Reading comprehension is a complicated process involving several different parts of the brain. When reading books for content areas such as science, math and social studies, students must use reading strategies and make new connections to information. Increasingly, content teachers must be skilled at teaching reading comprehension as well as content. A master's degree in literacy can help content teachers meet the needs of every student.
How content areas need more literacy skills
In math class today, students are required to read long texts describing real-world issues. Then, they may have to explain and justify their thinking and answers. When students enter science class, they may be required to read biographies of scientists, as well as primary-source documents written in academic language by real scientists. Students must be prepared for this type of content area reading and assessment. Teachers who understand how to help students use different reading strategies depending on the text are likely to be more successful. Earning a master's degree in literacy may help a teacher employ strategies such as think-alouds, literature circles, identifying context clues and re-reading for a stated purpose.
Why teachers with master's degree in literacy may have an edge in their career
When a teacher holds a master's degree in literacy, employers may be more likely to take notice. School leaders want content area teachers who understand how reading and literacy work so that they can help students succeed. Also, teachers who become reading specialists instead of content area teachers can be critical partners in content area reading success. Often, teachers with master's degrees in literacy are called upon to present at in-service trainings and other professional development workshops.
How common note-taking skills can help students across content areas
Though content area teachers need to teach different information than their counterparts, they may be able to help students learn to take notes in similar ways. This common note-taking or use of graphic organizers is one commonly recommended by education researcher Robert Marzano. His theory states that when students can focus on organizing their content area thinking, they are more likely to retain learning. As a student in a master's degree in literacy program, you can also learn about note-taking best practices in content areas such as two-column notes, word clouds, building academic vocabulary and free-form mapping.
There has been a huge focus on making sure that every child learns to read proficiently before the third grade, but there must also be a push to continue to explicitly teach reading comprehension strategies to grade four and beyond. Content area teachers will have to make the time and effort it takes to incorporate reading and writing into science, math and social studies. They will need to know how to model strategies such as questioning, summarizing, comprehension monitoring and using graphic organizers to help readers learn to retain, organize and evaluate the information they read.
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