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Content-Area Literacy


Specialized Thinking

Readers listen to multiple voices

Introduce the Reading Voice and Thinking Voice

Utilize Think Alouds while reading your course texts

Read for more than a surface gist

Dissect the Content Literacy Standards

Download the Reading Standards in the ladder format that depicts how the standards fit into the close-reading framework.

Before Reading

Broaden the definition of “text”

Access videos and visuals for each content area





Introduce texts minimally

“Sharply curtail” traditional pre-reading strategies

During Reading

Notice and note author ideas

Readers put their thinking adjacent to the author’s ideas

Discern important from unimportant information

The after-reading prompt drives the purpose.

Juggle multiple sources

Gain information from many different sources

 The Blind Men & the Elephant

Annotate across sources

Code across texts to identify new, additional, & contradictory details

Scaffold annotation skills all year

After Reading

Talk in and talk out new learning

Allow students to pool their thinking with peers

Speak the subject with Talk Moves

Refine own understanding with the melding of others’ ideas. For more specifics on introducing and implementing Talk Moves within math class, check out Rachel Lynette’s blog.

Stephanie Kimmerly provides her Roosevelt Elementary School (Elkhart, IN) students with Talk-Move bookmarks. This allows them to learn the various sentence starters for each one.

Bridget Longmeier introduces Talk Moves to third graders. “This is going to be game changing for our school with a 60% EL population! We need to get them talking and listening, and this is a great strategy to get them started.”

Fourth grade teacher Dan Myers adds to his Talk Moves display as he introduces a couple of talk moves to his HSA Belmont (Chicago, IL) students.

Enhance learning with flexible environments

Use furniture as objects in the service of learning.

FISHBOWL: Small group (i.e., fish) is encircled by remaining students (i.e., bowl).

Use the Fishbowl Procedure resources to define expectations to students. PPT PDF

HORSESHOE: Whole-class conversations are best when students can see each other.

PAIRS/SQUARES: Students think individually and share with a partner. Then two pairs discuss as a small group.

REPRESENT: After discussion time, a representative per group goes to the front of the class to share out.

Review with ABC-Chart Carousel

High school students review math concepts before a unit test.

Review math concepts on an ABC Chart before a unit test.

Pool thinking with Think, Ink, Pair, Square

Summarize to demonstrate understanding

Define the goal of a summary

Identify important information with Detail Lists

5-Point Detail List Template Example

10-Point Detail List Template Example

Oh, Yikes! History’s Grossest, Wackiest Moments

Lewis and Clark
Page 1 | Page 2

20-Point Detail List Template Example

Using text features, generate a Title-Wave Summary

Utilize the subheadings of a longer text to generate a summary after reading.

Complete an Information Pyramid

Students customize their understandings by completing an Information Pyramid with no one right answer.

Support comprehensive summaries with frames

Students can hone their summarizing skills by completing the Somebody… Wanted… But… So… Then… frame. 


Students’ oral and written summaries need to match the same text structure of the passage.

Shrink the summary

Once students can generate a summary, then whittle down to the main idea from there. Provide smaller and smaller paper (or decrease their word limit). Challenge them to emphasize the most important and utilize precise word choice to create a single-sentence main-idea statement on a sticky note.

Move beyond summarizing to synthesizing

Combine details to synthesize new ideas

Synthesize from Multiple Sources mini-lesson. PDF Smartboard

Small-Group Activity on Christopher Columbus

Collect details to infer reasons

Observe a 30-minute lesson and activity executed in a Concord Junior High science class.

Blend evidence and elaboration