The Strategy

Professional development must be initiated strategically by leaders who have a strategic vision based on the needs of their schools and the principles of adult learning.

Our course, Action Planning for Disciplinary Literacy, ensures that every district-based Reading Ways site leader has been introduced to our coaching approach and developed a strategic plan for supporting cross-disciplinary literacy at his or her school. Dr. Jacy Ippolito developed this course around the concepts set forth in Cultivating Coaching Mindsets: An Action Guide for Literacy Leaders (written with Dr. Rita Bean).

Our mental models and frames shape how we think about our work and how we think about change processes. Much of coaching work is about helping colleagues, other adult learners, to become more reflective practitioners and shift their instruction slowly to improve outcomes for students. However, if the work of coaching is viewed through a purely technical lens (Heifetz et al., 2009) or as single-loop learning (Argrys & Schon, 1974, 1996), in other words, learning that simply requires detection of a problem and implementation of a known solution, then this frame for coaching will likely not produce the deep, systemic changes that most literacy leadership work is meant to provoke.  –  Bean and Ippolito

Our course introduces some of the big ideas in adult professional learning and provides guidance, examples, and specific tools for school leaders as they set out to determine the literacy needs in their schools and develop plans to meet those needs.

AdLit Common Core CoverIf after completing this course your team determines it is time to become a Reading Ways Partner School, we step into action. We work with your school’s leadership team to refine and implement the plan developed by the RW site leader. Most schools use our book, Adolescent Literacy in the Era of the Common Core, as a key text. Depending on the plan the site leader develops, we may use some or all the following:

  • Kick-off events featuring members of the RW team
  • Daylong or multi-day workshops
  • Leadership consultations
  • Online course participation for teachers (for graduate credit or not)
  • Print materials (posters, strategy guides, reading text sets)
  • Printables (hundreds of online materials that can be altered and adapted)

If you want to get started, contact us now. We will follow up immediately to get you or a member of your staff enrolled in Action Planning for Disciplinary Literacy.

The Team

EVERYONE THAT YOU WILL WORK WITH HERE STRONGLY BELIEVES IN THE CAUSE.

Every team member has been a teacher, literacy coach, and researcher. We work exclusively with middle and high schools to help content-area teams meet adolescents’ literacy needs.

Proven tools and approaches for Purposeful Instruction.

We have created hundreds of resources in for teaching math, science, history, world languages and more. More importantly, they are clearly organized and labeled, alterable, and clearly aligned with our online and in-person courses. Our goal is to help you share your passion for learning in your discipline by making text more accessible for your students.

Course descriptions of each high quality course are available through links on the right.

 

How can literacy tools and strategies enable students to learn and communicate content knowledge? In this foundation-building course, we discuss the challenges adolescents face reading, writing and communicating in their various academic content classes and introduce a framework for thinking about disciplinary literacy tools and strategies to support learning across academic disciplines. We also introduce the six domains of disciplinary literacy (disciplinary literacy, vocabulary, discussion, digital literacy, multiple texts, and writing to learn) that will help to form a bridge between teacher instructional strategies and student content learning. Finally, we introduce our publications and website resources that will help teachers enhance their instruction to meet context specific student learning challenges.

 

Objectives:

  • Identify factors that make reading and writing challenging for students in your discipline.
  • Identify domains of disciplinary literacy that are strengths and weaknesses in your department and/or classroom.

Core tasks:

  • Read and reflect on a framework for bridging content knowledge and literacy knowledge to instruction.
  • Examine the texts you currently use in class and identify how they might be challenging for your students to read and understand.
  • Examine a model of reading and identify the various skills that comprise skilled reading.

Extensions:

What are the various text types that students encounter and how can we help them read and make sense of this vast variety? In this course we introduce these texts and the habits of mind that experts use to build and communicate knowledge in their fields. We highlight some of the challenges these texts pose to students and how disciplinary literacy tools and strategies can help students learn content information. In the second part of this course, we explore ways to build disciplinary literacy teaching and learning skills school and district wide.

Key concepts: disciplinary pedagogy, three levels of literacy skill (basic, general, discipline specific), strategy adaption

Objectives:

  • To begin to understand the language and habits of mind that make your discipline unique.
  • To start examining the texts you currently use, how they match your curriculum objectives and what you need to explicitly teach students to help them navigate the text and build an understanding of the content.

 

Core tasks:

  • Read chapters 2 and 3 of Adolescent Literacy in the Era of the Common Core
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of the texts you currently use in class.
  • Identify the habits of mind or the thinking students need to learn and communicate knowledge in your discipline.
  • Examine a lesson in your curriculum in light of what you have learned thus far about the range of texts and the habits of mind used in your discipline. Adapt a reading strategy to help students adopt a key habit of mind, or way of thinking, in your discipline.

 

Extensions:

  • Explore shop disciplinary literacy resources

Why is vocabulary knowledge so important? In this course we introduce key research pertaining to vocabulary teaching and learning, the socio-economic effects on early word learning, how vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension are related, and the associated instructional implications for secondary teachers. We then overview how academic language is challenging for students, which kinds of words to spend time teaching, and the particulars of facilitating word learning with English language learners and other student populations. Finally, we introduce an interdisciplinary vocabulary-learning program and online tools that can help you decipher which words are most important to teach in the content specific texts you use in class.

 Key concepts: general academic words, content-specific words, Word Generation program, signal words, text structure

Objectives:

  1. Build an understanding the relationship between vocabulary knowledge and content reading comprehension.
  2. Determine which words in a given disciplinary text to explicitly teach
  3. Learn about an interdisciplinary general academic word-learning program.
  4. Build an understanding of the incremental nature of word learning.

Core tasks:

  1. Read chapter 4, Research in Vocabulary: Word Power for Content Learning, and reflect on key research in academic vocabulary teaching and learning.
  2. Explore Word Generation
  3. Analyze text with Wordsift

Extensions:

  • Word Generation website: https://wordgen.serpmedia.org
  • See “Shop” for Signal Word and Academic Word List Resources and other key vocabulary resources

 

 

In this course we introduce a three-part framework to enhance discipline specific vocabulary learning within the context of your unit and lesson learning goals. These three interconnected pieces are: 1) create a language-rich, word curious classroom; 2) teach word-learning strategies; and 3) strategically choose which words to teach. You will learn ways to create a language rich learning environment, learn a variety of strategies to enhance vocabulary concept learning in your classroom, and learn to use a framework to help you choose which words to teach. Finally, we introduce some key word learning strategies from our shop and how you might adapt them to meet your context and learning objectives.

Key concepts: Frayer model, foot-in-the-door words

Objectives:

  • To learn a three-part way to think about vocabulary teaching and learning in your discipline and context.
  • Use a framework to determine which words to teach
  • To select and adapt a word learning strategy to fit your lesson objectives and classroom context.

 

Core tasks:

  • Read and reflect on chapter 5, a practically oriented chapter about content area vocabulary teaching and learning.
  • Peruse some key word learning strategies on our website, select one and adapting it to your lesson and context.

 

Extensions:

  • Explore vocabulary learning strategies in the shop
  • List of common morphemes and their definitions
  • Link to more vocabulary-learning strategies and other articles, such as Flanigan and Greenwood’s and Beck and McGowen

 

 

What is the relationship between rich discussion, reading comprehension, writing and deep learning? According to Erdmann and Metzger (2013), “Discussion is the queen of lesson plans: an essential, prominent, but often under-taught tool for the classroom teacher. Although discussion is the most difficult classroom format to plan and to manage, it is also the ultimate bridge between reading and writing.” In this course we explore these connections, discuss the qualities of productive classroom talk, and explore the types of topics and questions that lend themselves to fertile discussion and debate. We also explore why productive classroom discussion is so hard to achieve and introduce some strategies and resources that can help you incorporate rich discussion into your lesson planning.

Objective:

In this course we will consider the qualities of rich discussion and learn essential tools and strategies to enable your students to participate in and ultimately lead rich discussion about disciplinary ideas, challenges and solutions.

 

Core tasks:

  • Read chapter 7, which was written by practitioners about teaching and learning via discussion. You will then reflect on the major points.
  • Watch a video about adapting talk protocols and sentence starters and how to assess discussion.
  • Select and adapt a discussion protocol or technique to fit your lesson content learning objectives and your classroom context.

 

How can you facilitate high quality discussions in your classroom that broaden student perspective and deepen learning and understanding of content material? In this course we further explore the connection between rich classroom discussion and content learning and examine a variety of talk moves and discussion strategies that engage students and extend and deepen learning. We also examine ways to create a classroom environment where students feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, opinions and ideas and listen to, consider and build understanding through peer conversations. Finally, we view and reflect on a variety of rich classroom discussions in a variety of content areas.

 

Objective:

To incorporate effective questions and talk moves into your instruction that can yield productive discussion and debate and learn how to create a classroom environment that supports it.

 

Core tasks:

  • Read chapter 6, which introduces you to the major research regarding the connection between high quality discussion and student academic achievement and reflect on the major points.
  • Watch videos involving teacher talk moves and high quality classroom discussion in a variety of content areas.
  • Integrate and adapt a simple discussion tool or strategy into one of your lesson plans.

 

 

How do we best match student reading/skill level with the appropriate text? In this course we examine the features of text that can make them hard for students to read and understand. We also explore both qualitative and quantitative tools that will help you assess how complex a text is and how to use this information to better match the text you use with the students in your classroom. We also explore the connection between the text, the student and the activity, so that you can better design active and engaging classroom activities that facilitate student learning from text. We then explore the strengths and weaknesses of various text complexity measures and how they can be both useful and misleading. Finally, we examine how to make text features and structures transparent to your students in ways that will help them better read and understand content area texts.

 

Objective:

To use and analyze both quantitative and qualitative measures of text complexity with your own disciplinary texts in order to better get the right match between the reader, the text and the activity.

 

Core tasks:

  • Watch a video that introduces you to the most common text structures and the signal words that indicate these structures. When text structure is made transparent to students, reading comprehension increases (citation?)
  • Analyze the text structure of three different texts used in your curriculum.
  • Determine the readability or text complexity of samples of disciplinary text and think about how to best support your students in comprehending these texts.

 

Extensions:

  • Explore the shop for text complexity resources
  • Beginners guide to text complexity
  • How to read a math text book
  • Guide to producing interactive reading guides
  • Handout of 6 major expository text types
  • Useful websites that support text complexity analysis

Why use more than a textbook? In this course you will be introduced to the research supporting the use of a range of texts and text types to promote the critical thinking, strategic reading and perspective taking skills that deepen content learning. You will also learn about how to create different kinds of text sets that expand student entry points, extend information and broaden perspectives on the core ideas, issues and challenges in your discipline. In addition, you will be introduced to various ways you can support students in building an understanding of content ideas using multiple texts. Finally, you will choose and adapt a strategy that will support the understanding of multiple texts that fit your lesson objectives and the students in your classroom.

 

Objective:

To build an understanding of the research supporting the use of multiple texts in secondary content classrooms, how to build text sets and how to match your text selection to both your content objectives and the students in front of you.

 

Core tasks:

  • Read and reflect on the research supporting multiple text use.
  • Read and reflect on the practical aspects of using multiple texts.
  • Learn how to build effective text sets.
  • Create a text set that supports a unit you are teaching in your curriculum.
  • Adapt a strategy to support student understanding and synthesis of multiple text.

 

Extensions:

  • Explore text set examples in the Shop.

 

 

Ways of Thinking and Working Like a Coach.

Our courses introduce some of the big ideas in adult professional learning, and provide guidance, examples and specific tools for school leaders as they set out to determine the literacy needs in their school and develop a plan to meet those needs.

Please explore the course descriptions to learn more.

Why is it powerful “to think like a coach when beginning to design a literacy professional learning project? In this module, we overview the field of disciplinary literacy and introduce the four-part coaching framework that can effectively drive your capacity building work with teachers. You will also be asked to think about the current state of literacy teaching and learning in your context and then determine the next steps needed to build a strong disciplinary literacy professional learning initiative.

Objective:

  • Participants will begin to think about the rationale and goals of a disciplinary literacy professional learning project and identify a target team of teachers who will participate in this initiative.

Core Tasks:

    • Watch brief video introduction and course overview, by Jacy Ippolito (Introduction)
    • Read Chapter 1 of Adolescent Literacy in the Era of the Common Core (Lesson 1)
    • Read Chapter 1 of Cultivating Coaching Mindsets (Lesson 2)
    • Complete Part 1 of the Literacy Leader Action Plan Template (Lesson 3)

Extensions:

Why is an effective literacy assessment necessary in designing professional learning? This module will introduce you to the six critical steps in designing a literacy needs assessment that will inform you of the literacy teaching and learning strengths and areas of need in your school or district, which is essential to know in designing a strong disciplinary literacy professional learning initiative. We also provide access to the Carnegie Content Area Literacy Survey, which is an easily alterable online survey tool that you can use with teachers and students. Analysis of this survey data can help you determine the next steps in the design of your professional learning project.

Objective:

To design and conduct a literacy needs assessment to determine your areas of strength and need in literacy teaching and learning.

The six critical steps to assist those involved in conducting a needs assessment, as outlined by Bean and Ippolito (2017) are:

  1. Identify the needs assessment goal(s).
  2. Design or select the needs assessment tool that aligns with your goal(s).
  3. Determine sources of data.
  4. Determine how data will be collected.
  5. Decide on the audiences to be consulted.
  6. Analysis of data.

Core Tasks:

  • Watch a brief video where Jacy Ippolito outlines the importance and process of needs assessment in designing an effective professional learning project (Introduction).
  • Read Ch. 9 of CCM about school-wide literacy and needs assessments (Lesson 1) and answer the reflection questions.
  • Using the Carnegie Content Area Literacy Survey (Lesson 2), think about how you might alter this tool to fit your goals and context.
  • Complete Part 2 of the Literacy Leader Action Plan Template (Lesson 3)

Why should we differentiate learning for adults? In this third module, you will learn the importance of differentiating the learning for the adults in your school. You will learn enough about Constructive Developmental Theory to understand how learning might look different for instrumental, socializing and self-authoring learners and when and how each type of learning might have a place in your professional learning project. You will also learn about human and social capital distinctions and how this might influence teams, departments and the school culture in which you work, and ultimately how these distinctions might influence the design of your professional learning initiative.

Objective:

To learn about adult development and differentiating adult learning in your school or district.

Core Tasks:

  • Watch brief video Jacy: Two ways of understanding adult learning needs and course overview (Introduction)
  • Read Ch. 2 of CCM about differentiating professional learning with attention to adult development theory (Lesson 1)
  • Read Ch. 4 of CCM focusing on Social/Human Capital distinctions (Lesson 2)
  • Complete Part 3 of the Literacy Leader Action Plan Template (Lesson 3)

Extensions:

What will your professional learning design look like? By the end of this module, you will be ready to complete a draft of your literacy leadership action plan. You will read a case study of a recent disciplinary literacy professional learning project, consider its relevance to your context, and decide which elements you might borrow or adapt for your own professional learning initiative. You will learn about and decide which professional learning structures and routines will help you reach your goals. You will also think about who will participate in this initiative, the timing of various action items and the scope and sequence of the learning over months or years.

Objective:

Complete a draft of your Literacy Leadership Action Plan that outlines the scope and sequence of your disciplinary literacy professional learning project, the collaborative, inquiry-based professional learning structures you will use, who will participate and who is responsible for what.

Core Tasks:

  • Watch brief video of Jacy: Bringing together coaching and professional learning structures into a final draft action plan (Introduction)
  • Read/Skim Ch. 5-7 of CCM about coaching and professional learning structures, use of discussion-based protocols, and working with individuals and groups of teachers (lesson 1).
  • Read/Skim CCM 12: Case 2: Learning, Leading Learning, and Enacting Disciplinary Literacy at Brookline High School (pp. 212-217) (lesson 2).
  • Complete part 4 of the Literacy Leader CCM Study Guide (the reflection questions at the end of lessons).
  • Complete Part 4 of the Literacy Leader Action Plan Template (lesson 3).

 

Extensions:

  • Explore the most commonly used discussion-based protocols on the Reading Ways website under SHOP: https://www.readingways.org/shop/?prodcut_discipline=74&product_types=81&prodcut_learning_focus=88&fliter_product=filter
  • If the above link does not work, go to SHOP: Under “discipline,” enter general, under “product,”enter printable, under “learning focus,” enter discussion.
  • Explore the wide array of discussion-based protocols hosted (for free) by the School Reform Initiative: http://www.schoolreforminitiative.org/protocols/
  • Read Ch. 14 of Adolescent Literacy in the Era of the Common Core – “Professional Learning as the Key to Linking Content and Literacy Instruction” by Jacy Ippolito
  • Form study group and read together the book Leading for Powerful Learning (2012) by Breidenstein, Fahey, Glickman, and Hensley – it contains lots of practical suggestions for how to build and sustain professional learning routines in your school and district
  • Explore other resources on the Reading Ways website under both “COACHES CORNER” and “SHOP.”
  • Skim additional materials, research, and suggestions from the School Reform Initiative: http://www.schoolreforminitiative.org/research/

Literacy leadership at the School and District Level.

We have developed a set of guidelines and resources for district leaders who have prioritized literacy through partnership with Reading Ways. We have tools to help select instructional leaders for the role of Reading Ways Site Leader, and for working with these leaders to develop a multi-year strategic plan. We have also developed our own Disciplinary Literacy Professional Learning & Coaching Standards which align with our course materials to ensure that leaders at all levels have the same expectations for learning and professional growth.

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Best team of educational leaders, coaches, and researchers bar none.

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Clear process for creating a needs assessment and strategic plan for your school or district.

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Hundreds of free print and digital resources. Online, in person and hybrid coaching solutions.

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