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ReadWriteThink Connections: English Journal Vol. 105, No. 1 (September 2015)

ReadWriteThink, created by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Literacy Association (ILA), provides free instructional practices and digital resources that support effective reading and language arts instruction for all learners. Most articles in English Journal include connections to ReadWriteThink lesson plans and other resources.


Increasing Access to and Success in Advanced Placement English in Pittsburgh Public Schools
The article suggests using editorials as tools not only for reading but also for writing. The lesson plan “Modeling Academic Writing through Scholarly Article Presentations” invites students to prepare an already published scholarly article for presentation, with an emphasis on identification of the author’s thesis and argument structure.

How Sara Got Her Voice Back: The Importance of Tentativeness
Online literature circles provide students with opportunities to discuss a literary work in a forum in which each student has a voice and the chance to share ideas without being interrupted by others. In this multisession lesson from, students choose a novel from a list of selected titles that will spark discussion and elicit deep literature response. Students read and discuss their chosen text online with their peers and respond to both teacher- and student-created prompts. Student-constructed prompts invite group members to think deeper about the literature, engage in meaningful conversation, and share multiple perspectives and unique points of view. After completing an online discussion, students review a transcript of their discussions and reflect on the value of their experience.

Empowering Stereotyped Readers through Self-Directed Learning
The article shared how students were able to take the lead in their learning. The sense of curiosity behind research writing gets lost in some school-based assignments. This Strategy Guide from provides the foundation for cultivating interest and authority through I-Search writing, including publishing online.

Disrupting the "Norm" with Collaborative Strategic Reading
In “Scaffolding Comprehension Strategies Using Graphic Organizers” from, collaborative strategic reading (CSR) is initially presented to students through modeling and whole-class instruction. To facilitate comprehension during and after reading, students apply four reading strategies: preview, click and clunk, get the gist, and wrap-up. Graphic organizers are used for scaffolding of these strategies while students work together in cooperative groups.

Talented and Depicted
When we intentionally respond to the diverse needs of our students, we are differentiating the product, process, or content of learning according to the learning style, interest, or readiness of our students. A wealth of research suggests that by framing learning with student interests in mind, teachers can increase student motivation and learning. Additionally, by understanding the varying literacy strengths and habits of our students we can identify what Vygotsky calls their “zone of proximal development” where literacy opportunities are not too hard as to frustrate or too easy to bore but just challenging enough to promote student learning. Check out the strategy guide “Assessing Student Interests and Strengths.”

Manga and the Autistic Mind
Readers of picture books and graphic novels know that visual images sometimes tell a story in a way that words cannot. Although the majority of visual texts are published for children, a growing number of books written for teens incorporate visual material in ways that can challenge and stretch older readers. Tune in to the podcast episode “Visual Texts for Teens” to hear about newly published middle grade and young adult fiction, graphic novels, biographies, travel memoirs, and informational books, all of which use visual material in ways that enrich the text’s meaning.

Teaching, Giftedness, and Differentiation: A Reflection
This ReadWriteThink connection about Socratic seminars offers practical methods for applying the approach in your classroom to help students investigate multiple perspectives in a text. Socratic seminars are named for their embodiment of Socrates’ belief in the power of asking questions; they prize inquiry over information and discussion over debate. Read about this strategy more on

The Long Hallway
In this lesson from, students explore this issue by brainstorming the different languages they use in speaking and writing, and when and where these languages are appropriate. They write in their journals about a time when someone made an assumption about them based on their use of language and share their writing with the class. Students then read and discuss Amy Tan’s essay “Mother Tongue.” Finally, they write a literacy narrative describing two different languages they use and when and where they use these languages.

Looking Inward: Reflecting on My Cultural Competence as an Educator
Because of their diverse literacy needs, students need us to differentiate the product, process, and content of learning according to their learning style, interest, and readiness. When possible and armed with information about the learning style habits of our students, we can use multiple modes of learning to engage students in meaningful literacy activities. No lesson requires the use of every mode but instead should be an intentional response to the learning style needs of our students. The more ways we teach, the more likely we reach our students and hone their ability to learn. Learn more in the strategy guide “Teaching with Multiple Modalities.”

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