Celebrating Inquiry: Spring 2016 v.2 no.2

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Incorporating Literacy Across Curricula….. Jaylene Reitsema

Inquiry Question: How Can I Better Incorporate Literacy into Social Studies and Science Curriculum?



Literacy is an educational building block that students must master in order to be able to comprehend material at higher grades. Teaching students to read is therefore the primary focus of early elementary educators. It is beneficial for students to incorporate literacy into all aspects of the curriculum, rather than solely focusing on reading during language arts class time. During my third professional semester, I explored the best methods of incorporating literacy into Social Studies and Science curriculum. I also explored some of the best literature that is currently available in my school, university and public libraries.


To incorporate literacy throughout Social Studies, I began with the Calgary Board of Education’s Grade 2 Literature Connections (http://www.learnalberta.ca/content/sslc/pdf/literatureconnections_gr02.pdf). I checked my school’s library, the University of Lethbridge library, and the public library to determine availability of the suggested books. Through conversations with teachers and librarians, I was able to add books to the list. I made these books available to my students in themed book baskets, read portions to students, and referenced them during my teaching.

I did not have the same starting point with Science, so relied more heavily on conversations with teachers and librarians. The non-fiction section of the school library was very helpful to me as I was easily able to access books on the topic we were currently studying. I also made these books available to students in themed book baskets and referenced them during my teaching.


Throughout my practicum, I found that providing access to relevant texts was engaging for students. Students enjoyed the books, talked about them with their friends, referenced them during class, and asked if they could have more time with them. In order to make book baskets effective, it is important that the teacher have read the books and made reference to them during teaching. This will build more interest in students as they will wonder what other information the books have. Students also enjoy talking about what they have read with someone who has also read the book.

Giving students the opportunity to write about their learning is another useful life skill. Not only does it build literacy, it requires students to be metacognitive about their learning. When students think about their own thinking, they become more articulate and better able to explain what they know. Students clearly understood surface tension because they had observed it multiple times and written about it, making that term part of their vocabulary.

Today’s students cannot imagine a world where books were our only source of information. Teaching students literacy through online sources is an engaging life skill. Students may balk at reading a book, but when they are given the same information on a website, they are entranced. I believe that when we meet students where their interests are, we can use that as a starting point and then introduce them to other ways to access information.

The truth is, school is reading, and the more we can demonstrate the importance of reading and the enjoyment reading provides, the more students will want to read. When students learn to love reading, nothing will stop their learning.

Jaylene has a passion for literature. She enjoys reading aloud to her children and sharing with them the books that she enjoyed as a child. Jaylene believes that teaching children how to read is a very important and rewarding challenge.