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Blending Multiple Genres in Theme Baskets

The theme-basket concept of literature instruction combines several approaches known to work with marginalized readers, students with learning disabilities, and ELLs: 1) a thematic approach to teaching literature, 2) the use of children’s books in secondary classrooms, 3) the coupling of young adult books with the classics, and 4) capitalizing on young adults’ background knowledge, interests, and skills in reading multiple genres. This article includes a sample theme basket with The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck as its centerpiece.

Cognitive Strategies Toolkit

This article describes eight cognitive strategies — including monitoring, tapping prior knowledge, and making predictions — to help readers develop their comprehension skills.

Create Reading Accountability

Engaged, accountable reading requires students to interpret, and respond, often creatively. This article suggests several personalized ways to hold students accountable for their reading.

Critical Thinking: Why Is It So Hard to Teach?

Learning critical thinking skills can only take a student so far. Critical thinking depends on knowing relevant content very well and thinking about it, repeatedly. Here are five strategies, consistent with the research, to help bring critical thinking into the everyday classroom.

Direct, Explicit Comprehension Strategy Instruction

Comprehension strategies are routines and procedures that readers use to help them make sense of texts. Struggling adolescent readers need direct, explicit instruction in comprehension strategies to improve their reading comprehension.

Expect Students to Activate, Connect and Summarize Daily

The activate, connect, and summarize daily routine can help struggling adolescent readers acquire new content. It consists of asking students to activate (what did we learn yesterday?), connect (draw a connection between your life and the topic that we’ll discuss today), and summarize (give me a keyword or phrase that describes today’s lesson) in the classroom everyday.

Explicit Comprehension Strategy Instruction

Use explicit strategy instruction to make visible the invisible comprehension strategies that good readers use to understand text. Support students until they can use the strategies independently. Recycle and re-teach strategies throughout the year.

For Teens, Phonics Isn't Enough

Schools often struggle to find appropriate materials and approaches to support adolescent literacy. Strategies that work for children can ignore teens’ existing skills, knowledge, and life experience, and exclude them from the critical content that their peers are studying. Here are some effective teaching strategies for struggling older students.

Helping Students Improve Their Performance on Reading Comprehension Tests

This article describes some of the thought processes that can help students perform well on standardized tests of reading comprehension. It includes two reading passages along with sample test questions that call on skills that eighth grade students should master to be on track for college readiness. Also included are explanations for the correct answer choices.