Purpose-Driven Reading

Purpose-driven reading requires a pedagogical shift. That is, we have to think differently about the texts we ask our students to read. For example, instead of selecting a text because of the content or because we like it, we want to select texts that lend themselves well to the teaching of specific literacy skills and objectives. Purpose-driven reading, therefore, begins with learning targets. Often referred to as backward planning, teachers identify what they want their students to know and do before selecting a text. After a text has been selected, teachers read it the way they want their students to read it. Reading like your students will help you identify challenging sections in the text and predetermine scaffolds/supports for your students. When making text selections, expose students to a wide range of complex texts studied in your discipline/subject area.


Once a text is selected, teachers create writing prompts and/or performance tasks that focus and drive the reading, maximizing students' comprehension and retention of critical content knowledge. Writing prompts that drive reading tasks also create opportunities for skill practice. Before every reading, students can practice prompt analysis skills to break down a writing task and use it to make important decisions about the reading skills they will need to meet the learning target. Since we are focused on teaching literacy skills, we should provide a text-dependent writing prompt and/or performance task every time we ask our students to read a text. Although students do not answer the prompt every time, they can practice analyzing prompts and learn how to engage in purpose-driven reading. 

When selecting texts for pedagogical purposes, we will want to ask questions like...

  • What types of texts should my students read?
  • What types of texts are studied in my discipline?
  • What is the purpose for selecting these texts?
  • How should my students read the texts I assign?
  • What do I want my students to know and be able to do as a result of their reading?

There are a number of efficient ways to create writing prompts and/or performance tasks. First, we recommend using LiteracyTA's Prompt Builder. This flexible teaching tool provides a bridge for all content area teachers as they learn how to write sophisticated writing tasks that are Common Core aligned. Teachers can also create purpose-driven reading by turning learning objectives at the beginning of a chapter or section into questions or moving review questions forward to help students focus and drive their reading.


Literacy Standards In Action

We've mapped our literacy lessons and reading, speaking, and writing skills to state standards, Common Core, and NGSS. The standards are "the what" to teach. Our lessons are "the how" to meet the expectations defined by the standards. Click on the links below to view our quick reference table that maps standards to literacy lessons.

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