I am reawakened (rewoke?) to this idea on a regular basis, when my students are attempting to access dense or difficult text. My social studies courses are heavy on reading and writing, but I didn’t fully appreciate my role as a content and general literacy teacher until I started using the Talk to the Text method – affectionately called “T4” in my building. For the uninitiated, “T4’ing” is a reading and annotation protocol that encourages students to engage in dialogue with a given text. From my cursory research, the T4 method, also called TttT, originated in the Reading Apprenticeship program (see complete protocol directions here, courtesy of Renton Technical College), and is used for a variety purposes in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary classrooms. Students
write in the margins, make notes, underline and circle words, ask questions, and make comments and predictions. The reader notes what (s)he knows, what (they are) thinking about, what connections (s)he sees or does not see, what (her)/his predictions might be, etc. (RTC)
The thing I love about T4 is that it assists students in conducting deep reading, acquiring content literacy, and building academic language skills. Class discussions are richer when students have “T4’d” ahead of class, and applications are only limited by your imagination (Socratic Seminar, anyone?). I enjoy responding to the notes my students create and starting a written dialogue with them about the content. Here is a small sample of a document recently “T4’d” by one of my AP Government students:
My building uses standards-based grading (does yours?), and the T4 method aligns perfectly with the standards my department uses for literacy instruction – in this case, the “History/Social Studies” sub-category of the Common Core ELA standards.
The T4 method can be used in conjunction with assessments – I’m currently digging the Content Informal Reading Inventory, or CIRI, for assessment purposes (the Kamloops/Thompson school district in British Columbia has a straightforward set of directions on their “Literacy Resources” site). Protocols like T4 and the CIRI have equipped me to serve my students as a literacy teacher and empowered them to meet and exceed literacy and content standards.
For other non-ELA teachers: how do you teach content and general literacy? What tips, tricks, or go-to protocols do you use regularly? Share in the comments.
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