A Cornucopia of Reading and Writing Lessons

This behemoth of a site may seem overwhelming at first, but can provide useful resources for adult educators. The site provides both a very large bank of lesson plans searchable by grade and topic, and a set of Strategic Guides on different teaching approaches (Teaching with Technology, Developing Academic Vocabulary, Reading in the Content Areas, etc.) which are helpful as well.

Each lesson plan includes an overview, a detailed instructional plan, downloadable resources and handouts for teaching the lesson, and research articles that support the approach. Often lessons link to other internet resources. While many lesson plans would need adaptation for the adult ed classroom, there are some really wonderful and innovative approaches here. The teachers who have submitted these lessons have clearly worked extensively with real students and know that a creative approach to foster engagement is very important.

Below are some highlights from the lesson plans, subdivided into the categories of Reading Lessons and Vocabulary Lessons. Each of the lessons come with handouts, from which you’ll see excerpts below.

Reading Lessons

Action is Character: Exploring Character Traits with Adjectives

This lesson on the 6-8 grade band sounds extremely promising for helping students both work on vocabulary to describe characters and helping students analyze characters by considering actions, dialogues, and behavior. Students “become” a character in a book or story and list adjectives that would describe him/her. The same student then “becomes” a different character and lists traits of the first character from his own, (the second character’s) perspective.

Active Reading through Self-Assessment: The Student-Made Quiz

This lesson guides students to work in groups to write quiz questions for stories they have read, then “administer” the quizzes to other groups of students.

Using QARs to Develop Reading Comprehension and Reflective Reading Habits

This lesson plan provides a detailed step-by-step guide that helps you teach students to effectively use the QAR system to improve their own reading. The lesson makes use of a “stop point” technique, whereby the teacher inserts “stop points” into a document at which point students write a question.

Getting the GIST: a Summarizing Strategy for any Content Area

Many teachers swear by GIST, a step by step process for helping students write effective summaries. Since the ability to summarize effectively is key to reading informational text and to learning in text from general, this would seem to be a promising classroom protocol to try.

Developing Searching, Skimming and Scanning Skills with Internet Bingo

The internet has made information available than ever before—the question now becomes, how do we sort through it? And, importantly, how do we help students learn to sort through it? This lesson guides students through the process of scanning for information—a skill that will become more and more important as more information becomes available.

Vocabulary Lessons

You Can’t Spell the Word ‘Prefix’ Without a Prefix

This lesson outlines an activity that is very simple, but will introduce students to the concept of prefixes, suffixes and roots as well as give them practice with word analysis. After a mini-lesson on prefixes, students are given cards with prefixes and roots and must find the student holding the card that matches his/her own prefix or root, then write a sentence showing understanding of the new word.

Supporting Vocabulary Instruction with EASE

This lesson introduces a wonderfully simple guide to helping students learn and “own” new words. Adult students often feel self-conscious pronouncing new, longer, unfamiliar words. This process puts everyone in the same boat when it comes to learning new words.

Using Word Webs to Teach Synonyms for Commonly Used Words

The teacher who wrote this lesson plan begins it with an observation about much student writing: students tend to use all-purpose words like “good,” “bad” or “nice” in their writing, instead of specific words that convey more concrete meanings and images. The lesson is intended to help students develop an array of words that they can use to convey the exact meaning they are after. Adult students often lack a variety of word knowledge—they may know “walk,” but not “amble” or “saunter.” This lack of word knowledge shows up when students attempt to paraphrase text they have read, as well, so a lesson on synonyms and descriptive language can be helpful for giving students options for improving their writing.

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About Kate Brandt

Kate Brandt is a Professional Developer in the adult literacy field in New York City and she loves her job. She loves her job so much that she commutes 2 hours per day, from her suburban home in Shrub Oak, New York, to get to work. She loves working in adult literacy because she gets to work with people who are smart, kind, and dedicated.

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