Literacy Framework

In many schools, significant percentages of students are performing below grade level. Many of the student have prior learning deficits in the area of reading/literacy. Literacy across the curriculum is one of the key concepts in our Common Instructional Framework, a key component in our High Impact Instructional Strategies, a key component in our High Engagement Strategies, and should be part of every classroom everyday since literacy is a foundational skill that crosses all curricula. We focus on three distinct literacy/reading strategies that have been proven through research including:

1. Reading for Meaning

2. Ink Think (Annotating Text)

3. Vocabulary CODE

Reading for Meaning

“Reading for meaning” means students focus on discussing and understanding what they are reading, not just pronouncing the words correctly. Adults can help kids “read for meaning” by asking two main types of questions – literal and inferential.

The Research Behind Reading for Meaning

Reading for Meaning is deeply informed by a line of research known as comprehension instruction. Some scholars attribute the beginning of the comprehension instruction movement to Dolores Durkin's (1978/1979) study "What Classroom Observations Reveal About Reading Comprehension Instruction." Durkin discovered that most teachers were setting students up for failure by making the false assumption that comprehension—the very thing students were being tested on—did not need to be taught. As long as students were reading the words correctly and fluently, teachers assumed that they were "getting it."

Thanks in part to Durkin's findings, a new generation of researchers began investigating the hidden skills and cognitive processes that underlie reading comprehension. A number of researchers (see, for example, Pressley & Afflerbach, 1995; Wyatt et al., 1993) focused their attention on a simple but unexplored question: What do great readers do when they read? By studying the behaviors of skilled readers, these researchers reached some important conclusions about what it takes to read for meaning, including these three:

  1. Good reading is active reading. Pressley (2006) observed, "In general, the conscious processing that is excellent reading begins before reading, continues during reading, and persists after reading is completed" (p. 57). Thus, good readers are actively engaged not onlyduring reading but also before reading (when they call up what they already know about the topic and establish a purpose for reading) and after reading (when they reflect on and seek to deepen their understanding).

  2. Comprehension involves a repertoire of skills, or reading and thinking strategies.Zimmermann and Hutchins (2003) synthesize the findings of the research on proficient readers by identifying "seven keys to comprehension," a set of skills that includes making connections to background knowledge, drawing inferences, and determining importance.

  3. These comprehension skills can be taught successfully to nearly all readers, including young and emerging readers. In Mosaic of Thought (2007), Keene and Zimmermann show how teachers at all grade levels teach comprehension skills in their classrooms. What's more, a wide body of research shows that teaching students comprehension skills has "a significant and lasting effect on students' understanding" (Keene, 2010, p. 70).

Reading for Meaning is designed around these research findings. The strategy breaks reading into three phases (before, during, and after reading) and develops in students of all ages the processing skills they need during each phase to build deep understanding.

Ink Think (Annotating Text)

Annotating a text is when the reader “marks up” a text to indicate places of importance or something they don’t understand. Teaching annotation strategies will help students keep track of key ideas while reading. Sometimes students annotate by circling a word, underlining a phrase or highlighting a sentence. Annotating also includes writing notes in the margin; these notes might be thoughts or questions about the text. This process of annotating helps the reader keep track of ideas and questions and supports deeper understanding of the text.

The benefits of annotation include:

  • Keeping track of key ideas and questions

  • Helping formulate thoughts and questions for deeper understanding

  • Fostering analyzing and interpreting texts

  • Encouraging the reader to make inferences and draw conclusions about the text

  • Allowing the reader to easily refer back to the text without rereading the text in its entirety

Vocabulary CODE

"Vocabulary's CODE is a strategic approach to direct vocabulary instruction that helps students master crucial concepts and retain new vocabulary terms. Students work their way from initial exposure to in-depth understanding through a series of progressive learning activities, which help students 'crack' Vocabulary's CODE." (Silver, Dewing, Perini, p. 65)

There are three reasons for using Vocabulary's CODE with the Common Core:

1. Vocabulary is a foundation for improved literacy.Half of the Common Core Achor Standards for Language are vocabulary standards. Vocabulary is found in every area of literacy and is a foundational skill.

2. Academic vocabulary is at the core of the Core. Academic and domain-specific vocabulary are words that students are expected to understand and use to meet Common Core State Standards for Reading, Writing, and Speaking and Listening.

3. Vocabulary fuels learning. Direct vocabulary instruction increases students' ability to comprehend and retain what we are teaching today while preparing students to be better learners in the future.