“The program was very informative. Everything was simplified into basic steps that can be used by any educator in any field.”― Middle School Teacher
Keys to Literacy Programs
Keys to Literacy’s professional development programs train teachers to provide literacy instruction embedded in classroom instruction using existing reading and curriculum materials. The Key Comprehension Routine (for both upper and primary grades), The Key Vocabulary Routine, The Key Writing Routine, and The ANSWER Key Routine for Extended Response offer straightforward and effective instructional practices so teachers can translate Common Core literacy standards into classroom practice.
Keys to Literacy’s literacy planning services help schools and districts develop literacy plans that support tiered instruction and implementation of Common Core literacy standards.
This program embeds comprehension strategy instruction in all content areas with the use of existing reading and instruction material. The Key Comprehension Routine teaches students comprehension strategies for understanding and learning from an increasing “staircase” of text complexity.
The Common Core Literacy Standards place significant emphasis on having teachers of all subjects and grades teach literacy skills. The Key Comprehension Routine provides instruction that all teachers can immediately use to teach these skills and activities:
- Comprehension skills: for close, analytic reading of both narrative and expository text
- Main idea skills: categorizing information and vocabulary, and identify/stating main ideas during reading
- Text structure knowledge: at the sentence, paragraph, and longer text levels
- Top-down topic webs: a flexible, foundational graphic organizer that can be used with all subjects
- Two-column notes: a note taking format supports active reading and that can be used for reading or lecture
- Summarizing: students comprehend, analyze, and synthesize information to develop a summary of the most important ideas in their own words
- Generating questions: students create and answer questions along a continuum of thinking using Bloom’s Taxonomy
- Cooperative learning: students learn, practice, and become independent with the comprehension strategies by working in whole group, small collaborative groups, and individually
When the program is adopted by a school or district, students learn a routine for active reading and writing that is consistent as they move from grade to grade and subject to subject.
Target Audience: Grades 4-6 elementary teachers, 7-12 content classroom teachers, and educators who provide support to struggling readers.
Click here to purchase The Key Comprehension Routine: Grades 4-12 training book.
This version of The Key Comprehension Routine (Primary Grades K-3) is a version of the program that enables schools to introduce a comprehension routine to students prior to entering intermediate and middle grades. Younger students are introduced and build common language for comprehension skills and develop meta-cognition (awareness of thinking) through the routine.
Starting in the primary grades, the Common Core Literacy Standards place significant emphasis on teaching increasingly complex comprehension skills for narrative and informational text. The Key Comprehension Routine provides instruction that all teachers can immediately use to teach these skills:
- Oral language: how to use oral language and a rich language environment in the classroom to improve listening comprehension, a necessary precursor for reading comprehension
- Text structure — sentences: how to analyze text for read aloud and reading that contains complex sentences and how to build syntactic awareness
- Text structure — paragraphs: how to use knowledge of paragraph structure to support comprehension
- Text structure: building awareness of the difference between narrative and informational structures
- Categorizing and main idea skills: expanding basic categorizing into main idea skills and identifying main ideas during read aloud and reading
- Top-down topic webs: introduction to a flexible, foundational graphic organizer to organize verbal or written information
- Two-column notes: introduction to a format that teaches the difference between main ideas and details
- Retell and summary: using retell to organize and describe the events from a story, and using basic summary to analyze text to identify the most important ideas
- Question generation: students learn that thinking can occur at different levels from easy to difficult through an introduction to question generation using Bloom’s Taxonomy
The skills and strategies are introduced and practiced through read aloud as well as reading, and with visuals and manipulatives. While the program is introduced in primary grades, students learn a routine that is consistent as they move from grade to grade and can be built on as they enter upper grades.
Target Audience: All teachers grades K-3 and educators who provide support to struggling readers.
Click here to purchase The Key Comprehension Routine: Primary Grades K-3 training book.
Similar to The Key Comprehension Routine, this program embeds vocabulary instruction in all content areas, with a focus on teaching academic vocabulary that is found in existing subject-area reading and instruction material.
The Common Core Literacy Standards require students to build the vocabulary they need to access grade level complex texts. The Key Vocabulary Routine provides vocabulary instruction that all teachers can use to teach these skills. The program combines direct and indirect instruction into a routine of five components:
- Previewing: identifying difficult vocabulary before reading and providing sufficient background knowledge so students will not stumble over the words while reading
- Activities for teaching related words: use of four activities that connect new vocabulary to background knowledge and known words (semantic mapping, semantic feature analysis, categorizing, scaling)
- Selection of content words to teach in-depth: identifying a smaller set of essential academic and content vocabulary to teach in-depth using instructional strategies such as the Fryer, Concept Definition Map, Two-Column templates.
- Using context and word parts: word learning strategies for figuring out the meaning of unfamiliar words
- Promoting word consciousness: creating a language-rich classroom with a wide variety of reading options
When the program is adopted by a school or district, students learn a routine for increasing vocabulary knowledge that is consistent as they move from grade to grade and subject to subject.
Target Audience: Grades 3-6 elementary teachers, 7-12 content classroom teachers, and educators who provide support to struggling readers.
Click here for The Key Vocabulary Routine: Grades 3-12 training book.
In this two-day professional development program, teachers learn how to combine a student writing routine with a teacher instruction routine to help students learn to write and write to learn in subject areas. The program is tightly aligned with Common Core Literacy Standards that require teachers to embed writing instruction across disciplines with an emphasis on writing from sources.
Participants learn how to explicitly teach writing strategies to support process writing and text structure at the sentence, paragraph, and overall text levels. They use their own content materials to develop writing tasks that range from quick writes to longer pieces. They also receive sample writing templates, organizers, and feedback/revision checklists. The training focuses on informational writing – participants complete activities during the training related to an informational writing assignment.
The Student Routine is aligned with the process writing model and includes these stages:
- THINK: Identify audience and purpose, brainstorm, gather information
- PLAN: Organize information before writing
- WRITE: Follow the plan, develop ideas into sentences and paragraphs
- REVISE: Review the content, edit for conventions, and revise the writing piece
The components of the Teaching Routine are aligned with research-based best instructional practice and include:
- Set Clear Goals and Expectations for Writing Assignments
- Show Models of Good Writing
- Provide Scaffolds (graphic organizers, writing templates)
- Provide Opportunities for Student Collaboration
- Provide User-Friendly Feedback
- Provide Opportunities for Revision
The training is organized as follows:
Day 1: Combines the pre-writing components of the Student Routine and Teaching Routine that address writing preparation and planning.
Day 2: Combines the components of the Student Routine and the Teaching Routine that address writing, review, and revision.
We highly recommend that participants also attend The Keys to Argument Writing training day following this two-day professional development.
Target Audience: This professional development program focuses on grades 4-12. The elementary target audience is all grades 4-6 teachers. The secondary target audience is science, social studies/history, and other content teachers who incorporate writing into classroom instruction, ELA/English teachers, and literacy/special education teachers. The program is not designed for mathematics teachers or secondary teachers of advanced writing courses.
This training day focuses on how to teach students in grades 4-12 to write opinion/argument pieces in all content areas. The Common Core Writing Standards place particular emphasis on students’ ability to write sound arguments using text evidence to support a position in a reasoned, logical way. Through grade 5, the Common Core describes this as opinion writing, and as argument writing for grades 6-12.
Participants learn to apply the Keys to Literacy Teaching Routine (Set Goals, Models, Scaffolds, Collaboration, Feedback, Revision) to teach students to write arguments applying the steps in the Student Routine (THINK, PLAN, WRITE, REVISE). Participants also learn about argument text structure, how to apply research-based best practices for planning argument assignments, and how to teach related writing strategies.
Target Audience: This professional development session focuses on grades 4-12. The elementary target audience is all grades 4-6 teachers. The secondary target audience is science, social studies/history, and other content teachers who incorporate argument writing into classroom instruction, ELA/English teachers, and literacy/special education teachers. The program is not designed for mathematics teachers or secondary teachers of advanced writing courses.
Extended response writing is a combined comprehension and writing task that requires students to answer a text-dependent question that must be answered by referring back to one or more text sources.
Extended response writing is sometimes called evidence-based writing, constructed response, open response, or response to a question prompt. Research shows that having students analyze, synthesize, and summarize information from text significantly improves their writing and comprehension skills. Connections are made in the training to Common Core literacy standards that are directly related to extended response writing.
This professional development day trains teachers how to use extended response writing as a classroom tool to help students learn and remember content. When students answer question prompts about content reading, they learn how to think on paper. Participants learn how to generate effective question prompts for classroom reading material that range from low-level (description, explanation, summarization) to high-level (analysis, synthesis, inference). The responses to these question prompts require informational or argument types of writing.
Participants learn how to teach students a routine for writing extended response that includes these stages:
A: Analyze the Question
N: Note plan
S: Skim, read and select
W: Write the Response
ER: End by Reviewing
In order to successfully complete an extended response, students must already have grade-appropriate reading skills (i.e., fluent decoding, vocabulary, comprehension) and writing skills (i.e., sentence and paragraph writing, writing conventions). The ANSWER Key Routine does not teach these basic skills, but participants do learn to recognize when students need explicit instruction in these skills before they can successfully apply the routine to write a response.
Participants also learn how to give user-friendly feedback to students about their responses so they can revise and improve their written responses over time.
Target Audience: This professional development day focuses on grades 4-12. The elementary target audience is all grades 4-6 teachers. The secondary target audience is science, social studies/history, and other content teachers who incorporate writing about reading into classroom instruction, ELA/English teachers, and literacy/special education teachers. The program is not designed for mathematics teachers.
Keys to Literacy consultants guide a school or district through a planning process, beginning with the creation of a literacy planning team that represents the major stakeholders in the school or district (i.e., administration, teachers, specialists, community members). Our model for developing long-term literacy plans supports tiered instruction and is organized into stages: initial training of the planning team, self-assessment, action planning, and development of a final plan (which provides direction about how to sustain the plan over time). The self-assessment and action planning stages address eight components:
- Assessment planning to guide instruction
- Instruction for all students
- Intervention for struggling students
- Flexible grouping and scheduling
- Professional development
- Resources (technology, personnel, funding, time)
- Parents and community
The Keys to Literacy Planning approach is collaborative and designed to foster teamwork, set specific objectives, and develop actionable plans.