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If the goal of any discipline is to enhance knowledge and inquiry within its boundaries, then it follows that reading, writing, and language must serve as tools that help teachers and students achieve those disciplinary goals. Clearly, reading and writing are critical tools for participating in day-to-day living in the world as well as for participating in any disciplinary community. By their very nature, reading, writing, and talking cross both disciplinary and topical boundaries; as such, they are critical tools or mechanisms for supporting thought and learning. 

– Alison Billman & P. David Pearson

Welcome to ED255/452: Literacy Across the Curriculum 

Course Description |  This course focuses on understanding two kinds of literacy: content-area literacy, which are the features of literacy that work similarly across academic disciplines, and disciplinary literacy, which are the features of literacy that are specific to the four core disciplines—language arts, science, social studies, and math.  Course goals focus on how identities, texts, activities, and discussions are related to students’ literacy development and how they organize learning in each discipline.

Rationale | The big questions for this course are:

  1. Why is it critical that we teach “reading” in all subject areas? And
  2. How can we use literacy instruction to enhance disciplinary learning for all students?

To facilitate our exploration of these questions, ED255 will focus on the roles of literacy and literacy instruction in the content areas at the elementary, middle and secondary levels of schooling. ED255 students will learn and practice multiple research-based teaching frameworks, techniques and instructional strategies designed to enhance content area learning. Emphasis will be on the integration of subject matter and disciplinary literacy practices. Through a combination of collaborative and independent reading, writing, conversation, and inquiry, we will consider how the disciplines operate as Discourse communities situated in systems of power, and how, at its heart, disciplinary literacy is critical literacy. My ultimate goal for this course is for each of you to be prepared to help students effectively use reading in combination with other dimensions of literacy as they learn to navigate the disciplines. These dimensions of literacy are echoed in the Ohio Learning Standards.

ED255 Tuesday 5:00pm-7:40pm | OC212

Professor David Shutkin, Ph.D.

Office Hours (online)

M/W 3:30pm-4:30pm
T/R 2:00pm-4:00pm

And by appointment

Course Website https://exploringeducation.org/

Required Textbook

  • Muhammad, Gholdy. 2020. Cultivating Genius. New York: Scholastic.
  • Lent, Releah. 2020. This is Disciplinary Literacy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Literacy.
  • Kuhn, Melanie and Dreher, Mariam. 2020. Developing Conceptual Knowledge Through Oral and Written Language. New York: Guilford.


Course Learning Outcomes, Students will…

Develop an understanding of how disciplines impact literacy practices:

  • Recognize that the concept of content literacy is directly related to the ability to use reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing for the acquisition of new knowledge in a specific discipline.
  • Read and write in a variety of genres and modes as a way of understanding and modeling how comprehension occurs.
  • Familiarize ourselves with various texts, both narrative and expository, that can be used to teach effectively various content areas.
  • Reflect on our learning as a means of determining the role of metacognition in comprehension.

Consider how to provide equitable sense-making experiences for all students:

  • Recognize one of our goals as teaching professionals is to help all students learn content while developing the literacy and thinking skills necessary to become independent, lifelong learners.
  • Understand that cultural, linguistic, cognitive, and diverse learner factors influence reading comprehension and subject area learning.

Design instruction which weaves together literacy learning and content learning:

  • Design balanced literacy instruction that includes reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing and word study activities across the curriculum.
  • Incorporate literacy strategies for a variety of text structures, including textbooks, and incorporate them appropriately into the design of instructional materials.
  • Incorporate technology into literacy learning and instruction; explore ways to integrate innovative technologies with the language arts and content area learning.
  • Develop and present a lesson using a specific learning strategy described in our course texts.


Students are expected to attend classes in person as usual, unless notified by the instructor. If you need to isolate due to a positive COVID-19 test or quarantine due to exposure, please contact me ASAP. Be prepared to share official documentation from a doctor or the Health Center. Depending on the circumstances, I will decide how to proceed with the individual affected (online, Zoom, email, phone call, etc.) and/or the entire class. Please click here for the most recent student information from the JCU Covid-19 Task Force.


Please bring your laptop to each class to access digital materials. Please silence electronic devices and refrain from texting, making calls, social networking, listening to music, etc. during class. Use of technology not related to class is distracting and may interrupt other students sitting near you.