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TPS Quarterly

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This issue provides ideas and strategies for using primary sources to support literacy instruction. Students build literacy through reading and writing across the curriculum, using a number of different media.

Literacy can be defined as a purposeful activity in which "people read, write, talk, and think about real ideas and information in order to extend what they know, communicate with others, to present their points of view, and to understand and be understood" (Langer).

Literacy encompasses a range of critical thinking and meaning-making capabilities. It incorporates "broader understandings and competencies needed in our changing society" and "consists of critical thinking skills that underlie social competence and reading comprehension" (Ellsworth, et al.). An interdisciplinary approach to reading and writing helps students learn content concepts and processes while honing essential communication skills.

Literacy extends to "reading" primary sources—documents, images, maps, objects, audio, and video—generating ideas, and communicating in multiple formats. Research has shown that studying historical artifacts engages students, facilitates higher level thinking skills, and encourages social interaction often associated with a broader definition of literacy (Fuhler, et al.).

Citations

Ellsworth, Nancy J., Carolyn N. Hedley, and Anthony N. Baratta, eds. Literacy: A Redefinition. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1994.

Fuhler, C.J., P.J. Farris, and P.A. Nelson. "Building Literacy Skills across the Curriculum: Forging Connections with the Past through Artifacts." The Reading Teacher 59 (2006): 646-659.

Langer, Judith. Language, literacy, and culture: Issues of society and schooling. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing, 1987.