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Practice Guides for Literacy Leaders

The What Works Clearinghouse practice guides provide succinct recommendations that address challenges educators encounter in their classrooms and schools, as well as ancillary resources like process videos and webinars. These practice guides are based on reviews of research, the experiences of practitioners, and the expert opinions of a panel of nationally recognized experts.

K-3rd Grade Reading

Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding

  • Teach students academic language skills.
  • Develop awareness of the segments of sounds in speech.
  • Teach students to decode words, analyze word parts, and write and recognize words.
  • Ensure that each student reads connected text every day.

Improving Reading Comprehension

  • Teach students how to read using comprehension strategies.
  • Teach students to identify and use the text's organizational structure to comprehend content.
  • Guide students through discussion on the meaning of the text. Select texts purposefully to support comprehension.
  • Establishing an engaging context in which to teach reading comprehension.

Elementary Writing

Teaching Elementary School Students to Be Effective Writers

  • Provide daily time for students to write.
  • Teach students to use the writing process for a variety of purposes.
  • Teach students to become fluent with handwriting, spelling, sentence construction, typing, and word processing.
  • Create an engaged community of writers.

Data-Informed Reading Instruction within Tiered Instructional Frameworks

Using Student Achievement Data to Support Instructional Decision Making

  • Make data part of instructional improvement.
  • Teach students to examine their own data and set learning goals.
  • Establish a clear vision for schoolwide data use.
  • Provide supports that foster a data-driven culture.
  • Develop and maintain a districtwide data system.

Assisting Students Struggling with Reading: Response to Intervention (RTI) & Multi-Tier Intervention

  • Screen all students for potential reading problems.
  • Provide time for differentiated reading instruction.
  • Provide intensive, systematic instruction on up to 3 foundational reading skills.
  • Monitor the progress of tier 2 students at least 1x a month.
  • Provide intensive instruction on a daily basis.

Considerations for English Learners

Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners

  • Teach a set of academic vocabulary words intensively.
  • Integrate oral and written English language instruction into content-area teaching.
  • Provide regular opportunities to develop written language skills.
  • Provide small-group instructional intervention to struggling students.

Effective Literacy and English Language Instruction

  • Screen for reading problems and monitor progress.
  • Provide intensive small-group reading interventions.
  • Provide extensive and varied vocabulary instruction.
  • Develop academic English.
  • Schedule regular peer-assisted learning opportunities.