• Brookline’s Disciplinary Literacy Initiative: Exploring Ways to Support Literacy Across the Curriculum

    What do students need to know and be able to do in order to successfully read, write, speak and listen across different content areas? How can teachers work together to teach literacy across the curriculum to deepen content understanding? These are some of the questions that an interdisciplinary team of 6th-9th grade teachers is currently working on as part of the Brookline Disciplinary Literacy Initiative (DLI).

    Recognizing the need to help students navigate the literacy demands in content areas, PreK-8 coordinators Joanna Lieberman (English), Janet MacNeil (Science), and Geoff Tegnell (Social Studies) put their heads together to create the DLI project. This work is generously funded by grants from the Brookline Education Foundation (BEF) and Boston University (BU) School of Education Consortium Council. It builds on the very successful Content Reading Initiative at Brookline High School that was funded by the Brookline Innovation Fund.

    36 teachers and coordinators from Baker, Heath, Lawrence, Lincoln, Peirce, Runkle, and Brookline High School are participating. The group includes teachers of Educational Technology, English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Enrichment/Challenge and Support, and World Language teachers as well as literacy specialists, librarians, and special educators.

    The team is learning about disciplinary literacy from nationally-recognized experts Christina Dobbs (BU) and Jacy Ippolito (Salem State University), pursuing inquiry-based projects of in school-based teams, applying what they learn in their classrooms, and sharing with and giving feedback to each other. Some of the professional learning topics include how to support students with reading comprehension, academic language/vocabulary, academic discussions, and writing in different disciplines. The inquiry projects are focusing on questions such as: How are literacy strategies the same or different across the curriculum? How and why do we read, write, speak and listen as Scientists? Mathematicians? Historians? Authors? What should we consider when choosing texts and other media for students? How can we work together to help students learn key academic language across content areas?

    In its second year, the DLI project has expanded to also explore how to create a consistent and coherent transition in literacy support from middle school to BHS in all content areas. To help pursue this goal, a 9th grade BHS team has joined the group. In addition, opportunities for learning, sharing and cross-pollination of ideas between the original BHS Content Reading Initiative team and the DLI team will be provided to ensure a consistent approach across schools.