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Explicit Reading Strategies in Any Classroom

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

We're running into a problem, and we're running into it every day, in every school, in every community: We don't know how to explicitly teach and/or model reading for our students.

What's more: we don't know how to use the PLC process to help us solve this problem.

For years, teachers have been collecting useless data (on accident) because they think that's what they're supposed to do. The issue is, the data they often collect leads them nowhere. They're aren't sure how to re-teach something that isn't a skill, but rather, content. And, if they've assessed a skill that's connected to their standards, often, they aren't sure how to back up and re-teach through explicit modeling, practice, and discussion.

We know from the research of John Hattie's Visible Learning team that there are in fact certain strategies and influences that propel student achievement at faster rates than others. Collective Teacher Efficacy and Teacher Estimates of Achievement consistently top the list.

Still, when PLC teams get stuck on which strategies to use to respond to needs regarding literacy (and math and science and social studies) we need to respond with actual examples. Visible Learning for Literacy by authors Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey, is a resource that has guided my work with districts for the past three years, and as I reflect on my own literacy practices in the classroom, I now better understand how to guide a reader to a deeper processing of a text.

In response to multiple requests for guidance and support from district, elementary, and secondary teams alike, I've created this self-guided resource for teachers and teams. This slide deck takes the top 18 strategies that grow readers and provides examples of what the strategies look like and sound like in our classrooms. To download your own free copy, click here.

All readers need to first comprehend what they've read at a surface level before they can think critically about the content. And, we don't think critically about a text without applying at least 1 of the six deep strategies.

Rather than simply assigning readings to students, we need to first understand that processing and analyzing complex texts requires thoughtful lesson design and progression. By working with our PLCs, we can determine 1-2 literacy related goals across our disciplines, and then, continually reference and utilize these strategies in our lesson design. As a PLC, we can reflect on the effectiveness of Close Reading lessons or structures used in a Jigsaw reading. We can co-plan and brainstorm together, reflect on lesson design together, and even observe one another implementing these strategies.

While PLC is not meant to be a lesson planning time, it is meant to help us better design responses to what students need. For far too-long, we have had our own surface conversations around how we'll respond to data without enough research or concrete examples of what actually works.

My hope is that this resource will allow you and your team to gain valuable, tangible examples of what works regarding reading so that you can best support your students.



Fisher, Doug, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie. Visible Learning for Literacy. Corwin. 2016.

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