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This Is Disciplinary Literacy

This Is Disciplinary Literacy
Reading, Writing, Thinking, and Doing . . . Content Area by Content Area

Foreword by Carol Ann Tomlinson

Additional resources:

September 2015 | 232 pages | Corwin

Disciplinary Literacy is about to go from theory to game plan—taking students from superficial understanding to deep content expertise. And guess what? ReLeah Lent’s big secret lies in highlighting each content area’s differences—advancing a discipline-specific model in which literacy is used as a tool for strategic thinking, reading, writing, and doing within each field.

That’s right—no more reading strategies used uniformly across the curriculum. Instead, This Is Disciplinary Literacy helps content-area teachers put into action the key literacies of their specialties. Teaching science? Students must evaluate evidence and question as they read. History? Comparing and contrasting sources and interpreting the import of events are key. Writing in Math? Accuracy is favored over elaboration and craft. Reading fiction in ELA? Synthesizing and attuning to voice and figurative language reign supreme. Students fully own knowledge because your instruction zeroes in on the academic habits that matter most. 

Content area by content area, ReLeah shows how to immediately incorporate these literacies into lessons, units, and project-based learning. Inside you’ll find:

  • “Spotlights” on all major disciplines that highlight how implementation looks in real classrooms 
  • Extend and Adapt sections with ideas for augmenting activities for students who need different challenges or support, tips for companion activities, and digital sources for short texts and video
  • Q&A sections bringing both reassurance and get-it-done advice 
  • New ways to re-boot essential research-based practices that work in any field—reading, writing, inquiry, and collaboration
  • Free companion website featuring a complete PD workshop with PowerPoint slides for ready-to-go professional learning

And best of all, students not only engage in the genuine intellectual challenges of the disciplines—they are eager to do so! This Is Disciplinary Literacy gives students entrance to the global communities of practice, and provides schools, districts, and teachers with a proven approach that makes college-and-career-readiness a reality. 

Featured Book: 
Common Core CPR

Foreword by Carol Ann Tomlinson
Chapter 1. Literacy Within the Disciplines
The Problem With Reading Strategies

Unpacking Disciplinary Literacy

Deeper Learning and Disciplinary Literacy

Disciplinary Literacy and Standards

The Role of the Teacher

Disciplinary Reading, Writing, Inquiry, and Collaboration

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter 2. Reading Within the Disciplines
The Benefits of Reading Within the Disciplines

Shifts for Reading Within the Disciplines

Reading Within Science

Reading Within Math

Reading Within History and Social Studies

Reading Within ELA

Questions (and Answers) About Reading Within the Disciplines

How to Get Students Reading in Every Discipline Every Day

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter 3. Writing Within the Disciplines
Benefits of Writing Within the Disciplines

Shifts for Teaching Writing Within the Disciplines

Writing Within Science

Writing Within History and Social Studies

Writing Within Math

Writing Within ELA

Questions (and Answers) About Writing Within the Disciplines

How to Get Students Writing Within the Disciplines

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter 4. Inquiry Within the Disciplines
Inquiry and Disciplinary Literacy

Shifts for Implementing Inquiry Within the Disciplines

Inquiry Within Science

Inquiry Within History and Social Studies

Inquiry Within Math

Inquiry Within ELA

Questions (and Answers) About Inquiry Within the Disciplines

How to Get Students Inquiring Within the Disciplines

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter 5. Collaborative Learning
The Power of Collaboration

Collaborative Learning by Any Other Name

Vocabulary: The Tool of Disciplinary Talk

Shifts for Implementing Collaborative Learning Within the Disciplines

Collaboration Within Science

Collaboration Within Math

Collaboration Within History and Social Studies

Collaboration Within ELA

Questions (and Answers) About Collaboration Within the Disciplines

Activities for Collaborative Learning Within the Disciplines

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter 6. This Is Disciplinary Literacy
Enter: Food Lit

Literacy Alive

Campfire: Literacy and Food

A Student Perspective

Collaboration and Community

Class Meals: A Metaphor for Community

Service-Learning at Home

Cross-Culture Connections

An Administrative Perspective

Students as Learners, Students as Presenters

The Power of Disciplinary Literacy



"ReLeah Lent has developed a great framework for helping content area teachers think about their discipline-specific literacies. More important, she has equipped them with tools that allow them to use these literacies to forward content learning. From student-led discussions to reading infographics, This is Disciplinary Literacy brings today’s literacies into content classrooms."

co-author of Rigorous Reading and Text Dependent Questions, Grades K-5 and 6-12

"Content area teachers will be delighted to find their concerns regarding disciplinary literacy finally addressed with discipline specific ways of integrating literacy that will to help all students deepen their content learning.  Teachers who’ve struggled with how to integrate literacy into their discipline or who are looking for fresh ideas for increasing literacy in their content area will find classroom ready examples they will be able to use.  What I like most about this book is the focus on literacy as a vehicle to enhance learning for all content areas."

National Principal of the Year (2014)

"Acquiring skill in disciplinary literacy is essential for students to become college and career ready.  This is Disciplinary Literacy is a contribution to teachers everywhere striving to meet the needs of their students.  This book hits the right balance between rationale for disciplinary literacy and providing useful approaches to use in each content area instruction.  The book will help teachers provide opportunities for deeper learning of content as well as a demonstration of rigorous reading, writing, thinking, and doing.  Congratulations on a job well done by ReLeah Lent."

Executive Director of the National Literacy Project

"This is Disciplinary Literacy is your go-to book for everything you need to know about this important topic. Lent expertly guides middle and high school teachers through an explanation of disciplinary literacy as well as how and why teaching and learning approaches differ in each content area.  Overflowing with examples from diverse classrooms and practical suggestions that teachers will embrace, chapters dedicated to reading, writing, inquiry, and collaborative learning will deepen your understanding of what literacy means in your subject."

author of Vocabulary is Comprehension

The book is straightforward and practical, with many support resources. It should work well for undergraduates.

Dr Michelle McAnuff Gumbs
Education, University Of Maine
January 21, 2023

It provides the breadth and depth required for this course without feeling like a textbook. I really like the Professional Development Guide for the book; however, I can't find the PowerPoint slides.

Dr Charlene S Martin
School Of Education, Oral Roberts University
February 15, 2023

This book is up to date with the current research and thinking about literacy in content areas )"disciplinary literacy") other than English / language arts. It is succinct, unpretentious, reader friendly, and teachers will likely relate to the content more so than the content reading texts we have used in the past. The text includes multiple examples of how literacy is related to and used by professionals in each of the disciplines.

Dorie Combs
Curriculum & Instruction Dept, Eastern Kentucky University
October 21, 2020

Affordable and comprehensive. Will work well with our secondary students as the ideas address some of the comments they have up front, such "but I don't teach reading." And it address each disciplinary area in detail.

Dr Justine Kane
School Of Education, Aquinas College
November 18, 2019

I feel it covers all that needs to be addressed to prepare my students to be great science teachers.

Mrs Margie Ritson
Education Dept, Chatham University
October 11, 2015
Key features
  • Common questions and answers (FAQs) regarding each chapter topic
  • Mixed into every chapter are  “Spotlight on______” , a feature that takes readers inside science, math, social studies, history  and ELA classes to see the practices in action.
  • Sample activities related to the topic of each chapter.  Each activity includes the following sections.
    • How it Works (including examples)
    • Why it Works (research and reasoning behind activity)
    • Extend and Adapt (other ways to use the resource or activity


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