Literacy is the ability to use language and images in rich and varied forms to read, write, listen, speak, view, represent, discuss, and think critically about ideas. Literacy enables us to share information and to interact with others. Literacy is an essential tool for personal growth and active participation in a democratic society.
Ontario Ministry of Education, Paying Attention to Literacy: Six Foundations for Improvement in Literacy, K-12, 2013
The Importance of Literacy
Literacy continues to evolve as the world changes and its demands shift and become more complex. A focus on literacy goes beyond traditional forms of reading and writing. Today’s students live with technological innovations that previous generations never experienced. They are accustomed to receiving information quickly, and often in a non-linear format, and they may engage in social interactions using a variety of technologies.
Literacy skills are embedded in the expectations for all subjects and disciplines of the Ontario curriculum. Each subject provides opportunities for literacy development, often in specialized ways. Literacy needs to be explicitly taught in all subjects. Literacy demands, such as vocabulary acquisition and accessing and managing information, become more complex across subjects and disciplines as students progress through the grades.
The Scope of Literacy
In Ontario schools, all students are equipped with the literacy skills necessary to be critical and creative thinkers, effective meaning-makers and communicators, collaborative co-learners, and innovative problem-solvers. These are the skills that will enable them to achieve personal, career, and societal goals. Students develop literacy skills as they think, express, and reflect.
In every subject, before, during, and after they read, view, listen, speak, or write, students select and use a variety of literacy strategies and subject-specific processes. This helps them comprehend and organize information and ideas, and communicate meaning. Teachers assist students in learning and selecting appropriate literacy strategies based on assessment of their individual needs and learning preferences.
Students learn to think, express, and reflect in discipline-specific ways. Teachers purposefully teach students about the literacy demands of the particular subject area. Students learn the vocabulary and terminology that are unique to a particular subject area and must be able to interpret symbols, charts and diagrams. Cross-curricular and subject-specific literacy skills are essential to students’ success in all subjects of the curriculum, and in all areas of their lives.