Learning Resources for Teachers

Hey, I have created this page for fellow colleagues because I remember learning during the "first days of school" training that teaching is all about sharing and caring. We all have the same purpose and goal and that is to facilitate and assist in the learning process and education of our students. Well I am taking full advantage of the classes we have to take for AP3 and gaining and giving as much knowledge as possible, before I no longer have access to the program and to the wonderful resources they have provided for their students. You will find reading strategies, techniques, graphic organizers, updated research, and activities for all grade levels and for all subjects. Snoop around, take a look....and enjoy Wink!! -Angela


Blank Graphic Organizers

            KWLH strategy 


            word sorts graphic Organizer 

            DISSECT graphic organizer 

            Blank 3-2-1 Graphic Organizer 

            10 most important words 

            Double entry diary graphic organizer 

            Inquiry Chart Graphic Organizer 

            Anticipation Guide graphic organizer 

            Word Builder graphic organizer  

            Problem-Solution graphic organizer 


1. This site offers some ideas on how to help LEP students feel success in school. Provided are specific strategies for creating a language-rich environment, building from prior knowledge and vocabulary, and teaching language with content.

Strategies for Promoting Success for the Second Language Learner in Grades K-12 

2.   The Six Thinking Hats strategy was developed by Edward de Bono; it requires students (and teachers) to "stretch" or expand their way of thinking about a topic by "wearing" different thinking hats.

White hat thinking: think about the facts and details of a topic. Red hat thinking: examine a topic through emotions and feelings. Green hat thinking: use your imagination about a topic. Black hat thinking: think about the negative aspects of a topic. Yellow hat thinking: think about the positive aspects of a topic. Blue hat thinking: reflect, think metacognitively, and try to grasp the big picture.

The colors will help you to visualize six different types of thinking and to also convey your thinking about the topic at hand. This strategy will help you to experience and reflect on the different types of thinking that is required in different situations.

As you go through a lesson, pause occasionally and change hats. Collect your thoughts on your 6 Thinking Hats Strategy organizer.  

 6 thinking hats strategy organizer 

3. View this document to learn more about the specific challenges involved in teaching reading and writing to adolescents for whom English is not a first language and the possible solutions for assisting them. 

Double the Work: Challenges and Solutions to Acquiring Language and Academic Literacy for Adolescent English Language Learners 

4.  Strategies for Selecting, Adapting, and Using Content Area Materials for ESOL

Criteria for selecting materials
  • Materials are clearly and simply written.
  • Length is manageable.
  • There are many pictures that are closely related to written text.
  • There are many charts, diagrams, and graphs.
  • There are many hands-on activities to use with text.
  • The text is clearly demarcated with headings, subdivisions and bold text for important points.
  • Materials take a multicultural point of view in illustrations, selection of materials, and background information expected.
Adapting less-than-ideal materials
  • Select excerpts including key points.
  • Find translations.
  • Supplement with or substitute more accessible materials.
  • Use concrete, specific examples of the concepts/points being explored.
  • Use many non-linguistic aids including pictures, graphs, charts, artifacts, tables, maps, charts, and objects.
  • Focus students' attention on the essentials.
  • Allow students to explore the subject together and negotiate meaning through their native language.
Using materials
  • Use directed reading--preview, read, review. Ask many questions to guide and check comprehension.
  • Teach students learning strategies for getting to the essence of text.
  • Use text in combination with highly interactive activities, e.g., Jigsaw, numbered heads, think-pair-share.
  • Address and discuss cultural bias that is present; add other cultural points of view.







Wordsplash -- Key words are selected from a reading and displayed in a graphic arrangement. Students are asked to create complete statements about each term. These statements should illustrate the predicted topic to be read.

DRTA: Directed Reading/Thinking Activity -- This approach to reading instruction provides students with the opportunity to access background knowledge and acquire new vocabulary in context.

Story or Chapter MappingPDF [PDF: 1 page / 12k] -- A visual outline to help students understand, recall, and connect key terms and ideas from a text. Story maps can be made individually or by the class as a whole.

Semantic Webs/Mapping -- A visual tool for expanding and extending vocabulary development. Students are given a central topic or concept, brainstorm related vocabulary in separate categories, and the map or web is used to focus discussion before a reading.

QAR: Question Answer Relationship -- This is a strategy which teachers use to develop four question types in two categories:

  1. In the Book, and
  2. In your Head.

RAGS: Read Around Groups -- This is an activity designed to give students an opportunity to think, discuss, and write about topics related to what they have read. Students participate in a short writing activity after a reading for which they develop criteria, code their work, read each other's comments in cooperative groups, voting on papers that best meet criteria and discussing why.

SQ3R -- A strategy used to help students focus on a reading topic and develop questions on that topic.

S-Survey the reading  

Q-Question by turning paragraph headings in to questions using "Wh" words

3R-read, recite, and review

Semantic Feature Analysis -- SFA is a visual tool in the form of a matrix designed to identify similarities of closely related words. Students fill in the matrix by putting pluses or minuses in the cell of the matrix, a plus indicating that the feature exists, whereas a minus indicates that it is not present.

Literature Response Groups/Journals: This activity allows students to explore each other's interpretations of text, and to share their own opinions, feelings, and confusions after reading selected material. They work in small cooperative groups to read silently and clarify meaning together. They may also free write and share their writings with one another.

 6. This Bright Ideas article recommends five specific and measurable actions teachers can implement to assist ELL learning in the school year.

Five Things Teachers Can Do to Improve Learning for ELLs in the New Year  

7.  How- to and ideas for word walls


      examples of word walls 

     word walls in the secondary classroom 

8. What is shared reading?

   shared reading 

9. Multiple strategies of reciprocal teaching during guided reading

      sample video 

10. A word identification strategy that is effective in reducing common oral reading errors such as mispronunciation, substitutions, and omissions made by adolescent readers with learning problems 


11. Improving Word Identification skills using strategic instruction Model (SIM) strategies

          The strategic instruction model 

12. Differentiated Instruction

            Differentiate lessons resource 

             Anchor Activity 

            Vocabulary anchor activity 

13.  Different reading strategies


                      venn diagram 

                      vocabulary word maps 

                       question-answer relationship 

14.  Different activities to do for Before-During- After framework

                      before-during-after activities 


15. Discussion starters for any book

                    List of starters 

16. What do students want and what really motivates them?

                 read insightful article 

17. Using think-alouds to improve reading comprehension


18. Steps to the SQ3R method (survey, question, read, recite, review)


19. Anticipation/Reaction guide


20. RAFT paper

             Blank RAFT paper 

             sample RAFT paper 

             RAFT writing prompts for Math Class 

21. Predict - Locate- Add- Note  (PLAN)

             examples of PLAN 

            using PLAN in Social Studies 


22. Viewing vocabulary: Building Word Knowledge through Informational Websites (grades 6-8)


                vocabulary self-selection strategy  

23. Teaching Vocabulary

              several links 

24. How students learn words

               promoting vocabulary development 

25.  fun stuff

26. Academic Vocabulary for all subjects
27. Independent Word Learning Strategies
28. Strategy Instruction to Build Vocabulary
 29. Exploring Word Strategies

 30.  Problem-Solution Graphic Organizer

The "Problem–Solution" strategy helps students focus on four critical areas of problem-solving: identifying the problem, listing the causes, listing potential effects, and suggesting possible solutions. It is a great after reading strategy that can help strengthen students’ comprehension skills.

The Problem-Solution chart is a variation of column notes. It helps students focus on the four areas critical to problem solving: identifying the problem, listing the consequences or results of that problem, isolating the causes, and proposing solutions.

How Does It Work? A Problem-Solution chart offers a way to visually organize the distinct components of problems toward educative ends. Students (or the teacher) will first identify a problem; the effects or consequences of that problem are listed next. Students then brainstorm all the possible causes of that problem and also come up with solutions to the problem.

This strategy is a great tool to use in Social Studies and literature lessons. However, it could be used as a classroom management tool or to help students analyze their behavior. For example, if a student misbehaves, s/he may complete a Problem-Solution chart before the counseling session. Then, the Problem-Solution chart becomes a way for a student to reflect on his own behavior, its consequences, and what he might do to change it.

Additionally, it’s a great strategy for jointly solving thorny issues that the class as a whole can address.

31. Reading Quest       

         -a website designed for social studies teachers who wish to more effectively engage their students with the content in their classes.         

              Reading Quest. Org  

32. Florida's Formula for Reading Success


33. Characteristic Behaviors of good and poor readers

                   good readers                       poor readers 

34. Classroom based strategies

        -To improve adolescent literacy 


35. Highly successful programs practice six instructional practices

                They are:  Resources 

36. Explicit Instruction                

Steps for Explicit Instruction

  • Teacher explains WHAT the strategy is.
  • Teacher explains WHY the strategy is important.
  • Teacher models HOW to do the strategy.
  • Teacher explains WHEN to use the strategy.
  • Students work through the strategy with GUIDED PRACTICE.
  • Students use the strategy on their own, PRACTICE INDEPENDENTLY.
37. Prior Knowledge

Establishing Prior Knowledge

The second of the common methodologies is establishing, or activating prior knowledge.

The practice of linking content material and literature to student prior knowledge has long been established as a key element to comprehension and learning. The KWL strategy is typically used in classrooms to elicit prior knowledge from students. Many variations of the standard KWL show its versatility and adaptability. You can use this strategy when introducing new information, reviewing learned information, making connection to experiences and filling the gaps suggested by the list of "immature reading behaviors" of striving readers (e.g., Alatorre-Parks, 2001; Fisher, 2001; Flood & Lapp, 1990; Hinson, 2001; Lloyd, 1998; McCombs & Barton, 1998). 

38. Reading Comprehension

          Effective Practices for Developing Reading ComprehensionPDF [PDF: 27 pages / 369]by Nell K. Duke and P. David Pearson (2002):               Researchers describe what we know about good readers and how we can use that with striving readers.  

          Motivating Low Performing Adolescent Readers prepared by Norma Decker Collins (1996):

          The focus of this ERIC Digest is on motivating the low-performing adolescent in a remedial-reading or subject area classroom. The premise is            that students who are disengaged from their own learning processes are not likely to perform well in school. 

39. Graphic organizers to support vocabulary instruction 


 40. Scaffolding and Comprehension for Striving readers

                              Strategy 1:           

Buddy or paired reading

  • Students read aloud to each other.
  • Reader 1 reads aloud to Reader 2, who then reads the same passage aloud to Reader 1.
  • At the end of this assigned reading they stop and share thoughts and questions.
  • This procedure continues until the assigned passage is complete.
Strategy 2:

Coding the text

  • Students mark the text as they read.
  • Readers mark the text (in pencil) when they have questions or "aha" points which will lead to discussion of ideas. Examples are:
    • ? - I have a question about this part.
    • ! - I know this.
    • + - I didn't know this. Now I do.
Strategy 3:

Journal writing

  • Students record thoughts and quick insights, a variation on note taking, while reading. The writings respond to preselected prompts:

"This makes me think of..."

"I would have done this..."

"This is important/interesting because..."

Strategy 4:

Quick writes

  • At crucial points in the narrative or at the end of a section or reading, students do a quick write (they write about what they read usually for three [3] minutes) in a notebook or on a card or sticky note or do a quick draw. This will help students focus.
Strategy 5:

Encourage talking

  • Students listen to and respond to others' ideas.

"Does anyone agree or disagree with _____ statement?

Strategy 6:

Provide opportunities for multiple formats of response.

  • Role Playing
  • Think-alouds
  • Dramatizations
  • Art presentations
Strategy 7:

Provide copies of standard guiding questions

  • On bookmarks
  • As sticky note reminders

 41.  Required Reading

 42. Educational bookmarks

               Flare- bookmarks 

43.  Applications for content-area classrooms

Two practices, one for before reading and one for during reading, build from the list of suggestions above. Both are variations of "old standby" strategies which often appear in the literature on study skills. SCAN is a variation on SQ3R and RUN is a variation on note taking.

These are appropriate for reading expository material.



S = Survey Headings and Turn Them into Questions what, why & how questions

C = Capture the Caption and Visuals

A = Attack Bolded words these are clues to main idea

N = Note and Read Chapter questions

Read the questions at the chapter's end before reading the section.

R = Read and Adjust Speed

U = Use Word Identification Skills

Such as sounding out and chunking, looking for other word clues in the sentence

N = Notice and Check Parts you do not understand, reread or read on

Place a Ÿ in the margin, come back or reread

(Adapted from Salembier, 1999) 

44.  Required Reading

Instructional Techniques for Struggling Readers - This article from Teaching Today offers a variety of strategies and activities that teachers can use to help support their students. 

45.  Required Reading 

Seeking Help for a Struggling Reader: Seven Steps for Teachers - Review specific steps you can take as a teacher to assist your striving readers.

46.  Summary of Principles of Effective Reading Instruction in Florida's Formula

According to Louisa Moats (2000), effective teachers of literacy raise students' ability to generate and interpret sound-spelling, syllables, morphemes, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and various genres of text. They also balance skill instruction with daily writing and reading that is meaningful and engaging for all students. Middle and upper grade students with poor reading can be brought up to grade level with appropriate (intensive) instruction, considerable effort, and time invested in reading. The following list is adapted from Moats (2000). Well-designed, controlled comparisons of instruction have considerably supported the following statements:

  • Direct teaching of sound-symbol relationships, word recognition, comprehension, and literature appreciation are necessary from students' entry into school until they become proficient readers and writers.
  • Phoneme awareness instruction, when linked to systematic decoding and spelling instruction, is key to preventing reading failure in students who come to school without these prerequisites.
  • It is better to teach the code system of written English systematically and explicitly than it is to teach it randomly, indirectly, and incidentally. The units for instruction (sound, syllable, morpheme, word) should vary according to students' reading and spelling skill.
  • The most effective programs include daily exposure to a variety of texts and incentives for students to read independently and with others. Practices that build reading fluency include repeated reading of text, reading with a partner, and repeated oral reading of easy material.
  • Vocabulary is best taught with a variety of complementary methods, including explicit instruction, designed to explore the relationships among words and the relationships among word structure, origin, and meaning.
  • Key comprehension strategies to teach include summarizing, inferring, clarifying, questioning, and visualizing; these should be modeled explicitly by the teacher and practiced explicitly if students do not comprehend well or if they approach reading comprehension passively.
  • Effective teachers encourage frequent prose writing to enable deeper understanding of what is read.


47.  Interventions for struggling readers


          Florida Center For Reading Research 


48.   Think-pair-share for secondary grades

This strategy works for any subject. The key is to allow students an opportunity to first think about the material you have discussed or reviewed and then allow them to discuss this material with a partner prior to sharing with the class. As educators, we know that providing opportunities for students to talk about content with their peers will enhance their learning. The Think-Pair-Share strategy helps structure the discussion and review. This strategy also allows students working below grade level or ESOL students an opportunity to practice their answer with a peer before being asked to share an answer with the class. In its most simplistic form, the teacher would simply ask a question aloud, have the students think about their answers, have the students discuss their answers with a partner, and then call on a student to supply the answer to the class.

Here is an extended example of how to use Think Pair Share:

Background: The students have been studying the poetry of Langston Hughes.


  1. Have the students read "Harlem" by Langston Hughes
  2. Have students think about their interpretation of a "deferred dream."
  3. Have students pair with a partner. Shoulder partners work well for this activity. A shoulder partner is someone who has a shoulder near your shoulder.
  4. Have students share with their partner their interpretation.
  5. Call on students to share their answer aloud with the class.

Differentiated Lesson

This lesson was differentiated with student readiness in mind.

Background: The teacher is beginning a unit on prefixes and suffixes.

Level 1: (Designed for those students having trouble with this topic)

Students in this group will be given a list of eight prefixes to look up in the dictionary. The students will write the definitions of the prefixes. The students will be given a list of words using those prefixes and they will underline the prefixes in each of the words. Students will then complete a word search (designed by the teacher at www.puzzlemaker.com). The clues for the words are in sentences that have context that suggests the meaning for the blank left in the sentence where the word would fit. These are cloze sentences that would develop the meanings of vocabulary’s meanings and could be used to studying the vocabulary in a unit.

Level 2: (Designed for those students who are grasping the concept)

Students in this group will be given a list of four prefixes to look up in the dictionary. Students will then have to find at least four more prefixes on their own. Students will write the definitions of the eight prefixes. Students will then write one word per prefix from the dictionary and underline the prefix. Students will then complete a word search (designed by the teacher at www.puzzlemaker.com).

The words would be the answers to the cloze sentences at the bottom of the puzzle. Afterwards, students would write at least one word that uses the same prefix along with a cloze sentence that would make a good clue for that word. Students could then meet in small groups of two pairs of shoulder partners to play the game of trying to guess the new words using the written sentences from the other pair of shoulder partner. The game-like activity in small groups supports the need to interact as secondary students without the worry of being in too large a group.

Level 3: (Designed for those students who already have some knowledge of prefixes)

These students will find at least eight words with different prefixes in newspaper articles. Students will write the definition of the prefixes, write what the word means in the sentence and generate at least two additional word examples for each prefix. Students will then complete a word search (designed by the teacher at www.puzzlemaker.com).

Note: On the website www.puzzlemaker.com teachers can develop and print a variety of different puzzles. These puzzles can be differentiated for each of your groups by choosing to have less or more words/letters in each of the puzzles. Also, you can choose the words to include in the puzzle and can choose more or less challenging words depending on the group. Is this needed? If the teacher selects the words, he/she is selecting based on content and level. 

49.  Puzzle Maker

 On the website www.puzzlemaker.com teachers can develop and print a variety of different puzzles. These puzzles can be differentiated for each of your groups by choosing to have less or more words/letters in each of the puzzles. Also, you can choose the words to include in the puzzle and can choose more or less challenging words depending on the group. Is this needed? If the teacher selects the words, he/she is selecting based on content and level.

50.  Resources on Double-Entry diary


51.  Double entry diary graphic organizer

The "Double Entry Diary" can be used as a during-reading strategy to invite students to record dual entries that are conceptually related. The "Double Entry Diary" is a means for students to record their thinking while reading. In the left column of the diary, students may select words, short quotes, or passages from the text that interests them or evokes a strong response. In the right column of the diary, students can record their responses and reactions to the text they selected. Students’ notes could be used to hold a class or small group discussion and further stimulate students’ interest or curiosity in the text.


 52.  Technique for improving fluency

53.  Parallels in reading and fluency

               A Focus on Fluency


60.  Think-alouds 


61.  What is strategic teaching and learning

Strategic reading refers to thinking about reading in ways that will foster learning and understanding (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000).

What is the Role of the Teacher during Strategic Teaching and Learning?

  • Teaches a few strategies through modeling and guided practice.
  • Teaches them in depth.
  • Teaches them over a long period of time.
  • Teaches using a variety of text genre and difficulty.
  • Uses effective prompting and questioning.
  • Monitors student understanding to adjust instruction accordingly, providing additional modeling/support to scaffold student learning.
  • Teaches for independence.

What is the Role of the Student during Strategic Teaching and Learning?

  • Uses existing knowledge to make sense of new information.
  • Asks questions about the text before, during, and after reading.
  • Draws inferences from text.
  • Monitors his or her comprehension.
  • Uses fix-up strategies when meaning breaks down.
  • Determines what is important.
  • Synthesizes information to create sensory images.

61.  7 strategies for improving writing

The NRP (2000) concluded that comprehension can be improved by teaching students the cognitive strategies to reason when they have difficulties understanding what they are reading.

The NRP identified seven types of instruction that improve comprehension of non-impaired readers:

  1. Comprehension monitoring
  2. Cooperative learning
  3. Graphic organizers
  4. Question answering
  5. Question generating
  6. Story structure
  7. Summarization

62.  Different strategies


Fix-Up Strategies

According to Tovani (2002), when meaning breaks down, readers need to repair it. How? It is important to remember that students will not even realize that meaning has broken down if they have not been taught by the teacher how to monitor comprehension. In addition, teachers will need to first model fix-up strategies, allow students to apply them, and help them monitor their comprehension. Telling students that "they didn't get it" without first teaching them "how to get it" will have no effect on their comprehension development. Teachers are in the business of "teaching and modeling" and not in "just telling about it."

Cris Tovani (2000) suggests fix-up strategies to aid in comprehension.

  • Make a connection with self, text, and world and the text
  • Adjust your reading rate: are you reading too fast or too slow?
  • Visualize important points.
  • Reread the text/section.
  • Make a prediction and look for information to support or reject your prediction while reading.
  • Stop and think about what you have already read. Does it make sense so far?
  • Ask yourself a ("wh") question, and try to answer it.
  • Reflect in writing on what you have read.
  • Retell what you've read.
  • Look for patterns in text structure.


2. Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning activities build student-to-student interactions, allow students to work together toward a common goal, and facilitate discussions and further processing of information. Cooperative learning has a long research history and offers many benefits. Cooperative learning (CL) is more than just group work. In a well-designed CL activity, each participant has an important role to play for the benefit of the entire group. Read more about Cooperative learning models by the Cooperative learning models by the Harvard Education Research Center.


3. Graphic Organizers

Using graphic organizers was another strategy recommended by the NRP (2000). Graphic organizers are visual representations that show relationships among texts. Graphic organizers help to clarify abstract information and make it more concrete; they show connections among facts and concepts, generate ideas for discussion and writing, relate new information to the known, and assist in storing and retrieving information into long-term memory. Graphic organizers are particularly useful in helping students read to learn from informational text in the content areas (Armbruster et al., 2001). Graphic organizers are not meant to be just recorded on a set of dittos; they are not a stand alone program; they are not a silver bullet. Explicit instruction and teacher support are necessary for students to develop strategic thinking and understand how and when to use a graphic organizer for what purposes. Research shows that graphic organizers help organize information but without understanding the underlying reason for using them, graphic organizers are just activities.

4. Answering Questions

No comprehension activity has a longer or more pervasive tradition than asking students questions about their reading (Duke & Pearson, 2002). Questioning has long been used by teachers as a way to guide and monitor student learning. "Research shows that teacher questioning strongly supports and advances students' learning from reading" (Armbruster, Lehr, & Osborn, 2001). Questioning is effective for improving comprehension because it gives the students a purpose for reading, focuses attention on what must be learned, helps develop active thinking while reading, helps monitor comprehension, helps review content, and relates what is learned to what is already known (Armbruster et al., 2001).

Readers who ask questions when they read assume responsibility for their learning and improve their comprehension in four ways:

  • By interacting with text before, during, and after reading.
  • By motivating themselves to read.
  • By clarifying information in the text.
  • By inferring beyond the literal meaning. Teachers can assist students with answering questions by teaching them to carefully read the question and underline key words. It is also important that students understand what the question is requiring them to do.


5. Generating Questions

Teaching students to ask their own questions improves their processing of text and their comprehension (Armbruster et al., 2001). Thinking aloud is one of the best ways to model/teach question generating. Yet some teachers need practice thinking about the questions generated during reading because it's a natural strategy we employ.

"Readers who ask questions when they read assume responsibility for their learning and improve their comprehension in four ways"(Tovani, 2000, p. 86):

  • Interacting with text;
  • Motivating themselves to read;
  • Clarifying information in the text; and
  • Inferring beyond the literal meaning.

Question answering and generating gives students a purpose for reading, gets students to focus their attention on the reading, helps them think actively, encourages comprehension monitoring, and allows readers to connect the new to the known.

One question-answering strategy is Question Answer Relationship (QAR), developed by Taffy Raphael and colleagues (1997). Readers learn to use four types of questions: right there, think and search, author and me, and on my own.

To ensure you are promoting higher-level thinking skills as you develop lessons, conduct classroom discussions, ask questions, and design activities, focus on the verbs listed under analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of Bloom's Taxonomy [PDF: 1 page / 67kb]. It is important to remember that higher-order thinking skills require much scaffolded support from the teacher. Create a link for the list below and link to "scaffolded support" in the sentence above. Here are some guidelines for scaffolding:

  • Give assistance before, during, and after reading.
  • Make invisible cognitive skills visible.
  • Encourage students to consider how they know what they know.
  • Facilitate students making connections to prior and new learning.
  • Provide opportunities to apply new skills in a variety of settings.
  • Support students when they become confused.
  • Include opportunities for students to think back over lessons and identify what is clear and what is still confusing.
  • Remember that support is needed and given on a continuum, with the greatest need and support occurring during initial instruction.
  • Understand that to help students become proficient, many lessons, much modeling, and guided practice experiences will be needed.

6. Story Structure

Recognizing story structure was another strategy identified by the NRP (2000). Students who recognize story structure have a greater understanding, appreciation, and memory for stories (Armbruster et al., 2001). Students learn to identify story structure elements and how the plot is organized in this type of instruction. The categories identified usually include: setting, initiating events, internal reactions, goals, solutions, and outcomes. Students also need to learn to draw inferences from different texts. Story maps are one type of graphic organizer used to facilitate comprehension of these story elements.

If readers can identify the internal organization or text structures in an expository text, they are more likely to comprehend and remember the individual ideas and to understand the coherent whole. Knowing how texts are commonly structured may help students process information, even when texts are challenging or confusing (Florida Literacy and Reading Excellence (FLaRE), 2002). Expository text structure poses different demands upon the reader than narrative text structure. Expository text structures vary widely. Here are some examples:

  • Sequence/directions
  • Listing/description
  • Compare/contrast
  • Cause/effect
  • Definition/explanation
  • Problem/solution
  • Persuasion/argument
  • Question/answer


Classroom Applications icon

7. Summarizing

The last strategy identified by the NRP (2000) as effective in improving comprehension was summarizing. A summary is the synthesis of important ideas presented in the text. Summarizing helps students:

  • Identify and generate main ideas;
  • Connect the main or central ideas;
  • Eliminate redundant or unnecessary information; and
  • Remember what they read (Armbuster et al., 2001).

Summarizing involves:

  • Identifying essential information;
  • Identifying type of text;
  • Identifying genre;
  • Questioning;
  • Sequencing events; and
  • Synthesizing information.

Additional Resources

Other Key Points (compiled from NICHD, 2000; Strickland, Ganske, & Monroe, 2002; and Irvin, 1998)

  • Narrative text tends to be easier for students to summarize, and thus a good place to start.
  • Begin instruction and guided practice with short, familiar text and allow students to use text when composing their summaries.
  • Encourage students to summarize orally before writing summaries.
  • Learning to summarize is difficult to master and therefore requires much modeling and scaffolded support from the teacher.
  • Model, Model, Model!

Please follow this link for Harvey & Goudvis' (2000) hints for highlighting important information.

Multiple-strategy Teaching

For comprehension to develop, the reader needs to interact with the teacher and the text. Multiple-strategy teaching is effective when the procedures are used flexibly and appropriately by the readers or the teacher in naturalistic contexts. An example of multiple-strategy teaching is provided below using Reciprocal Teaching.

63.  Integrating reading and writing across the curriculum

Effective Reading Strategy: Inquiry Chart (I-Chart)

The "Inquiry Chart" is a structured framework that can be used during or after reading for examining critical questions by integrating what a student already knows about a topic with additional information found in several sources. The questions can be student-generated or assigned by the teacher. On a given topic, students will have several questions to explore. These are found at the top of each individual column. The rows are for recording, in summary form, the information students think they already know and the key ideas pulled from three different sources of information. The final rows give students a chance to (a) ask new questions about the topic, (b) add interesting facts they found about the topic, and (c) briefly summarize what they learned about the topic.

64.  Effective strategies for improving writing


Writing Instruction in Grades K-12

The following articles summarize findings about the field of writing and writing instruction. Each article provides ideas and resources for families, educators, and policymakers. Please read the report for your specific grade level.

64.  Writing Strategies

Research has shown dramatic effects in the quality of student writing when they have been taught to use strategies for planning, revising, and editing their compositions. Just as in reading, strategy instruction in writing involves explicitly and systematically teaching steps necessary for planning, revising, and editing.

One approach for helping students learn specific strategies for planning, drafting, and revising text is Self-Regulated Strategy Development or SRSD. Teachers assist students by helping them become more competent writers through directly teaching students the processes, skills, and knowledge that underlie effective writing as well as how to coordinate and regulate their use (De La Paz & Graham, 2002). SRSD takes place in six stages.

General Template for Strategy Use

Develop Background Knowledge

Teach students the background knowledge needed to use any strategy. For example, activate the students' background knowledge on the parts of an essay and different sentence types.

Describe It

The teacher describes the strategy as well as its purpose. Students also learn about the benefits of using the strategy.

Model It

The teacher models how to use the strategy by using a think-aloud. The teacher also uses a variety of self-instructions to show how the strategy is managed. An example of a self-instruction statement might be, "Since I decided to put my thesis first, I will write it at the beginning of my introductory paragraph" (De La Paz & Graham, 2002).

Memorize It

Students must memorize the steps of the strategy and any accompanying mnemonic. Teachers formally assess students' recall of the strategy.

Support It

Teachers support student use of the strategy through guided practice. Support fades as students begin to master the strategy.

Independent Use

All support provided to students fades as they begin to use the strategy independently.

Below are strategies and mnemonic devices you can use when implementing writing instruction.



PLAN (De La Paz & Graham, 2002)

Pay attention to the prompt

List main ideas

Add supporting details

Number your ideas


semantic webbing

goal setting



Write (De La Paz & Graham, 2002)

Work from your plan to develop your thesis.

Remember your goals.

Include transition words.

Try to use different kinds of sentences.

Exciting, interesting, $100,000 words.

The following mnemonic can be used when teaching students to write opinion essays (De La Paz, 1999).

Develop a topic sentence.

Add supporting details.

Reject an argument for the other side.

End with a conclusion.

Teach students to write using various text structures. Models of text structures can be pulled from reading materials students use.

Teach students to write various kinds of sentences.



Graham & McCarthur (1988)

  1. Read your essay.
  2. Find the sentence that tells what you believe. Is it clear?
  3. Add two reasons why you believe it.
  4. SCAN each sentence.
    • Does it make sense?
    • Is it connected to my belief?
    • Can I add more?
    • Note errors
  5. Re-read your essay and make final changes.

Peer editing

 65.  Summarization

Resources icon

Summarization is restating the essence of text in as few words as possible or in a new, efficient manner (Wormeli, 2005). According to Wormeli, summarization is one the most underused teaching techniques, yet research shows that it yields some of the greatest leaps in comprehension and long-term retention of information (p.2).

There are specific practices that teachers can use to help their students acquire the skills needed for summarization (Wormeli, 2005).

  1. Teachers must make sure that students begin with enough background knowledge. For some students, this might mean creating a background.
  2. Teachers must set a purpose. This primes the students' brain, so that they can pay attention and determine what is meaningful.
  3. Teachers must teach students the various ways authors' structure text. Along with teaching text structure, teachers should also use various graphic organizers that students can use to summarize text effectively.
  4. Teachers must chunk longer text into shorter segments. A student's brain will more effectively process information that is "chunked" into shorter segments (Wormeli, 2005).
  5. Teachers must teach students how to engage in text. Often students read over text and have no awareness of what they have just read. Good summarizers read text passages at least twice (Wormeli, 2005). Good summarizers also make notations and mark text.

Learning to effectively summarize can improve student learning and increase student success in all grade levels and across all content areas.

Rule-Based Summarizing Strategy (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001)

  1. Delete trivial material that is unnecessary to understanding.
  2. Delete redundant material.
  3. Substitute subordinate terms for lists.
  4. Select a topic sentence or invent one if it is missing.

66.  Prewriting 

Students must be engaged in activities designed to help them generate and organize ideas for their writing. Engaging students in these activities improves the quality of their writing. Prewriting activities include researching and gathering information on the topic and developing a plan or visual representation of ideas.


Brainstorming, also called listing, is a process of generating a lot of information quickly (individually, in a small group, or as a class) by building on the association of previous terms a student has mentioned. See the brainstorming steps below:

  • Write down all the possible terms you can think about from the general topic
  • Group the items that you have listed according to categories that make sense to you.
  • Label each group. Now you have a topic with possible points of development.
  • Write a sentence about the label you have given the group of ideas. (You now have a topic sentence or possibly a thesis statement.)


Clustering is also called mind mapping or idea mapping. It is a strategy which allows students to explore the relationships between ideas. Here are the clustering steps:

  • Put the subject in the center of a page. Circle or underline it.
  • As you think of other ideas, link the new ideas to the central circle with lines.
  • As you think of ideas that relate to the new ideas, add to those in the same way.

Clustering is especially useful in determining the relationship between ideas. You will be able to distinguish how the ideas are connected together.


Freewriting is a process of generating a lot of information by writing non-stop. It allows you to focus on a specific topic, but forces students to write so quickly that they are unable to edit any of their ideas.

  • Freewrite on the assignment or general topic for about 5-10 minutes non-stop. Students are encouraged to continue writing even if nothing specific comes to mind. This freewriting will include many ideas; students should focus on generating ideas, not the grammar or the spelling.
  • After students finish freewriting, they can look back over what they have written and highlight the most important ideas; then, they can begin all over again, with a more specific focus. This will help them narrow down the topic and generate many ideas about it.


Looping is a freewriting technique that allows students to increasingly focus their ideas in trying to discover a writing topic. Students loop one 5-10 minute freewriting after another, so they have a sequence of freewritings, each more specific than the other. The same rules that apply to freewriting apply to looping: write quickly, do not edit, and do not stop.

When students have finished four or five rounds of looping, they will begin to have specific information that indicates what they are thinking about a particular topic.

The Journalists' Questions

Journalists traditionally ask six questions when they are writing assignments, 5 W's and 1 H: Who?, What?, Where?, When?, Why?, and How? The following are possible generic questions a student can ask using the six journalists' questions:

  • Who?: Who are the participants? Who is affected? Who is the key player?
  • What?: What is the topic? What is the significance of the topic? What is the basic problem? What are the issues?
  • Where?: Where does the activity take place? Where is the source of the problem?
  • When?: When did the issue or problem develop?
  • Why?: Why did the issue or problem arise? Why is it (your topic) an issue or problem at all? Why did the issue or problem develop in the way that it did?
  • How?: How is the issue or problem significant? How can it be addressed? How does it affect the participants? How can the issue or problem be resolved?

The journalists' questions are a powerful way to develop a great deal of information about a topic very quickly. Learning to ask the appropriate questions about a topic takes practice, however. Use the journalists' questions again to clarify important points that may be getting lost in your planning and drafting.

67.  Inquiry Activities  

 Classroom Applications

Additional Resources

According to Writing Next (Graham & Perin, 2007), inquiry means "engaging students in activities that help them develop ideas and content for a particular writing task by analyzing immediate, concrete data (comparing and contrasting cases or collecting and evaluating evidence)" (p.19).

Effective inquiry activities are characterized by a clearly specified goal, analysis of concrete and immediate data, use of specific strategies to conduct analysis, and applying what was learned (p. 19). Students that use data from an event or utilize primary sources as a way of learning about a period of time can obtain a greater sense of the subject. This can help students create accurate and thought–provoking writing pieces.

68.  Process Writing Approach 

Technology & Literacy

When using a process approach to teaching writing, teachers focus on what students think and do as they write. Graves (1994) identified five stages of the writing process: prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing/sharing. Research has shown that the writing process does not take place in a linear manner; rather, writing involves recurring cycles. The stages have been labeled as a way of identifying and discussing writing activities (Graves, 1994; Perl, 1994).

Key Features of the Writing Process

Please follow this link for the key features of the writing process listed by Tompkins (2003).

Classroom Applications


Often, teachers who use a process approach to writing also use reading workshops in their classes; the two go hand-in-hand. The key element of both workshops is student choice; that is, students choose what they read and write. Often, these choices are within boundaries established by teachers. For example, students may choose to read books from an assigned genre and engage in a specified type of writing. Writing in writing workshops may be in response to literature. Writing workshops work best when there is a large block of time for students to write.

Please follow this link for suggestions on how to begin a writing workshop in your classroom.

Effective writing teachers scaffold or support students' writing by demonstrating effective practices, modeling writing, and guiding students through the stages of the writing process. Teachers provide the greatest amount of support when they demonstrate or model how proficient writers complete a writing assignment while students observe. (Modeling can be used for several purposes, including demonstrating how to use writing strategies such as revising and editing, procedures for a new writing activity, and to show how writing conventions work.)  

 69.  Writing for Content Learning

Writing is an effective tool for enhancing students' learning of content area material (p. 20). Writing to learn in the content area provides students with new tools for delving into subject matter and using writing as a tool for thinking (Daniels, Zemelman, & Steineke, 2007).

Writing incorporated into a content area classroom is a catalyst for further learning and meaning making. Writing tasks used to extend learning are often informal, short, unedited, ungraded, and allow students to explore their understanding of content.

Good content writing is a product of quality instruction. Teachers must surround students with examples and models, provide expectations, provide feedback, and provide practice in realistic ways.

Case Study

Writing to Learn Strategies

Please click on each strategy to read the information provided.

Please follow this link for practical suggestions about integrating reading and writing across the content areas

70.  Assessing reading and writing 

Literacy assessment is more than testing; it is an integral and ongoing part of teaching and learning. In this lesson we will focus on formative assessments and summative assessments. Formative assessments are assessments made over time and are meant to provide feedback to teachers and students over the course of instruction. In contrast, summative assessments take place after a period of instruction and involve making a judgment about learning that has occurred. Examples of summative assessments are grades or scores on a test or paper.

Effective teachers identify their goals and plan their instruction at the same time as they develop their assessment plans. Assessment plans include three parts: pre-assessing, monitoring, and assessing (Tompkins, 2003).

Pre-assessment tools that help teachers determine students' prior knowledge include:

  • Creating a KWL chart that brainstorms a list of characteristics about a topic;
  • Creating an anticipation chart; and
  • Quick writing about the topic.

Monitoring tools help teachers monitor students' progress in reading and writing as they observe students participating in reading and writing activities. Monitoring tools include:

  • Taking anecdotal notes to record students' literacy behaviors;
  • Documenting students' writing progress;
  • Analyzing students' spelling development;
  • Conferencing with students about their literacy learning at regular intervals;
  • Listening to students talk during small group and whole class discussions;
  • Reading students' learning log entries; and
  • Collecting and examining students' work samples.

Assessing tools that teachers use to evaluate and grade a students' work at the end of a unit include:

  • Observations of students' oral presentations;
  • Analyzing students' comprehension through graphic representations (charts, Venn diagrams, story maps) that they have made; and
  • Checking students' use of new vocabulary in their written projects.

Authentic assessments may be used as formative monitoring tools. These assessments can be used to evaluate students' writing products. Daniels and Bizar (1998) suggest six strategies teachers can use for authentic assessment. These strategies include portfolios, student conferencesanecdotal recordschecklistsperformance assessment, and classroom tests.


Portfolios are meaningful collections of artifacts documenting students' learning and development over a period of time (DeFina, 1992; Graves & Sunstein, 1992). Teachers embracing a portfolio culture in their classrooms shift their emphasis from the assessment of outcomes through comparative rankings of achievement (grades, percentile rankings, test scores) toward the enhancement of student performance through evaluative feedback and reflection. Portfolios used for assessment are folders, notebooks, or expandable files that contain student work selected by the students as well as teacher-selected student work, teachers' anecdotal observational notes, students written goals for a grading period/year, and may include tests. The unique assessment quality of portfolios is that students help decide some of what goes into their portfolios and engage in goal setting and self-evaluation at regular periods throughout the school year.

Portfolios provide teachers with a wealth of information upon which to base instructional decisions and from which to evaluate student progress. Teachers can use their record of observations and the collection of student work to support the conclusions they draw when reporting to parents. Portfolios can also serve to motivate students and promote student self-assessment and self-understanding (Frazier & Paulson, 1992).

Evidence typically found in student portfolios includes:

  • Student-generated learning goals;
  • Criteria for selecting items for portfolio;
  • Criteria for judging the merits of work in the portfolio;
  • Student's self-reflection on progress toward goals;
  • Samples of student writing;
  • An autobiographical sketch of the student;
  • Learning log entries;
  • Audio and/or videotapes of student performance such as oral reading;
  • Projects from content area learning; and
  • Copies of teachers' anecdotal notes taken in conferences with the student.

Anecdotal records

Teachers write brief, informal notes of student performance during learning activities. Notes also include questions students ask, strategies and skills students are using or not using, as well as notes about students' needs for further instruction. These records can become part of the student's portfolio and are excellent sources of information when conferencing with parents.


Checklists are excellent tools for observing students' abilities to construct meaning from text. Each checklist should contain the qualities or traits you are looking for and a means for recording observed behaviors. Checklists should be specific, easily observable behaviors that are age-appropriate. Checklists can be set up in different formats ranging from very simple, checking yes or no, to more complex, rating skills on a scale.


During conferences, teachers talk with students individually about student learning goals, progress in achieving goals, and help students solve problems. Usually these conferences are brief and impromptu and are held at a student's desk as the teacher moves around the classroom. Tompkins (2003) identified several types of conferences used by teachers engaged in literacy assessment.

  • On-the-spot conferences - Often lasting less than a minute, these conferences usually take place at the student's desk. Teachers monitor some aspect of the student's work or check on the student's progress.
  • Pre-reading or prewriting conferences - Teacher and student together talk about a new reading or writing assignment and plan for the reading or writing activity. Teachers give students the immediate support they need to begin an assignment.
  • Revision conferences - Teachers meet with small groups of students to provide feedback on student writing and suggest revision strategies to improve.
  • Book or text discussion conferences - Typically, this is an after-reading conference. When teachers meet with students after completing a reading assignment, they discuss entries in learning logs and the plot or content of the reading, clarify points or vocabulary, and/or plan extension activities.
  • Editing conferences - After students have proofread their compositions, teachers meet with students individually to correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and other mechanical errors in the writing.
  • Assessment conferences - Teachers meet individually with students after they have completed an assignment or project to talk about their growth. At these conferences, students reflect on their progress and set new learning goals

Performance assessments

Performance assessment requires students to perform a task rather than select an answer from a ready-made list on a traditional test. For example, a student may be asked to explain historical events, generate scientific hypotheses, solve math problems, converse in a foreign language, or conduct research on an assigned topic. Teachers then judge the quality of the student's work based on an agreed-upon set of criteria. Two kinds of performances often used by classroom teachers are:

Open-ended or extended response exercises are questions or other prompts that require students to explore a topic orally or in writing. Students might be asked to describe their observations from a science experiment or present arguments an historic character would make concerning a particular proposition. For example, what would Abraham Lincoln argue about the causes of the Civil War?

Extended tasks are assignments that require sustained attention in a single work area and are carried out over several hours or longer. Such tasks could include drafting, reviewing, and revising a poem; conducting and explaining the results of a science experiment on photosynthesis; or even painting a car in an auto shop.

Classroom Applications

Classroom Tests

Daniels and Bizar (1998) state that in best practice classrooms, teacher-made tests often test students' higher-order, conceptual understanding rather than factual recall. These tests are used formatively to monitor and guide students' instruction and serve as one ingredient of a comprehensive assessment program. 

71.  Teaching for understanding in content areas 

Page Two - Introduction

Page Three - Reading in the Content Areas

Page Four - Literacy in the Information Age

Page Five - Strategic Teaching

Page Six - Additional Considerations for Content Area Reading

 72.  Anticipation Guide-graphic Organizer

Venn Diagrams

Effective Reading Strategy: Anticipation Guide

Anticipation Guides are used as a before reading strategy to help activate and evaluate students’ prior knowledge. Students can use the anticipation guide during reading to collect information on their predictions and return to it after reading to evaluate the accuracy of their predictions. Anticipation guides engage students in thought and discussion about ideas they will encounter in the text. They are often structured as a series of statements with which the students can choose to agree or disagree. They can focus on students’ prior knowledge about the text, or the "big ideas" or essential questions posed (implicitly or explicitly) by the writer as a way for the readers to clarify his/her opinions before reading the text and then compare them to the writer’s message as they read.


73.  Strategic Teaching 
Classroom Applications

Pre-reading strategies

Prior to reading, students must have opportunities to activate background knowledge, develop an understanding of technical vocabulary they will encounter in the reading, preview and make predictions about the text, examine the features of the text, establish a purpose for reading, and generate questions they have about the topic.

Please click on the Classroom Applications icon on the left for several pre-reading strategies content area teachers can use with their students. Click on each strategy to find out how to use this strategy in your classroom.

Classroom Applications

During Reading Strategies

While reading, students must construct mental images, reflect and monitor their understanding, ask questions about the text, summarize what they have read, and organize and remember information.

Please click on the Classroom Applications icon on the left for several during reading strategies content area teachers can use with their students. Click on each strategy to find out how to use this strategy in your classroom.

Classroom Applications

Amy Cann on pre-reading strategies
video icon

After Reading Strategies

After students have read, they must review, paraphrase, summarize, and interpret what they have read.

Please click on the Classroom Applications icon on the left for several after reading strategies content area teachers can use with their students. Click on each strategy to find out how to use this strategy in your classroom. 

74.  More considerations for content area reading 

Classroom Applications

Technology & Literacy

How to Use a Textbook

The issue in content areas is not how many pages were covered for the year, but how much understanding really took place. Will students remember anything about the French Revolution by May? Will they be able to draw connections between the French and American Revolution? We have to keep in mind that for meaning to be constructed, students need an opportunity to develop a deep understanding of concepts and ideas presented through the content. Students need time to absorb the concepts, good instruction, support for their learning, and good materials. Teachers must present the content in a logical manner, require assignments that demonstrate varying levels of knowledge, and support students as they learn.

Classroom Applications icon

Expository Text Structure

Unfortunately, not all students enjoy reading expository text. While most read narrative texts (stories) successfully, many lack the skills to read and understand expository text. This frustration and lack of interest can affect their learning in the content areas and even their attitudes toward reading in the secondary grades.

What are some of the challenges of informational text?

  • Readers have insufficient prior knowledge about topics.
  • Readers are unfamiliar with the organizational text structures.
  • Vocabulary is technical and specialized.
  • Students may not understand how to use organizational features such as diagrams, charts, etc.
  • Student motivation may be affected as text focuses on information.
  • Text may be inconsiderate (i.e., lacking in organization, cohesiveness, engagement poorly written, or inappropriate for grade level; writers of inconsiderate text do not consider what students are likely to know).

Students entering the 4th grade are inundated by expository text (e.g., social studies, science, history, geography, art, mathematics). Expository text is often more difficult than narrative text because it does not rely on a single text structure and includes unfamiliar technical vocabulary, making it more difficult to understand. Students need consistent explicit strategy instruction on how to organize, study, construct meaning from, connect information, and reflect upon expository text. Teacher modeling and extensive feedback are important components in helping students comprehend expository text.

Text factors relate primarily to the differences between narrative and expository style writing. The following table shows some of the key differences between narrative and expository text. Please follow this link for some of the key differences between narrative and expository text.

75.  Developing academic vocabulary 

The following strategies can support students' development of effective, strategic expository text reading strategies.

Vocabulary instruction has a significant effect on student comprehension of academic content. A student's knowledge level of a particular topic is contingent upon the terms s/he knows relating to that topic. For example, students who understand the content of marine biology have an understanding of terms such as ecology, aquatic biology, evolution, macroevolution, microevolution, speciation, marine culture, microbial world, reefs, estuaries, etc. The deeper the understanding students have of these terms, the easier it will be for them to understand further information on the topic. Systematic instruction in content area terms is necessary for developing students' academic vocabulary and background knowledge. 

76.  Word Builder-graphic organizer 

Additional Resources on 6 Thinking Hats

Effective Reading Strategy: Word Builder

The "Word Builder" strategy is a simple way to teach and build students’ morphemic analysis, vocabulary knowledge, and skills. The words can be assigned by the teacher before reading, during reading, or after reading. As an alternative, the word builder can be used with whole class, small group, or individual vocabulary instruction to model how to determine or infer words meaning by examining word meaningful parts (i.e., prefixes, suffixes, roots, etc.).

 77.  What will it take to accelerate our students' progress?

Content area literacy instruction will not get the job done for some students; reading interventions cannot get the job done alone; differentiated intensity is based on need; "adequate" progress is different with a struggling reader. Florida’s statewide reading assessment plan for instruction in grades K-12 is designed to include assessment of PreK, vocabulary, and comprehension, automatic reporting without data entry, Lexile scores in grades 3-12 that will allow matching students to text and access to online libraries, and it identifies risk of reading difficulties. Other benefits of this statewide assessment plan include the use of an efficient broad screen to predict K-12 student success in reading, access to free assessment tools designed to guide instruction, and linking of expanded curricular supports to assessment results. To learn more about Florida’s statewide reading assessment plan please view the following presentation:

  Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading PDF [PDF: 68 pages / 3.7mb] - presented by Dr. Barbara Foorman and Dr. Evan Lefsky at FETC 2009.

78. Create vocabulary quizzes with word searches, word list, sentence completion


79. Cool Language Arts activities


80. Academic Vocabulary List


81. Grammar PowerPoints


82. Grammar Lesson


83. Great Writing Resources  

From scholastic: (Book fair???)


84. New standards