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FLIGHT - Functional Literacy Instruction Generating Higher-Level Thinking

FLIGHT - Functional Literacy Instruction for Generating Higher-Level Thinking


Historically, research on content area or disciplinary literacy has focused on constructing strategies that scaffold students’ ability to comprehend and extract information from content area written texts. (Alvermann, Dillon & O’Brien 1987; Alvermann, Moore, & Conley, 1987; Anders & Guzzetti, 1996; Bean, 2000; Holliday, 1991; Padak & Davidson,1991).


The value of these strategies for helping students learn to access information from texts is well documented ( Alvermann & Moore 1991), but the strategies have typically been viewed as separate from the learning of the content.  These strategies are typically not embedded in the discipline’s education courses. 


It is difficult to distinguish between content learning and content literacy learning.  A critical aspect of learning in any discipline involves learning to communicate through oral and written language, among other forms of representation, in that discipline.  (Moje, Ciechanowski, Kramer, Ellis, Carrillo, and Collazo 2004)


The Content Literacy Model includes content knowledge, literacy skills, and discursive skills.

·        Content Knowledge:  concepts, word meanings in different contexts, information, procedures.

·        Literacy Skills:  encoding, decoding, comprehension, interpretation, persuasion.

·        Discursive Skills: ways of making, using and communicating knowledge, such as explaining, offering empirical evidence, offering personal experience, predicting, classifying.


Content Literacy involves more than decoding and encoding of printed words and more than comprehending technical terms (Hicks, 1995/1996; Lemke, 1990; Luke, 2001). 


Being literate requires both interpretive and rhetorical skills; that is, readers must be able to interpret a text’s meaning and importance beyond basic comprehension. 


Readers must engage in literacy and discursive skills requiring knowing certain information, understanding the major concepts of the area, and being able to define the conventional definitions of certain terms and phrases.  It requires some content knowledge. 


Most important is that being literate in a content area requires an understanding of how knowledges are constructed and organized in the content areas, an understanding of what counts or warrant or evidence of claim, and an understanding of conventions of communicating that knowledge. (Moje, Ciechanowski, Kramer, Ellis, Carrillo, and Collazo 2004)


                                                                                    Compiled by Dr. Elaine Weber

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In-FLIGHT Strategies

FLIGHT Passport Requirements



Technology Standards

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Rita -- do you think we should add something about digital native vs. digital immigrants? It would help bridge the foundation of knowledge w/ technology. if not, I'll cover it in the morning session. :) Not a bad idea at all. You are thinking about teachers vs students learning, of course? I will find some Mark Prensky stuff. Do you wanted it added to the Welcome or a separate widget?

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Welcome to Technology

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Welcome to Module 1

Welcome to Module 1: Technology


According to Will Richardson,  one of the technology gurus of the 21st Century, teachers should "start small and experiment." What great advice for someone who wants to create a classroom that capitalizes on all the technology teaching and learning tools that are available inside and outside of the classroom.


In this module, you will be introduced to a number of technology tools that will fascinate you, frustrate you, finally, become your favorites! Most are available for free and can be found on the Internet. There will be some opportunities for further studies and alternate explorations on your own. Where free Internet resources are available, they will be listed. Some activities are required, some will be suggestions. But all will be worth your time to explore.


Your classroom walls are down! Teaching, and learning, in this century requires some introspection and some daring! It's time to start with some small steps and try some of those experiments! Welcome to MiClass and HiClass Module 1: Technology!

Tools for Takeoff


Blogging Sites

Additional Internet Tools

Teacher Productivity

Personal Web Page

Productivity Tools

Classroom Resources


Module 1: Teacher Resources

Technology Tutorials

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Technology Terms Defined

For definitions of the following computer terms, please see this website: sponsored by cornell University.


Another site with technology term definitions is Between these two sites, you should be able to find easy to understand definitions for any terms used in the module. -


Example terms:

Audiocast or podcast







In Flight Strategies

Flight Passport Requirements

Todo lists

Passport Tasks for Module 1

Create an account with to keep track of your favorites/bookmarks
Create a web presence for your classroom
Establish a blog using one of the resources presented
Watch the Did You Know ? video found on the Resources List
Watch a Vision of Students Today (created by students)

Lift up Through Literacy

Different Flights for Different Passengers


Module 4: Resources

Passport Task Links

Module 4: Tutorials

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Welcome to Module 4

Todo lists

Passport Tasks

Teacher task: Animal School Story podcast
To-do item

Untitled tab 55

Welcome Aboard

FLIGHT PLAN for Reading Comprehension



Strategies for Comprehending Text


Theory and Background

Content Area Text - Relationships

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to make sense and interact with the text.  in doing so, there are seven stragegies that we teach/students use:


think alouds -- visit appropriate sites


One piece of text -- shared amongst group -- looking at different viewpoint different people different ways


new choice of piece of text 


teach through modeling, think alouds w/comprehension strategies, open samples for models online, get piece of text (need certain peices of text to open/print -- interact not online) and using the seven stragegies. (need physical bookmarks -- copy should be available online)  I read w/think aloud -- share with others


other ways marginalia, practice marginalia introduce marginalia samples visit sites

text in the middle -- model and practice

same piece of text


critical reading What does it say, how does it say it, what does it mean, what's the connection to me?

model with selection -- create blog -- content area utilize diigo and/or voice thread


textmapping/textscrolling -- understanding the structure to better understand the meaning



Welcome to Module 8

connect to lift off site for reading comprehension -- focus on fluency and comprehension and determing student's level


reader's theatre -- math curse w/quick write -- understanding the math in our world


math sucks wonder years --  math doesn't suck.


science and social studies links/connections

Reading Assessments

Access to free grade-level diagnostic reading assessments for Grades 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, and High School can be found at Learning Express Library.


MEL, Michigan eLibrary, available through, offers many free resources for educators to help in their instruction and assessment.  Once you access the site, locate the Featured Resources section located in the top right-hand corner. 


·        Choose the tab “Tests and Tutorials.”


·        Log in or register as a new user, if this is your first visit to the site.  


·        To find information on assessment resources, locate the appropriate link. 


·        For this module, scroll to Middle School Skills Improvement and choose 6th/7th/ or 8th Grade Reading Diagnostic Tests. 


·        Decide if you’re evaluating student’s narrative or expository reading skills and open the appropriate link to preview the text.


·        In order to evaluate individual student’s progress, each student will need to create a username and password. 


·        Once he/she has completed an assessment, it will be necessary to report these results to the teacher.  This can be done by having the student print his/her results page after completing an assessment. 


·        Results are stored online and can be opened/printed at any time by accessing individual accounts. 

Todo lists

Passport Tasks

Comprehension Strategies: Model use of the Seven Comprehension Strategies with the Think-Aloud strategy and a piece of content-area text
Marginalia: Using pieces of text related to your content area, have students work independantly and collaboratively on annotating the text
Text in the Middle: Using either the sample-text provided in the tutorial section, or a text of your own, have student complete a text-in-the-middle activity
Text mapping and scrolling:
Data Walls

In-FLIGHT Strategies


Module 6: Tutorials

Strategy: Marginalia

Strategy: Think Alouds

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Definition of Think Alouds

What it is When you use it Why it is effective

FLIGHT Passport Requirements

Todo lists

Passport Tasks

Assessing Reading Fluency
Assessing Reading Comprehension
Graphic Organizers
Text MappinAg Scrolling
Interacting with Text

Tools for Take-off


Module 3: Resources

Module 2: Resources


Module 8: Resources

FLIGHT PLAN for Critical Reading and Thinking


Module 10: Resources

Tools for Take-off


Module 9: Resources

In-FLIGHT Strategies

FLIGHT Passport Requirements

Todo lists

Passport Tasks

To-do item
To-do item

FLIGHT PLAN for Sharing and Applying Information

Tools for Take-off

In-FLIGHT Strategies

Flight Passport Requirements

FLIGHT Plan for Writing

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Itinerary for today's FLIGHT

“Writing today is not a frill for the few, but an essential skill for the many.”

The National Commission on Writing in America’s Schools and Colleges


Writing in the content areas engages students in recording information, making connections, exploring ideas and encouraging reflection.  Content area teachers must be cognizant of the fact that writing is on-going, may be ungraded, or can be used as a stepping stone to more formal writing.  Through reflective writing, students are able to see what they’ve learned and accomplished and build upon new knowledge in order to impact future learning and develop higher-level thinking skills. 

Tools for Take-Off


Teacher Tools for Learning to Write

Teacher Tools for Writing to Learn

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Reasons to Write

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In-Flight Strategies


Students Activities

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What is a quickwrite?

Quickwrites are a form of impromptu writing in which the student5 responds to a stimulus. The stimulus can be a leterary piece, content article, experiment, problem, or scenario. Their purpose is to help students quickly put ideas, understandings, and learnings on paper.

Journal Quickwrites

Cognitive Activities in Journal Entries (things to put in your journals) * Observations: describing what is visible, summarising, and interpreting details, or recallg key ideas. *Questioning: formulating and recording personal doublts, academic queries, validity of information, and theory. *Speculation: free to wonder about the meaning of events, issues,facts, readings, interpretations, problems, and solutions. *Self-Awareness: become conscious about what they stand for and how they are different from others. *Digression: departs from the subject to connect to something that "comes to mind." *Synthesis: Organize ideas and find relations and connections between topics.

Types of Quickwrites

* Journal Writing *Dialogue Journals *Double Entry Journals *Constructed Response *Extended Response

Dialogue Boards

This assessment focuses on students interacting with the prompt and /or each other. It can be used: -as an on-going gathering activity -to activate pror knowledge and experience -for dialogue between students based on opinion statements -as a reflection on learning -to assess what student know about a topic -to make a connection to the theme of the unit

Format of Dialogue Boards

This assessment focuses on students interacting with the prompt and /or each other. It can be used: -as an on-going gathering activity -to activate pror knowledge and experience -for dialogue between students based on opinion statements -as a reflection on learning -to assess what student know about a topic -to make a connection to the theme of the unit

FLIGHT Passport Requirements

Todo lists

Passport Tasks

Quick Write: You will create a blog for students to complete a quickwrite. The prompt(s) should be tied to a content area. Keep the time limit to 3-5 minutes for each quickwrite. Encourage students to respond to each other's blog. Bew prepared to supply the URL or show your blog in order to validate your passport.
Create a dialogue board in your classroom. Post the pictures on your Protopage or blog.
Use the Protocol for "Looking at Student Work" with one piece of your student's writing. Bring the student writing and protocol to the next session.
Do one of the following: An I-Search, RAFT, or "The Important Thing About Strong Writing.




Social Studies