’ experiences to be successful (Fisher & Frey, 2015). Fisher and Frey (2015) state that “as students invest themselves in these informational texts, look for opportunities to encourage ways to inspire further investigation, discussion, and writing” (p. 529). However, for pre-service teacher candidates and novice teachers, planning for the blend of literacy and other content areas may not come naturally (Hoffman, Collins, & Schickedanz, 2015). Citing prior research, Hoffman, Collins, and Schickedanz (2015) state the following with regard to science instruction:

Research on effectively integrating science and literacy instruction to develop conceptual understandings uses informational text as a complement to hands- on scientific investigations in the science curriculum, not as a replacement for such experiences (Palincsar & Magnusson, 2001; Pappas & Varelas, 2004; Varelas & Pappas, 2006). Thus, informational texts are most meaning fully integrated in literacy instruction when they align with the ongoing science curriculum (i.e., the texts are related to the scientific concepts investigated in hands- on experiences). (pp. 368-9).

The lesson plan template provided in this chapter is meant to assist teacher candidates and practicing teachers in preparing for the integration of high-quality informational texts into STEM content area lessons, focusing on the integration of visual information and concept development.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Misconceptions: Ideas that students hold about concepts which are inaccurate or false, especially in the scientific sense.

Reading and Writing Strategies: The application of purposeful and metacognitive ways of thinking to assist one with language arts tasks.

Linguistic Cueing Systems: Sound-symbol, structural, grammatical and meaning relationships that aid a reader, writer, speaker or listener in processing language.

High-Quality Children’s Trade Books: Books with rich vocabulary and complex structure, as well as thought-provoking and exciting visuals.

Mentor Text: The main text used to teach a whole-group lesson to students of varying ability levels.

Elementary Content Areas: All subjects taught in elementary grades (language arts, math, science, social studies, world language, music, art, health, and physical education).

Content Area Integration: The combining of two or more elementary content areas during a lesson plan or unit.

Visual Learning: Learning through viewing pictorial representations.

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