The Concepts

These ideas are starting
places, the governing
concepts behind
how we embed literacy
in every classroom.


Four Components
All four are described on this page.

All Students Think
Students need to grapple
with challenging work.

Students need specific skills
to practice before, during,
and after
they read a text...
especially DURING.

They'll remember 70%
Students need to collaborate
with their peers. Here's why.

Indiv-Small Grp-Lg Grp
This structure allows students
time to explore an idea

Friends Don't Let Friends
Read Round Robin
Why not?
RR Alternatives
(Scroll through
the why not
to find a long list
of alternate activities.)


The Strategies

These strategies work
in nearly any content area
to help students
    Grapple with problems,
    Interact with text,
    Collaborate with each other,
    or Write.
Sometimes, all four components
are present in one strategy.
See which ones work best for you.

all strategies on one page


to create writing prompts

Focused Free-Write

a vocabulary exercise

a vocabulary exercise

Circle Underline Star



for document analysis

to compare and contrast

a T-chart with one more layer

  Social Studies



    for analyzing images


      to analyze poetry

to analyze short informational texts

Students should be asking them!

use symbols to interact with text

have a conversation with the text


           discussion protocol
           that helps all students
           have a voice

Get to the Heart of the Message

Literacy in Every Classroom

Literacy in Every Classroom

Literacy is not just for reading anymore.
It includes reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking,
and it can be integrated into any content area.

In fact, TLE #7 requires teachers to integrate literacy into other parts of the school day,
to use it as the glue that holds all learning together.

This page provides some resources and guidance for doing just that.

Here's a  you can watch on your own or share with your PLC.

Use this  while you play the slideshow.

Here is a  for a rudimentary lesson plan that includes all four components.

What does it look like?

Literacy Lookfor Tools

What does a classroom look like when literacy is embedded in the curriculum?
Use these lookfors to guide you:

     Long form offers space for your notes.                       Short form lists characteristics.

Four Components

The lookfor tools list characteristics of a classroom where literacy is embedded most effectively,

and they are divided into four parts for these four components: Grapple, Interact, Collaborate, and Write.

Read below for more info on these four components.


The learning happens in the struggle. If we want our students to learn, then we must carefully create that struggle for our students. Too much struggle without guidance and they will give up. Not enough struggle and they become bored and give up in a different way. When we give our students tasks that are too simple, they think we doubt their ability.  When the simple tasks come at them all the time, they start to doubt themselves.

Changing this cycle is not easy. If students resist, we must give more guidance and encouragement, not easier work.

Instead of delivering information, present mysteries and problems for students to solve.  As they solve the mysteries, they will uncover the information for themselves and remember it better. Essential questions can be good grappling points, but remember that instead of giving students answers, we have to guide them to find their own answers.

                  SCIENCE: Are animals required for humankind's survival? Explain.
                  MATH: When should I multiply? When is multiplying not an option?
                  SOCIAL STUDIES: Why does the textbook include _____ in this chapter
                                               instead of in the next chapter?

                  LANGUAGE ARTS: What is the connection between reading and writing?
                  TECHNOLOGY: What are your top eight priorities when producing a news video?
                  PHYSICAL EDUCATION: What are the two most important rules in basketball?  Why?
                  ART: What choices must a painter make before beginning a work? How are a painter's
                                               choices different from those a sculptor makes?

                  WORLD LANGUAGE: How is Spanish like English?  How is it unlike English?

The strategies are all listed and linked on the left side of this page.
The ones that focus best on Grappling are:
Concept Circles
Frayer Model
Math Translation
Levels of Questions


Just assigning a reading is not enough to get students interacting with text. To interact, they must move beyond just decoding the words. Students must enter into a dialogue with the text in some way. They can ask questions or mark new words or indicate things they disagree with, but they must do this AS THEY READ. Also, the teacher must specify the skill for students to practice and train them in how to practice it.

The strategies are all listed and linked on the left side of this page.
The ones that focus best on Interacting with text are:
Dialectical Journal



Students learn much from reading and from listening, but the more active they are in their learning, the more they remember.  One way to involve students more is to build collaborative structures into every lesson. A teacher could utilize a simple turn-and-talk with a partner or a more elaborate grouping system planned well in advance. The class could be split into four groups for smaller discussions or an inner and outer circle for large group discussion.

However, collaboration does not just happen magically. Teachers must set clear procedures for all parts of the collaboration: from students' movement into groups, to eye contact and use of other students' names, to resetting the desks at the end. Students need teachers to coach them in polite and respectful communication. Teachers must be clear about their expectations and be willing to reiterate them. Collaboration has many moving parts, but learning to manage them in a classroom pays off.

Students will talk to each other whether or not we give them class time for it, but we can structure class talk to ensure that it is more productive and related to the learning. One of the best structures to build students' collaborative skills is Individual-Small Group-Large Group. Have students answer a simple question or tackle an introductory task individually.  Then they can discuss it with a small group and come to a consensus.  Finally, the whole class will talk about all of their different answers with the teacher as moderator.  As students learn to explore their thinking through discussion, they become more confident participants in class, and they learn more.

The strategies are all listed and linked on the left side of this page.
Any of those strategies can include a Collaborative element,
and some examples are listed below:

6Cs                             Complete the work in table groups.
R.A.F.T.                       Share what you wrote and make improvements to your piece.
F.F.W.                         Find and share the most important sentence from your writing.
Math Translation       Tell us how you solved the problem differently.
C.U.S.                         After individually, students determine a main idea together.
D.B.Q.                        Part of D.B.Q. called "thrashout" is a group task, but other parts can be too.
TP-CASTT                  Do the poem analysis as a class.
Levels of Questions   Use student-written questions as the core of the discussion.


Students should write something as part of every lesson. The parts of this process work together to deepen the learning that is happening. Brains work one way when they grapple with a problem and a different way as they interact with a text to find answers. Brains function differently when students collaborate and discuss ideas with each other, and there is yet another function that occurs as students distill their thinking and write an answer.

Students do not have to write an essay in order to fulfill the writing component.   They just need to turn their thinking into some kind of writing--a sentence or two, a paragraph, a diagram, an illustration, a poem, some elaboration of their notes, an essay, or a story. It might be as quick as an exit ticket or as involved as a weeks-long writing assignment. It might be the stating of their own opinion or a deeply researched explanation of someone else's. The trick is that as they have to write SOMETHING, they are figuring out what they think on the topic and making a record of that.

The strategies are all listed and linked on the left side of this page.
The ones that focus best on Writing are:
F.F.W. (focused free-write)
Math Translation
Dialectical Journal
6 Cs

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