Embedding Literacy Instruction in Authentic Contexts
This paper looks at how literacy instruction can be embedded in authentic contexts in order to make the acquisition of reading and writing skills more meaningful. The push for authentic literacy experiences is supported by the theory of situated learning which proposes that knowledge should be developed within contexts and through activities authentic to the field or culture from which it originated. In addition, authentic literacy instruction is essential to the enactment of the ideological model of literacy. The paper examines how authenticity has been conceptualized by the literacy field and expands on four commonly identified criteria including real purposes, connections to students’ lives, authentic texts, and real audiences. Benefits of embedding literacy experiences in authentic contexts such as increased motivation, transfer of knowledge, gains in reading and writing skills, and emotional support of children are explored. Lastly, several curricular frameworks which support the implementation of authentic literacy instruction are described. These include inquiry circles, thematic units, Concept Oriented Reading Instruction, and authoring cycles. To conclude, implications for teaching as well as future research are considered.