Sunday / May 19

#CorwinTalks: Tips and Strategies for Building Literacy Skills in All Content Areas

3 Tips for Teaching Reading Across the Day

By Jen Seravallo

Because reading is so critically important, the job of teaching students how to read well belongs to all teachers. – Jennifer Serravallo, Teaching Reading Across the Day

View every lesson as an opportunity to build vocabulary and knowledge.

Students primarily learn vocabulary through context, so whether you are planning an ELA, science, social studies, or even a math lesson, identify what words you can highlight, teach, and help students engage with. Research also shows benefits to explicitly teaching students about words and how they work—to expand their vocabulary, improve knowledge, and vice versa.[1]  Using vocabulary lessons, you can help students connect words they initially learn through context to other words that are conceptually and/or morphologically related.

Bring lesson structures for deeper reading to Science and Social Studies.

Rather than just assigning a text excerpt or chapter, consider a focus lesson or a close reading lesson. Focus lessons allow you to teach a single strategy aligned to grade level standards, based on student needs, tied to skills needed for a text you are studying together, or even all three. Close reading lessons help you support students as they delve deeper into complex texts by teaching them strategies, such as annotating, building on each other’s ideas, analyzing language choice, etc.

Use conversation to support comprehension in all classrooms, across the day.

Research shows that conversation can be a powerful tool for learning.[2] But for deep learning to occur, you need to explicitly teach students to have better conversations. Plan for opportunities to engage students in conversation through whole class questioning (generated by both you and students), quick turn and talks as well as extended partnership discussion, and small group circles or clubs.

Developing Reading Comprehension for Experienced Multilinguals

By Beth Skelton and Tan Huynh

I (Beth) was asked by a team of middle school teachers to model a literacy lesson in one of their 7th-grade classes. The goal was to help the class, comprised of 26 multilingual learners, develop skills to comprehend grade-level text. Nearly every student in the class had been labeled as “EL” for five or more years; they were all experienced multilinguals. 

The teachers had already tried several strategies designed to support these students including reading the texts aloud and simplifying them. While all of the students could decode most of the words in the assigned text, they struggled to understand the complex sentences. Therefore, I decided to try a collaborative reading protocol (Huynh & Skelton, 2023) during the model lesson. Before class, I prepared the text by chunking longer paragraphs and adding a few labeled visuals. The teachers purposefully partnered the students with a peer who spoke their same heritage language and had a similar literacy level. 

During the lesson, I asked the students to follow the collaborative reading protocol shown in the figure below. The partners worked together to make meaning of the text and annotate it. While students were reading with their classmates, the teachers observed different partnerships and noted how they were making meaning from the text.

After participating in this collaborative reading activity, the students in the class commented that they could understand the text better when they read the article in chunks and discussed it with a partner. After the class, the teachers shared their observational notes. They were amazed at how well the students could read and comprehend the chunks of text. 

This collaborative reading protocol process helps develop comprehension in several ways. Chunking the text encourages students to process a small set of details at a time rather than just summarizing at the end. Collaborating with a partner allows them to clarify unknown words or concepts, ask each other questions, and make meaning together. In turn, this develops students’ self-efficacy and their ability to comprehend texts when reading independently. 

When done successfully, this collaborative reading protocol integrates all language domains (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) in the service of comprehending text. Scaffolding reading for experienced multilinguals in this way creates the conditions for their success.

Unlocking the Magic of Independent Reading

By Jarred Amato

If we agree that:

  1. Reading, like exercise, helps us live healthier, happier lives.
  2. As educators, we want all students to live healthy, happy lives.
  3. Every student enters our school at a different point in their literacy journey (confidence, experience, interests, ability, etc.).
  4. Too many students, before and after the pandemic, do not read willingly, consistently, joyfully, or proficiently.
  5. Today’s students (and adults) are increasingly distracted, constantly scrolling and skimming and struggling to focus for sustained stretches. Then, this is also true:
  6. Every school must make literacy a priority.

The question, of course, becomes how? How do we do it? I believe we start by establishing consistent reading routines and helping students develop a positive reading identity. This work, however, shouldn’t fall squarely on our ELA departments. Instead, it should be a collaborative effort, where the entire school community – students, faculty, and families – commits to read widely and read often.

In my book, Just Read It: Unlocking the Magic of Independent Reading in Middle and High School Classrooms, I introduce the Read and WRAP framework, which has been the backbone of my literacy classroom for the past decade. It also can enhance the reading and writing that students can and should be doing in science and history classrooms and across all content areas.

READ: First, we need to dedicate real time for students to read independently (preferably not from a screen) in a calm, comfortable environment. Whether it’s a shared text – perhaps an excerpt from an biography or a scientific article – or a book of their choosing, students deserve ongoing opportunities to engage in deep reading. 

WRAP:  Students also deserve opportunities to WRAP about their reading. Write, Reflect, Analyze, and Participate. This is where our classroom comes alive as we engage in authentic writing, reflection, conversation, and community-building. This is where we deepen our understanding of the text, world, and self. This is where students receive more “reps” and practice with key literacy skills. This is where we’re able to think more clearly, critically, and creatively. 

To be clear, Read and WRAP can and should look slightly different depending on the subject, grade level, and lesson/unit objectives. However, I believe that every school should carve out daily (or, at the very least, weekly) time for this routine. If not in our classrooms, then when?


Cervetti, G. N., Wright, T. S., & Hwang, H. (2016). Conceptual coherence, comprehension, and vocabulary acquisition: A knowledge effect? Reading and Writing, 29(4), 761–779.

Wright, T. S., Cervetti, G. N., Wise, C., & McClung,_N. A. (2022). The impact of knowledge-building through conceptually coherent read alouds_on vocabulary and comprehension. Reading Psychology, 4(1), 70–84.

Wright, T. S., & Gotwals, A. W. (2017). Supporting kindergartners’ science talk in the context of an integrated science and disciplinary literacy curriculum. The Elementary School Journal, 117(3), 513–537.

Cromley, J. G., & Azevedo, R. (2007). Testing and refining the direct and inferential mediation model of reading comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(2), 311.

Baumann, J. F., Edwards, E. C., Font, G., Tereshinski, C. A., Kame’enui, E. J., & Olejnki, S. (2002). Teaching morphemic and contextual analysis to fifth-grade students. Reading Research Quarterly, 37(2), 150–176.

 Sedova, K., Sedlacek, M., Svaricek, R., Majcik, M., Navratilova, J., Drexlerova, A., Kychler, J.,_& Salamounova, Z. (2019). Do those who talk more learn more? The relationship between student classroom talk and student achievement. Learning and Instruction, 63

Written by

Jennifer Serravallo is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning educator, literacy consultant, frequent invited speaker at state and national conferences, and former member of the Parents Magazine editorial board. Jen is best known for creating books and resources rooted in research that help make responsive, strategic, differentiated literacy instruction possible for all educators.

Beth Skelton is a coach, consultant, and author with over 30 years of experience as a language educator. She has worked with multilingual learners ranging from early years to adults in rural, urban, suburban, and international school settings. Beth is dedicated to equitable education for multilingual learners.

Tan Huynh is a secondary school teacher specializing in English language acquisition, an author, podcaster, and consultant. His suggestions are rooted in his experience teaching students from 5th to 10th grade in public, private, charter, and international schools.  He also taught secondary social studies and spends much of his days co-planning and co-teaching. 

Dr. Jarred Amato is an award-winning English teacher and the co-founder of Project LIT Community, a national grassroots literacy movement. Jarred is a two-time MNPS Blue Ribbon teacher and the recipient of the Penguin Random House Teacher Award for Literacy and the Inspiring Educator Award from the Nashville Public Education Foundation. After 13 years of teaching middle and high school English in Nashville, Jarred recently relocated to New Jersey. 

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