Literacy 4-6

Systems Change
Literacy 4-6 > Strategies

Literacy 4-6

Select one or more factors to see the strategies that support your chosen factor(s). For each strategy, we provide ideas for classroom and product application, videos, and further resources.


Student Background

Adverse Experiences
Literacy Environment
Physical Well-being
Primary Language
Social Supports
Socioeconomic Status

Social and Emotional Learning

Social Awareness & Relationship Skills
Stereotype Threat


Auditory Processing
Cognitive Flexibility
Long-term Memory
Sensory Integration
Short-term Memory
Speed of Processing
Visual Processing
Working Memory


Background Knowledge
Foundational Writing Skills
Genre Knowledge
Morphological Knowledge
Orthographic Processing
Phonological Processing
Verbal Reasoning


Accessible Syntax

Teachers can support language development by using and providing Syntax that is appropriately leveled (e.g., short, simple structure for young students).

Accessible Vocabulary

Teachers support language development by using and providing Vocabulary that is appropriately leveled (e.g., using word wall words).

Acting/Role Play

Physically acting out a text enhances reading comprehension.

Advance Graphic Organizer

Advance graphic organizers link prior knowledge to upcoming learning to help students anticipate and understand the structure of new information.


Audiobooks allow students to hear fluent reading and to experience books above their reading skills.

Authentic Audiences & Purposes

Writing can become personally meaningful when students have an actual audience and a real purpose for communicating with that audience.

Book Clubs

Students practice making and finding meaning in their reading through a book club model.

Brief Instruction Steps

Content that is provided in clear, short chunks can support students' Working Memory.

Building Trusting Relationships

Building positive and trusting relationships with learners allows them to feel safe; a sense of belonging; and that their academic, cognitive, and social and emotional needs are supported.

Checklists & Rubrics

Checklists and rubrics help students develop their abilities to self-assess and revise their writing.

Collaborative Writing

When peers are able to work together to plan, draft, edit, and revise their compositions, their writing quality improves.

Composition Projects: Multimodal

Expressing ideas through visuals and audio, and understanding others' ideas in these forms, is as critical in today's world as traditional reading and writing.

Creating Visuals

Students activate more cognitive processes by exploring and representing their understandings in visual form.

Daily Review

Daily review strengthens previous learning and can lead to fluent recall.


Dictation can allow students with transcription difficulties to still participate in the writing process and generate ideas.

Dictionary & Thesaurus

Dictionaries and thesauruses can serve as resources for students to expand their Vocabulary knowledge.

Dim or Natural Lighting

Dim or natural lighting provides a calming environment.

Direct Instruction: Comprehension Strategies

When teachers provide explicit instruction in comprehension strategies and model when to use them, students learn how to flexibly apply them to make meaning of texts.

Direct Instruction: Genre-specific Writing Strategies

Explicitly teaching strategies for different genres, like narrative or persuasive writing, helps students write for different purposes and audiences.

Direct Instruction: Keyword Search

Teaching students how to create and use strong keywords for Internet searching is critical for helping them know how to find accurate, relevant information.

Direct Instruction: Spelling

Formal spelling instruction improves not only students' spelling skills but also their reading skills.

Direct Instruction: Vocabulary

Seeing and using new words repeatedly and in many contexts is critical for Vocabulary acquisition.

Direct Instruction: Web-based Reading Strategies

Research shows that, along with traditional reading comprehension strategies, students use unique strategies to read the non-linear, hyperlinked structure of online texts.

Direct Instruction: Writing Strategies

Explicitly teaching strategies for planning, writing, and revising texts improves students' writing quality.

Discussing Emotions

Teaching students how to label, identify, and manage emotions helps them learn Inhibition & Self-Regulation skills.

Encourage Student Self-advocacy

Overtly encouraging all students to seek support and ask questions creates a safe space for risk-taking and skill development.

Explaining Their Thinking

When students explain their thinking process aloud, they recognize the strategies they use and solidify their understanding.

Extended Writing Opportunities

Increasing how much students write improves both their writing and their reading.

Family Engagement

Students are more likely to come to school when families feel like a valued part of the community.

Feedback on Writing

Providing constructive feedback supports students' writing development by letting them know how to improve their writing.

Field Trips

Visiting places connected to classroom learning provides opportunities to deepen understanding through firsthand experiences.

Foster Growth Mindset

Teachers can help students understand that learning involves effort, mistakes, and reflection by teaching them about their malleable brain and modeling their own learning process.

Gallery Walk

As students walk through stations working in small groups, the social and physical nature of the learning supports deeper understanding.


Games help students visualize how to connect one fact to another.


Adding gestures and motions to complement learning activates more cognitive processes for recall and understanding.

Goal Setting & Monitoring

Setting overall goals, as well as smaller goals as steps to reaching them, encourages consistent, achievable progress and helps students feel confident in their skills and abilities.

Graphic Organizer

Visualizing how ideas fit together helps students construct meaning and strengthens their recall.

Growth Mindset Feedback

Providing feedback that focuses on the process of developing skills conveys the importance of effort and motivates students to persist when learning.

Guided Inquiry

In guided inquiry, teachers help students use their own language for constructing knowledge by active listening and questioning.

Guided Practice

Spending time with new content helps move concepts and ideas into Long-term Memory.

High Frequency Word List

Easy access to high frequency words promotes sight word recognition as students see the words repeatedly.

Incorporate Students' Cultural Practices

Learning about students' cultures and connecting them to instructional practices helps all students feel like valued members of the community, which improves Motivation.

Independent Reading

Independent reading promotes literacy by emphasizing student choice with teacher support in selecting books, as well as by making time for free reading.

Individual Deliberate Practice

Practicing until achieving several error-free attempts is critical for retention.

Individual Spaces

Having spaces where students can go supports self-regulation and individual deliberate practice.


As students work with and process information by discussing, organizing, and sharing it together, they deepen their understanding.


Journaling allows students to reflect on their thinking and feelings, process their learning, and connect new information to what they know.

Language Songs

Rhyming, alliteration, and other sound devices reinforce language development by activating the mental processes that promote memory.

Manipulatives: Sentence Combining

Full sentence manipulatives allow students to practice producing more complex Syntax and writing.

Manipulatives: Sentence Construction

Providing physical representations of parts of a sentence activates learners' mental processes.

Mindfulness Activities

Through short but regular mindfulness activities, students develop their awareness and ability to focus.

Mindfulness Breaks

Short breaks that include mindfulness quiet the brain to allow for improved thinking and emotional regulation.

Mnemonic Device

Creating patterns for remembering classroom processes, narrative structures, etc.

Mobility & Flexibility

Multiple tables and chairs on wheels allow for setting up the classroom to support the desired learning outcomes of each classroom activity.

Model Positive Connections to Literacy

By sharing their own reading and writing, teachers can create a literacy community that supports students in finding meaning in their own work.

Model the Assignment or Skill

By talking through their thinking at each step of a process, teachers can model what learning looks like.

Movement Breaks

Brain breaks that include movement allow learners to refresh their thinking and focus on learning new information.

Multimodal Instruction

Instruction in multiple formats allows students to activate different cognitive skills to understand and remember the steps they are to take in their literacy work.

Multiple Display Boards/Screens

Multiple display spaces promote collaboration by allowing groups to share information easily as they work.

Multiple Writing Surfaces

Multiple writing surfaces promote collaboration by allowing groups to share information easily as they work.

Music & Dance

Connecting information to music and dance moves enhances Short-term and Long-term Memory by drawing on auditory processes and the cognitive benefits of physical activity.

Physical Activity & Recess

Research shows physical activity improves focus and creativity.

Pictures & Visuals

Visuals help students recognize relationships within words and sentences to develop literacy skills.

Playful Literacy Activities

Playful activities can support the development of learners' Metacognition and also inspire their narratives and writing.

Positive Self-talk

When students reframe negative thoughts and tell themselves kind self-statements, they practice positive self-talk.

Pre-reading Questioning

Helping students think about what they know about the topic of upcoming work helps activate their Background Knowledge or reveals gaps.

Predictability: Environment & Structure

Maintaining consistent classroom routines and schedules ensures that students are able to trust and predict what will happen next.

Prompt Cards

Cards with strategies for managing emotions help students remember how to act when faced with strong feelings.

Provide Writing Models

When students read models of the type of writing they are doing, they can identify effective elements to incorporate in their writing.

Quiet Environment/Pockets of Quiet

Decreasing extra audio input provides a focused learning environment.


Reading aloud regularly exposes students to new and familiar Vocabulary and texts.

Read-alouds: Deliberate Topics

Reading aloud books about skills children are learning provides another model for their development.

Reading Conferences

Through one-on-one conferences, teachers can provide individual support to each student to deepen comprehension and interest in reading.

Reciprocal Teaching: PALS

When students explain to others, they deepen their understanding and gain confidence in their learning.

Reflect on Learning

Providing space and time for students to reflect is critical for moving what they have learned into Long-term Memory.


Students build their confidence, strategy use, and comprehension by reading and rereading books.

Response Devices

Response devices boost engagement by encouraging all students to answer every question.

Rich Library: Audio & Braille

Books for vision differences support reading development for learners with visual needs.

Rich Library: Complexity

Reading materials of varying complexity and levels are necessary for all students to experience success.

Rich Library: Diversity

Multicultural and diverse books are critical for supporting all students.

Rich Library: Multimodal

Providing varied types of resources that align with interests of individual students supports overall literacy development.

Rich Library: Poetry

With figurative language and creative sentence structure, poetry supports the development of a deeper understanding of the different ways language makes meaning.

Rich Library: SEL Topics

Books on social and emotional learning (SEL) topics, such as developing empathy and productive persistence, help teach these skills.


When students engage in a dialogue with themselves, they are able to orient, organize, and focus their thinking.


When students monitor their comprehension, performance, and use of strategies when reading and writing, they build their Metacognition.

Sensory Stimulation

Incorporating multiple senses with strategies like chewing gum, using a vibrating pen, and sitting on a ball chair supports focus and Attention.

Sentence Frames

Sentence frames or stems provide language support for students' writing and participation in academic discussions.

Sound Level

Providing ways for students to adjust sound level supports individual auditory needs.

Sound-blocking Devices

Using earplugs or headphones can increase focus and comfort.

Story Map

Providing a story map ahead of time or having students create a map during or after reading helps learners understand and expand their Genre Knowledge.

Student Choice

Providing students a voice in their learning is critical for making learning meaningful.


Providing ways for students to meet their individual temperature needs supports Attention and Inhibition & Self-Regulation.

Text Chats

Bringing students' every day literacy practice of texting into the classroom provides regular, low-stakes practice communicating with authentic audiences.

Text-to-speech Software

Transforming written text into audio supports learning by activating different parts of a learner's brain for comprehension.


Students develop literacy skills by listening to and speaking with others in informal ways.


Timers help students learn how to self-pace and transition.

Tossing Activity

Tossing a ball, beanbag, or other small object activates physical focus in support of mental focus.

Uncluttered Environment

Spaces that are structured, organized, and clean provide increased room for collaboration and active learning.

Verbal Repetition

Having students verbally repeat information such as instructions ensures they have heard the information and supports remembering.


Providing visuals to introduce, support, or review instruction activates more cognitive processes to support learning.

Videos: SEL Topics

Videos developed with discussion guides can teach students about social and emotional learning (SEL) skills.

Visual Reading Aids

Visual supports, like text magnification, colored overlays, and guided reading strips, help students focus and properly track as they read.

Wait Time

Wait time, or think time, of three or more seconds after posing a question increases how many students volunteer and the length and accuracy of their responses.

Web-based Dictionary & Thesaurus

Web-based dictionaries and thesauruses can serve as visual and audio resources for students to expand their Vocabulary knowledge.

Word Processing

Research has shown that students write longer pieces with stronger quality when they use word processing software.

Word Sorts

Word sorts are multisensory activities that help learners identify patterns and group words based on different categories.

Word Walls

A word wall helps build Vocabulary for reading fluidity.

Writing Conferences

Writing conferences allow students to share, reflect on, and receive feedback about their writing, which promotes Motivation for revising.