Skill Instruction Pacing Guide

We have developed a Skill Instruction Pacing Guide to support teachers as they implement skill-based instruction. Our pacing guide explicitly calls out effective skill instruction practices that will help students learn and master reading, writing, and speaking skills.

Our pacing guide supports balanced literacy and gradual release of responsibility models in three ways: (1) it offers steps for modeled and guided instruction; (2) it identifies effective student interactions; and (3) it explains when it is appropriate to move students toward more independent work.

The pacing guide provides instruction for both teachers and students. It is divided into 4 six week units or Zones. Every six weeks, students move to another Zone if they demonstrate proficiency as measured by our skill rubrics. Literacy skills are not included in the pacing guide. Teachers can select their own literacy skills from our Skill Library or use our recommended sequence of skills.

Here is an example of the Pacing Guide for Skill Development
Pacing What do the students do? What does the teacher do?
First Six Weeks

Cognitive Skills
Knowledge and Comprehension

Mimic what the teacher does.
 

Seek to understand what to do and how to do it.

Explicitly model how to use skills and complete activities.

Set high expectations for student work: penmanship, organization, and thinking.

Classroom teachers, departments, and professional teams can use our pacing guide to develop curriculum units and common teaching practices. The goal of our Skill Instruction Pacing Guide is to create predictable skill routines that promote self-directed learners who develop the ability to strategically and independently apply skill knowledge.

The guide recommends effective teaching practices every six weeks to ensure students move toward mastery over the year. As students learn skills, they progress through four cognitive zones.

Zone 1: Knowledge and Comprehension
Zone 2: Application and Demonstration
Zone 3: Evaluation and Judgment
Zone 4: Synthesis and Creation

Students should demonstrate a level of proficiency (60 - 70% on the skill rubrics) before moving to another cognitive zone. As students enter into Zone 2, they are ready to learn and practice more skills. Continue using the pacing guide for Zone 1 and 2. Eventually, your students will be in all four Zones and learning new skills while rehearsing some they have already mastered.

Here is what skill instruction can look like after 18 weeks. You will want to refer to the Skill Instruction Pacing Guide to learn more about what the teacher and students do in each Zone.

Sample 18 Week Skill Instruction Pacing Guide
  Learning the Skill
Zone 1: Knowledge and Comprehension
Developing the Skill
Zone 2: Application and Demonstration
Mastering the Skill
Zone 3: Evaluation and Judgment
First Six Weeks Predicting Skills
Prompt Analysis Skills
Comprehension Reading Skills
   
Second Six Weeks Summary Writing Skills
Revising and Editing Skills
Marking a Text
Predicting Skills
Prompt Analysis Skills
Comprehension Reading Skills
 
Third Six Weeks Examining Evidence Skills
Writing with Sources
Writing Process
Summary Writing Skills
Revising and Editing Skills
Marking a Text
Predicting Skills
Prompt Analysis Skills
Comprehension Reading Skills

We recommend beginning the year with a diagnostic exam that assesses what students know about the skills you want to teach. From this assessment, you will be able to make some decisions about what skills need to be placed in Zone 1, Zone 2, and so on. Remember, introduce 3-5 skills at a time so that students have a chance to learn them.

This work takes time. Resist the urge to move on to something else. Students will not get bored if we explain the importance of this work and use various skill instruction methods to keep them interested and coming back for more.

Guides and Resources

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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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