Being Together With Advancing Literacy and Supporting Content Area Instruction through Co-Teaching in Social Studies

Date of Completion

January 2011


Education, Secondary|Education, Reading




Nearly 70% of adolescents in this country have been reported to read below proficiency (The Nation's Report Card, National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2006). Despite concerns about individual student achievement, any study of learning outcomes must occur within an equally rigorous examination of instructional models that are intended to help students develop greater competencies in a variety of literacy skills. One such model is a co-teaching partnership between a reading coach and content area teacher. This qualitative study used ethnographic and autoethnographic methods of data collection and analysis to richly describe co-teaching and its impact on the delivery of content area and literacy instruction over time in a high school. ^ The goal of the study was to establish if co-teaching with a reading coach is an appropriate path to expand traditional concepts of literacy coaching, shape instructional practices to enhance learning and content area reading for all students, and promote meaningful professional development. The study took place at a regional high in a suburban area of the northeastern United States. Participants included two teachers (a reading coach and a social studies teacher) and 16 students of "average" achievement levels in an eleventh grade section of United States History. ^ Findings from the study indicated that instruction and learning in this co-taught classroom showed evidence of reciprocity, flexibility, and collaboration. The social studies teacher gained knowledge in flexibly and consistently incorporating literacy strategies. Co-teaching contributed to a high level of student engagement and an improved classroom environment. Most students also reported changes in their reading habits that improved their comprehension, despite voicing concerns over a heavy work load. Having the opportunity to work outside a reading classroom increased agency and visibility of the high school reading coach. In addition, co-teaching at the secondary level represented an opportunity to provide sustained, explicit content area literacy instruction that was not intended as remediation. It also gave the reading coach an opportunity to provide consistent and responsive job-embedded professional development in literacy to teachers. ^