Reading Across the Curriculum


Through the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP), reading processes have been identified as critical for success in all content areas. Teaching reading is an integral part of all content areas: “Every teacher must be a reading teacher” (Billmeyer, 1996).

Why Is Reading Important in the Content Areas?

  • One concern teachers express is that students do not have the skills to read and comprehend content-based text. Therefore, content area teachers need to be skilled in content-based reading strategies (Billmeyer, 1996).

  • Skills needed depend on the content and text. Content teachers are best qualified to help students comprehend the material presented by developing prior knowledge related to the topic.

  • If all teachers provide reading opportunities for students, students will be better prepared to meet identified standards in all areas.

  • Background knowledge and content provide an essential link between what students understand and what they read (Anthony and Raphael, 1989).

What Can All Teachers Do to Help Readers?

Teachers may wish to consider utilizing the following techniques and strategies in teaching reading in their content area:

  • Reading Instruction - Design lessons using a before, during, and after format in which reading is a significant component.

  • Respond to Reading - Have students respond to stance questions in writing, providing support from the text.

  • Develop Vocabulary - Aid understanding of content terms through context clues, word structure, and semantic features.

  • Questions-Answers-Relationships (QAR) - Help students to understand how to develop responses to questions and provide textual support.

  • Use a Reader's Checklist - Articulate strategies for reading that students can refer to before, during, and after reading.

  • Think Aloud - Model mental processes that expert readers use as they read.

  • Anticipation Guide - Give students a series of questions to generate interest in the topic.

  • SQ3R - Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review.

  • Reciprocal Teaching - Summarize, question, clarify, and predict content and meaning.

  • K-W-L - Explore what students know before and what they want to know before and during reading; review what they learned after reading.

  • Expository Text Structure - Teach the fundamental differences between expository and narrative materials.

  • Develop Prior Knowledge - Develop unfamiliar concepts, experiences, and vocabulary prior to reading.

  • Remember - Provide many reading opportunities related to the content!

Reading Strategies for All Content Areas
Teaching Vocabulary in the Content Areas
Checklists for Reading Purposes

Back to Instructional Strategies Page


This site was developed by the Department of Staff Development, in collaboration with the Division of Instruction. Questions, comments, and other inquiries may be addressed to Allene Chriest ( or Jeff Maher  (