Content Literacy: Grades 6-12

Content Literacy: Grades 6-12

Help your students succeed in school with well-developed literacy skills. This course will provide practical strategies for incorporating reading, writing, and the other literacy skills outlined in the Common Core State Standards into your content area for differentiated adolescent education.

6 Weeks Access / 24 Course Hrs
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In order to succeed, students must develop literacy skills in order to access, learn, and comprehend. With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), teachers in all subject areas are finding themselves actively involved in their students' literacy development. In this course, you will discover literacy development strategies that make content come alive for each and every student!

You will see how new literacy standards relate to the content areas, and uncover the many ways adolescent development is connected to effective teaching. You'll explore differentiated education and see how easy it can be to deliver content to students at varying levels of literacy development. In addition, you'll analyze your current teaching practices to identify the effective literacy development that you're already doing. You'll adapt some of your favorite lessons to enhance reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language development. By the end of the course, you'll be confident in your ability to utilize the best of what's new, keep the best of what you've already got, and enjoy being a great 21st-century teacher!

Enrollment Options:
6 Weeks Access Course Code: 4cl
Start Dates*Feb 14
*Choose start date in cart
$129.00 USD


In the first lesson, you'll examine the difference between literacy and literature and look closely at the adolescent brain to find out how learning during that life stage is different than learning as a baby, child, or adult. You'll get a quick refresher on the concept of learning styles and discover how you can accommodate a diverse group of learners in a classroom. By the time the lesson is over, you'll be ready to explore the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and see how they address the need for grades 6-12 interdisciplinary literacy.

In this lesson you'll explore the history and goals of the CCSS. You'll find out how the developers of the CCSS structured the standards to help prepare students for the 21st century workplace and see how interdisciplinary literacy fits into the standards. You'll then walk through the document and examine its parts. Finally, you'll discover how you might use it when you prepare classroom activities.

Everyone knows that students need to read more, and they need to read more complex texts. How would you explain what text complexity is? This lesson will discuss the three aspects of text complexity as described in the CCSS. By the end of the lesson, you'll see how you can use text complexity analysis in your content area classroom to help students develop their reading skills and more readily master your academic material.

In this lesson, you'll take an in-depth look at the CCSS reading standards. First, you'll examine the reading anchor standards and see how they're articulated for different grade levels as students read both literature and informational texts. Then, you'll examine practical examples of reading strategies that you can use in your own content area classroom. By the end of this lesson, you'll have a clear picture of how to use reading strategies to build comprehension in your content area.

In this lesson you'll explore the writing standards and see how the CCSS articulates them for different grade levels. You'll look at some practical writing strategies that are ideally suited for the content area classroom, and then you'll see one of those strategies in practice. You'll also examine some of the most common tricks of the trade among English Language Arts teachers and how you can apply them to your classroom. After seeing what writing strategies look like in practice, you'll be inspired to try them yourself!

Don't assume that your students have mastered their speaking and listening skills. In this lesson, you'll explore the Common Core State Standards for speaking and listening. You'll examine how the broad goals of the anchor standards are articulated for the 6-12 grade levels and then take a close look at some speaking and listening activities that are ideally suited for the content area classroom. Along the way, the lesson will go over a few techniques for maintaining control in a conversational classroom.

Most teenagers enjoy a good debate. There's nothing inherently wrong with this; a well-argued debate can lead to some pretty exciting outcomes. In this lesson, you'll take a close look at how argumentation is related to literacy and learn ways to reinforce and encourage the value of debate in your content area classroom.

Language is the basic building block of any society; it's how people communicate and record events. In this lesson, you'll examine the CCSS goals for language development and learn how to help students achieve these goals in your own classroom.

Technology has significantly changed the way that teachers teach. This lesson is all about integrating the CCSS technology standards into the content area classroom. You'll discover how content learning, classroom technology, and literacy development complement each other and can occur simultaneously. Worried you're not an IT person and don't have the technological skills to succeed? Don't be. The lesson will address that, too, and by the end of it, you'll be ready to roll up your sleeves and dive headfirst into the technology deep end!

Student learning centers are a valuable, real-world model of how content learning and literacy skill development can happen simultaneously in every classroom. In this lesson, you'll learn how to repurpose existing lesson activities as learning center activities, and you'll find out why this approach to working with students in the upper grades is a practical way to integrate literacy development and content learning.

In this lesson, you'll find out how content literacy affects formative assessments and summative assessments. You'll learn what formative assessment is and isn't and then learn the three steps to a well-implemented formative assessment. You'll also look at how you can incorporate this type of assessment into your instruction. The lesson will discuss the five building blocks of formative assessment, and you'll learn some simple strategies you can use in your classroom. You'll also take a close look at summative assessments and find out about the two new assessment consortia that will administer standardized tests: Smarter Balanced and PARCC.

In the final lesson for this course, you'll make a plan to use the best of what's new, keep the best of what you've already got, and enjoy being a great 21st century teacher. This lesson will wrap up everything you've learned throughout this course, and you'll examine tools you can use to integrate the CCSS with your existing lesson plans and your school's curriculum.



There are no prerequisites to take this course.


Hardware Requirements:

  • This course can be taken on either a PC, Mac, or Chromebook.

Software Requirements:

  • PC: Windows 8 or later.
  • Mac: macOS 10.6 or later.
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.


  • Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.

Instructional Material Requirements:

The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.


Dr. Katie McKnight

Dr. Katie McKnight is an author, educator, and consultant. She received her B.A. from George Washington University, her M.Ed. from Northeastern Illinois University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Today, she serves as a professor at National Louis University and an onsite professional development consultant for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Dr. McKnight regularly publishes in professional journals and is the author of many books including The Elementary Teacher's Big Book of Graphic Organizers, and The Teacher's Big Book of Graphic Organizers, Grades 5-12 (recipient of the 2013 Teachers' Choice Award).

Instructor Interaction: The instructor looks forward to interacting with learners in the online moderated discussion area to share their expertise and answer any questions you may have on the course content.