Developing a Comprehensive Classroom/Team Literacy Program

What we Know

We know that all students do not learn to read and write in the same way. Some students need a lot of explicit instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics; others need little. There are students who love to read or write informational texts, but struggle with understanding or writing narratives. Some learners can attend and engage with some text formats (e.g., electronic texts, short pieces with graphics), but need to enhance their ability to sustain effort and attention to gain meaning from longer texts or different formats.

We know that varied kinds of experiences with literacy strengthen understandings about other literacy knowledge/skills. For example, writing whole texts can support students' understanding of the reading process, phonics and how words work to convey meaning. Reading and listening to books and stories can support students' understanding of writing purposes, author decisions, genres, styles and the writing process.

Of course these characteristics are not unique to students with disabilities. Readers and writers are all individuals in terms of our literacy learning strengths, needs and preferences. Effective classroom and team literacy programs offer all students multiple kinds of reading and writing instruction and experiences everyday. Activities within these classrooms are multi-level--flexible enough to honor the individual abilities and needs of all class members, while also supporting shared experiences with reading, writing and responding/sharing.