Literacy is the ability to read and write, but it's also so much more. Students need literacy to participate in everyday life, and reading fluently impacts students' ability to be successful in school and beyond. Literacy encompasses reading books but also text messages, emails, labels and street signs — and the same is true for writing. The online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Literacy Studies program from The University of Texas at Arlington helps students improve their literacy skills to communicate effectively. This online program specializes in advanced coursework created to meet an array of objectives that address the literacy needs of every student.
Why Literacy Is Important
Literacy is the capacity to read, write, listen and speak in a way that enables us to communicate effectively and understand the world around us. When students lack essential literacy skills, they can face hardships in daily life, including difficulty in school, problems finding a job, inequality and issues in accessing health care.
Literacy and language proficiency are tools that can help communities raise children who are strong readers, active in their communities, advocates for themselves and others, healthy and informed voters. Valuable literacy skills can open many doors and encourage other skills such as critical thinking, communication, the ability to understand complex issues and an appreciation for reading.
According to James Murphy in his recent book titled Literacy: An Evidence-Informed Guide for Teachers, "Written information has become the foundation on which the information revolution is built. Without access to this foundation, full participation in our society is impossible. Indeed poor literacy is so strongly correlated with poor life outcomes that it should be impossible to ignore."
Literacy plays a vital role in shaping students into socially engaged individuals. Reading, writing and communicating effectively means students can interact with the world around them and understand the issues that shape their lives.
How To Support Literacy Development in the Classroom and Beyond
In addition to encouragement from parents by reading to their children and encouraging them to read independently, educators can also support and motivate students and their literacy skills. When teachers encourage reading — not only books, but also other diverse genres such as comics, graphic novels, newspapers, magazines, websites and reference materials — they can foster the love of reading and learning. Teachers can also involve students in discussing what they've read, plan activities that support literacy development and organize an exploration of the school library to participate in a fact hunting mission.
Literacy skills also need to be honed with using media and technology. Consuming and producing information via printed and online sources requires the knowledge and ability to discern errors, biases and the currency of information. Students also need to understand that what they write and say can significantly impact the real world.
Recognized by the International Literacy Association, the online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Literacy Studies program at The University of Texas at Arlington addresses the challenges of educators in today's schools. With courses like Pre-Adolescent & Adolescent Literacy, Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults, Teaching the Writing Process and more, professionals can prepare to teach reading and develop students into effective communicators outside the classroom.
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