Free multimedia activities aim to boost middle school literacy

Teachers’ Domain, a library of free digital resources and fee-based professional development courses developed by Boston public television station WGBH, has added a new section called “Inspiring Middle School Literacy: Reading and Writing in Science and History.” These self-paced classroom activities are designed to enhance the literacy skills of struggling readers in grades 5-12. Teachers choose a science or history topic, then have students proceed through reading passages, videos, and interactive activities, using a glossary to build vocabulary and a note-taking area to submit writing assignments. Science topics include continental drift, transitional fossils, and behavioral adaptations for surviving winter; history topics include Mayan civilization, resisting slavery, and building the Eerie Canal. Teachers can use these standards-based activities to supplement their science, social studies, or language-arts curriculum. “I am greatly impressed with these resources,” said Donna Alvermann of the University of Georgia’s Department of Language and Literacy Education. “Teachers and students can work with images and video to make print come alive. Interactive texts draw students into the subject matter in ways that print alone cannot do. Most importantly, the resources encourage students to think like historians and scientists.”