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Recommendations for Improving Adolescent Literacy

U.S. Department of Education
In its practice guide Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices, the Dept. of Education offers five recommendations for increasing the reading ability of adolescents. Those recommendations are summarized in this checklist.

Provide explicit vocabulary instruction

  • Dedicate a portion of regular classroom lessons to explicit vocabulary instruction.
  • Provide repeated exposure to new words in multiple contexts, and allow sufficient practice sessions in vocabulary instruction.
  • Give sufficient opportunities to use new vocabulary in a variety of contexts through activities such as discussion, writing, and extended reading.
  • Provide students with strategies to make them independent vocabulary learners.
  • For more information, read the following article:
    Explicit Vocabulary Instruction

Provide direct and explicit comprehension strategy instruction

  • Select carefully the text to use when beginning to teach a given strategy.
  • Show students how to apply the strategies they are learning to different texts.
  • Make sure that the text is appropriate for the reading level of students.
  • Use a direct and explicit instruction lesson plan for teaching students how to use comprehension strategies.
  • Provide the appropriate amount of guided practice depending on the difficulty level of the strategies that students are learning.
  • Talk about comprehension strategies while teaching them.
  • For more details, read the following article:
    Direct, Explicit Comprehension Strategy Instruction

Provide opportunities for extended discussion of text meaning and interpretation

  • Carefully prepare for the discussion by selecting engaging materials and developing stimulating questions.
  • Ask follow-up questions that help provide continuity and extend the discussion.
  • Provide a task or discussion format that students can follow when they discuss text in small groups.
  • Develop and practice the use of a specific “discussion protocol.”
  • For more details, read:
    Extended Discussion of Text Meaning and Interpretation

Increase student motivation and engagement in literacy learning

  • Establish meaningful and engaging content learning goals around the essential ideas of a discipline as well as around the specific learning processes used to access those ideas.
  • Provide a positive learning environment that promotes student autonomy in learning.
  • Make literacy experiences more relevant to student interests, everyday life, or important current events.
  • Build classroom conditions to promote higher reading engagement and conceptual learning through such strategies as goal setting, self-directed learning, and collaborative learning.
  • For more details, read:
    Student Motivation and Engagement in Literacy Learning

Offer intensive individualized interventions for struggling readers that can be provided by qualified specialists

  • Use reliable screening assessments to identify students with reading difficulties and follow up with formal and informal assessments to pinpoint each student’s instructional needs.
  • Select an intervention that provides an explicit instructional focus to meet each student’s identified learning needs.
  • Provide interventions where intensiveness matches student needs: the greater the instructional need, the more intensive the intervention. Assuming a high level of instructional quality, the intensity of interventions is related most directly to the size of instructional groups and amount of instructional time.
  • For more details, read:
    Intensive, Individualized Interventions for Struggling Readers