19 Jan 2022By Ellie Ashton
Disciplinary literacy webinar: Miss Ashton reflects
In our webinar on Wednesday 19th January, we discussed disciplinary literacy and subject-specific vocabulary!
- Why is disciplinary literacy important?
- How is it supported by research?
- What next steps can we take to improve disciplinary literacy in the classroom?
To demonstrate the importance of disciplinary literacy, I used examples of GCSE exam papers from across 9 subjects.
These show the broad diet of reading strategies that students encounter daily and in exams. For example, in English papers, exam questions feature analytical reading – in maths and science papers, reading strategies involve visual representations of data.
More examples can be found in the webinar slides, available at the bottom of the page.
How is disciplinary literacy supported by research?
Subject-specific support and disciplinary literacy are highlighted by the Education Endowment Foundation as important for improving literacy, supported by Shanahan and Shanahan who identified that “different reading strategies” are needed and have proven that explicitly teaching these can result in better outcomes.
All of the research featured in my webinar works together to reinforce that improving literacy takes a subject-specific approach!
Kerry Cawsey from Stockport Academy discussed reading strategies and the implementation of subject-specific reading across the school, with support from department literacy representatives. In response to this, Katie Vince shared in a comment that in her school, Department Literacy Reps champion subject-specific vocabulary across the curriculum. This is a great idea!
Jennifer Lacey and Chris Teese from Archers Brook School shared ideas around mapping subject-specific vocabulary using schemes of work, word mats and resource packs for students alongside the use of Bedrock Mapper.
What did we find out about attitudes towards disciplinary literacy?
We asked our participants: How confident do you feel that you fully understand disciplinary literacy?
38% of teachers stated they know a little, but were keen to know more. 18% were not confident at all. In fact, 0 of our attendees stated they felt very confident about disciplinary literacy! At the end of the webinar, 88% of attendees felt more confident on disciplinary literacy than before, which is fantastic!
For me, this highlighted a need for more disciplinary literacy CPD within schools. That’s why I have made the templates and resources on my slides free for schools to use as part of their CPD! Please find the slides as a PDF at the bottom of the page.
The best thing about these webinar spaces is that it provides room for people to learn from each other. I really enjoyed hearing about other schools’ literacy journey and their strategies to create language-rich communities – it was really inspirational!
Whether connecting about disciplinary literacy is done through CPD, Bedrock Mapper or webinar spaces, teachers are more passionate than ever to make disciplinary literacy a priority for their students – and now they can use a beautiful tree template to do it!