Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 275 DL, Chapter 12: Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum

Reading to Learn

Trade Books: High-quality picture and chapter books used in teaching thematic units. These books can be found in science, social studies, or other topics. They help students learn about these topics because they can make connections to their own lives or background knowledge they already have.

Text Sets: A collection of books or other reading materials on topics in a thematic unit. This could include items such as:

  • Maps
  • Brochures
  • Digital Articles
  • Films and Videos
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Nonfiction Books
  • Photographs
  • Poems or Songs
  • Reference Books
  • Stories
  • Websites

Mentor Text: The use of stories, nonfiction books, and poems that students are familiar with to model what the writer did. Teachers reread these texts and point out certain things they want the students to listen for such as the use of strong verbs, writing from different perspectives, or the tone of putting adjectives after nouns.

Writing to Learn

Learning logs are a great way for students to record and react to what they have learned in social studies, science, or other areas.

Double-entry journals are used for multiple types of information. The journal pages are divided into two parts, for example, the students could write facts on one side and their opinions or reactions on the other side.

Quickwriting is when students write on a topic for 5-10 minutes just letting thoughts flow and not focusing so much on the grammar. This could be used at the beginning of a lesson where students write down the things they know about a topic.

Demonstrating Learning

Essays are used for students to explain, analyze, and persuade. These essays are usually no longer than 2 pages talking about a personal topic or a national/international issue. They are written in the voice of the student.

Students could also work together to make a collaborative book. Each student could write their own page or they could work in small groups to write chapters.


To make textbooks easier to understand, the reading process can be used:

Stage 1: Prereading – Teachers can prepare students to read the chapter by doing these things:

  • Activate and build students’ background knowledge about the topic
  • Introduce big ideas and technical words
  • Set purpose for reading
  • Preview the text

Teachers can use KWL charts to show what the students already know, what they want to learn, and what they did learn. Anticipation guides can also be used to introduce a set of statements on the topic of the chapter, students can agree or disagree with these statements, and check their answers as they read.  Teachers can also use a prereading plan where they present a big idea to the students and the students brainstorm words and ideas related to it. Students can also preview the chapter by looking at the headings and turning them into questions. The students then need to read to find the answer to these questions. This is known as the question-answer relationship.

Step 2: Reading – Teachers can support students as they read in these ways:

  • Ensure that students can read the assignment
  • Assist students in identifying the big idea
  • Help students organize ideas and details

Stage 3: Responding – Teachers help students with comprehension as they think, talk, and write about what they have read in these ways:

  • Clarify students’ misunderstandings
  • Help students summarize the big ideas
  • Make connections to students’ lives

This is also where you could use quick writes or double entry journals.

Stage 4: Exploring – Students are asked to look more into the text and focus on vocabulary, examine the text, and analyze the big ideas in these ways:

  • Have students study vocabulary words
  • Review the big ideas in the chapter
  • Help students to connect the big ideas and details

Students create semantic feature analysis charts or data charts to record information according to the big idea. They can also do word sorts to emphasize the relationships among the big ideas.

Stage 5: Applying – Students then create projects to apply what they have learned. Teachers support students by:

  • Expanding students’ knowledge about the topic
  • Having students personalize their learning
  • Expecting students to share their knowledge

Learning How to Study

As students study, they do these things:

  • Restate the big ideas in their own words
  • Make connections among the big ideas
  • Add details to each of the big ideas
  • Ask questions about the importance of the ideas
  • Monitor whether they understand the ideas

Students can take notes, use the question-answer relationship, or the SQ4R study strategy. This strategy is a six step technique usually not taught until 7th and 8th grade. SQ4R means survey, question, read, recite, relate, and review. This strategy has been researched to be successful unless students are in a hurry and skip a step.

How to Plan a Thematic Unit

  1. Determine the Focus
  2. Collect a Text Set
  3. Coordinate Textbook Readings
  4. Locate Digital and Multimedia Materials
  5. Plan Instructional Activities
  6. Identify Minilesson Topics
  7. Plan Ways to Differentiate Instruction
  8. Brainstorm Possible Projects
  9. Plan for Assessment

Alternative Assessment: Some students may have difficulty with regular assessments because they don’t understand, especially English Learners. Teachers need to find different ways of assessing these students, such as having them draw pictures about big ideas and adding words to the word wall so that they can label or write a little bit about what they drew instead of writing an essay. They can also talk with the teacher about what they learned.

All above information comes from:
Tompkins, G. E. (2017). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson

Classroom Application

I liked how the reading process was also used for a textbook. I would use a lot of the prereading strategies that I listed above. I also liked the alternative assessment because sometimes even students who aren’t English Learners struggle with understanding the assessment that is being used, I think this is a great way to see how every student is learning.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 275 DL, Chapter 11: Differentiation for Success


All students learn differently and are at different levels of their learning, because of this teachers need to differentiate, or teach things differently, their lessons to help all students learn to the best of their abilities. There are three ways that teachers can differentiate their instruction. The change the content that the students need to learn, the instructional process used to teach, and the products of what the students need to create to show what they learned.

  • Differentiating the Content: For literacy the content consists of the knowledge, strategies, and skills the students are suppose to know by the end of their grade level. Some students will need more instruction and practice than other students, while others may need less. For those that need less, they may receive more complex work. The teacher needs to assess their students before deciding how they will differentiate activities.
  • Differentiating the Process: The process is the instruction the teacher uses, the materials used, and the activities the students are involved in to be the most successful. This could be grouping the students by grade level and having appropriate activities for each.
  • Differentiating the Product: The product shows what the students have learned. This may be what the understand and how they will apply it. Students could create projects. Projects can be differentiated depending on the creating process involved or the requirements involved in creating it.

Grouping for Instruction

Teachers typically use three different types of groups: whole class, small group, or individually. To chose a grouping the teacher needs to think about their purpose, the complexity of the activity, and the students’ learning needs. These groups should change throughout the school year.

Guided Reading:

  • Usually done in small groups
  • Used to give students more teacher support when decoding and comprehending what they are reading, to learn reading strategies, or help students become independent readers

Tiered Activities

Tiered activities focus on the same knowledge but differ in complexity. These activities help all student be successful not matter if they are above, below, or at grade level. The activities should still be interesting and engaging to each student as well as requiring the same amount of effort from each students. Teachers vary the activities by varying the complexity of thinking, the level of reading materials, the form of expression or the way that the students would show what they learned, and what the students will do during each activity.

Literacy Centers are meaningful and purposeful literacy activities that are usually done in small groups.


Struggling Readers and Writers

Students with early literacy exposer are seen to have better reading and writing skills than those who have not. This could be done by parents simply reading to their child(ren).

Struggling Readers:

It is very important to identify struggling readers so that they can get the help they need as soon as possible. Some of the factors include:

  • Difficulty developing concepts about written language, phonemic awareness, letter names, and phoneme-grapheme correspondences
  • Slower to respond than classmates when asked to identify words
  • Behavior that deviates from school norms

How to Address Struggling Readers Problems


Struggling Writers:
Some students will have a hard time developing and organizing their ideas, some struggle with word choice and writing complete sentences and effective transitions, and others have problems with spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar skills. Others may struggle with the writing process and using writing strategies.

How to Address Struggling Writers Problems


High Quality Instruction:

To avoid having student struggle with reading and writing, they need to have high quality instruction and using intervention when needed. Teachers use these four components to enhance the literacy development:

  • Personalizing Instruction
  • Using Appropriate Instructional Materials
  • Expanding Teachers’ Expertise
  • Collaborating With Literacy Coaches


Intervention programs help students who are low achieving with reading and writing and help to accelerate their literacy learning.

  • Early Intervention: This is designed for preschoolers, kindergartener, and first graders.
  • Reading Recovery: This program is for first graders. It uses 30-minute daily one-on-one tutoring by trained teachers for 12 to 30 weeks. It includes:
    • Rereading familiar books
    • Independently reading the book introduced in the previous lesson
    • Learning decoding and comprehension strategies
    • Writing sentences
    • Reading a new book with teacher support
  • Response to Intervention (RTI): A schoolwide initiative to identify students who are struggling quickly, promote high-quality classroom instruction, provide effective interventions, and increase the students success.
    • Tier 1: Screening and Prevention
    • Tier 2: Early Intervention
    • Tier 3: Intensive Intervention
  • Interventions For Older Students: The intervention should include these components:
    • High-Quality Instruction
    • Instructional-Level Reading Material
    • More Time for Reading

All above information comes from:
Tompkins, G. E. (2017). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson

Classroom Application

This chapter helped with identifying students who are struggling with reading an writing. I liked all the different ways to differentiate activities especially the tiered activities which is something I will definitely use in my classroom someday.