Literacy 7-12

Systems Change
Literacy 7-12 > Strategies

Literacy 7-12

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

Sense of Belonging
Social Awareness & Relationship Skills
Stereotype Threat


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


Argumentative Reasoning
Background Knowledge
Critical Literacy
Disciplinary Literacy
Reading Fluency


Accessible Vocabulary & Syntax

Using language that is accessible and appropriately leveled for each student allows all students to feel successful and participate in learning.

Acting/Role Play

Physically acting out a text or enacting major themes from texts enhances reading comprehension, particularly as texts become more complex.

Advance Graphic Organizer

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


When annotating, students engage deeply with a text and make their thinking visible while reading.


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

Authentic Audiences & Purposes

When adolescents can connect and communicate with authentic audiences about their interests and values, reading and writing become more personally meaningful and relevant.

Book Clubs

Students practice making and finding meaning in texts through book discussions moderated by teachers to varying degrees.

Brief Instruction Steps

Content that is provided in clear, short chunks can support students' Working Memory and ensure students are directing their Attention to the relevant information.

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 understand expectations as they navigate more complex tasks and assignments.

Collaborative Writing

When peers are able to work together to plan, draft, edit, and revise during the Composition process, their writing quality improves.

Composition Projects: Multimodal

For adolescent learners, the Composition process can become more robust, as learners begin to express ideas through multiple media, which includes visual, audio, and digital production.

Creating Visuals

When students express information visually, they are activating more cognitive processes while problem solving and increasing their experience with alternate texts.

Daily Review

Daily review strengthens previous learning and can lead to fluent recall of information and application of skills.


When preparing for and debating with peers, students analyze, form, and express verbal arguments, fostering their critical thinking and literacy skills.


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, as they provide easy access to definitions and similar words to help students remember words and meanings more readily.

Dim or Natural Lighting

Exposure to natural light is beneficial to the students' health and can increase their alertness and Attention.

Direct Instruction: Comprehension Strategies

As part of a varied curriculum, explicit instruction in reading comprehension strategies from teachers can help older students use strategies meaningfully and flexibly.

Direct Instruction: Internet Search

Teaching students how to effectively search the internet is critical for helping them learn how to find accurate and relevant information and aids in developing information literacy.

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.

Discipline-specific Writing

Interpreting and composing discipline-specific texts requires tailoring literacy strategies, like annotating or asking questions, to the disciplinary goals and practices.

Encourage Student Self-advocacy

Overtly encouraging all students to seek support, ask questions, and advocate for what they believe in creates a safe space for risk-taking and skill development.

Evaluating Sources

Teaching students how to systematically evaluate sources prepares them to navigate in an increasingly complex, digital world.

Explaining Their Thinking

During reading, giving students the opportunity to explain their thinking process aloud allows them to recognize the strategies they use, solidify their comprehension, and move knowledge into their Long-term Memory.

Extended Writing Opportunities

Increasing how much and how frequently students write improves both their writing quality and content knowledge.

Family Engagement

Students whose families are involved and feel valued within the school community are less likely to miss school, which research has shown can cause students to fall behind academically.

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

When students are aware that learning involves effort, mistakes, reflection, and refinement of strategies, they are more resilient when they struggle.

Gallery Walk

As students move through multimodal stations pertaining to a particular unit, the social and physical nature of the activity supports deeper understanding.


Games help students practice their literacy skills in a fun, applied context.


Adding gestures and motions to complement learning activates more cognitive processes for recall and understanding, particularly within content area instruction.

Goal Setting & Monitoring

Setting overall goals with actionable steps for achievement can help students feel more 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

During guided inquiry, teachers foster student autonomy by designing lessons centered on meaningful questions in which students locate, analyze, and present relevant information on their own or in small groups.

Guided Practice

Opportunities for students to practice skills in context, with teacher support and also independently, helps to move concepts and ideas into Long-term Memory.

Incorporate Students' Cultural Practices

Learning about students' cultures and connecting them to instructional practices helps all students feel like valued members of the community, increasing Sense of Belonging, which improves Motivation and can mitigate Stereotype Threat.

Independent Reading

Independent reading promotes literacy by emphasizing student choice with teacher support in selecting books, as well as setting the expectations that everyone is a reader.

Individual Deliberate Practice

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

Individual Spaces

Having private or semi-private spaces where students can go to support 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, supporting their identity development and Sense of Belonging.

Mentor Texts

By observing, rereading, and closely analyzing published writing, students see examples and learn the strategies of good writing that they can integrate into their own Composition.

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 content information, important Vocabulary, narrative structures, etc.

Mobility & Flexibility

Creating student-driven, flexible learning spaces involves setting up the classroom to support the desired learning outcomes for each activity.

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 and Background Knowledge that are necessary to remember procedural and content information.

Multiple Display Boards/Screens

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

Multiple Texts

Providing multiple texts on the same topic or theme allows students to interact with multiple perspectives and develop their critical thinking skills.

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.

Peer Feedback

When students provide constructive feedback on each other's work, they learn to give relevant suggestions, receive specific ways to improve their writing, and engage in Metacognition.

Peer Teaching

Having students teach their knowledge, skills, and understanding to their classmates strengthens learning and increases Motivation.

Pictures & Visuals

Using visual aids, such as pictures, diagrams, and charts, allows for additional processing time and supports learners by breaking down content and skills into more manageable parts.

Positive Self-talk

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

Pre-reading Questioning

When teachers ask questions or have students create questions before introducing a text, they activate student interest and help them assess what they already know about a given topic.

Predictability: Environment & Structure

Maintaining consistent routines, structures, and supports ensures that students are able to trust and predict what will happen next.

Producing Counter-texts

When students write from a non-dominant or marginalized perspective, they consider and give voice to points of view that are often missing.

Prompts & Questions

Providing guiding prompts and questions for students to use when reading or participating in discussions deepens their understanding of texts and gives them space to question and grapple with issues of power, justice, and equity.

Provide Writing Models

When teachers provide students with model texts for their writing, they learn to identify effective elements to incorporate into their own writing.

Quiet Environment/Pockets of Quiet

Decreasing extra audio input provides a focused learning environment.


Reading aloud to adolescents models Reading Fluency as texts become more complex and disciplinary in nature and therefore, more difficult to understand.

Read-alouds: Discussing Emotions

Using texts to discuss complex emotions and perspectives with students can help them see how they influence behavior and draw their own personal connections.

Reading Conferences

Teachers can provide individualized support through one-on-one conferences to assess reading comprehension, understanding of content, and spark further interest in reading.

Reciprocal Teaching: PALS

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

Reflect on Learning

Student reflection on learning, particularly when done collaboratively, is critical for moving knowledge of content and strategies into Long-term Memory.


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

Response Devices

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

Rich Library: Audio & Braille

Providing texts in braille, large font, and with text-to-speech allows learners with visual needs to access content.

Rich Library: Complexity

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

Rich Library: Diversity

Having culturally relevant reading materials, including multicultural and diverse texts, are critical for supporting all students.

Rich Library: Multimodal

Providing access to a variety of multimodal texts that align with the interests of learners allows them to practice digital, information, and Critical Literacy.

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 and actively participate in the reading process.

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 and Concept Maps

Providing a story or concept map prior to lessons or having students create their own maps during or after reading helps learners identify and organize key elements of a text.

Student Choice

Giving students voice and choice in their learning is critical for making learning meaningful and relevant to them, an important aspect of promoting Sense of Belonging.


Providing ways for students to meet their individual temperature needs supports Attention and 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.


Think-pair-share encourages meaningful student discussion by allowing for extra processing time and multiple shares.

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, particularly for those students who struggle with Attention.


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

Visual Reading Aids

Visual supports, like text magnification, colored overlays, and text manipulation, 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.

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 while promoting Vocabulary development.

Word Walls

Displaying academic Vocabulary on a word wall can reinforce key terms and concepts that students are learning.

Writing Conferences

Writing conferences allow students to fully immerse, share, reflect, and receive feedback during the writing process, promoting Motivation for continuing the sometimes lengthy revision process that occurs in the upper grades.