Keys to Literacy in Action

The English Department is in the third year of its implementation of Keys to Literacy, and both students and teachers continue to develop from its use. We have integrated KTL strategies into the curriculum across all grades and all levels, which has really helped us to focus on necessary skills and effective scaffolding. As the English department shifts its curricular focus, moving away from text-based instruction to skills-based instruction, KTL has been really helpful.

Though I was initially skeptical about how the comprehension strategies would be effective tools for students in upper grades and levels, I have found that they work well with all my students. It's just a matter of applying them appropriately and with the right content.

I used KTL's focus on different Bloom's Taxonomy when helping students to facilitate class conversations. As part of an activity on how to prepare for critical frame student-led discussions, students generated questions that reached different cognitive levels on Bloom’s Taxonomy. After working in groups to develop inquiries that addressed understanding, analyzing, and evaluation, my students wrote their questions on the whiteboard tables in our alcove and engaged in a “silent discussion” by walking around the room and answering them. Now, when students prepare for in-class discussions, they know to create a list of questions that facilitate academic conversations and help their peers access the text at different levels.

 Students making use of our new whiteboard tables in the English alcove to share the questions they generated on summer reading texts:  The Handmaid's Tale  and  1984 .

Students making use of our new whiteboard tables in the English alcove to share the questions they generated on summer reading texts: The Handmaid's Tale and 1984.

Introduction to Film and Media students have also been working with KTL. Using two-column notes to help them understand how media representation impacts social behavior, as well as how filmmakers use visual techniques to convey meaning, students employed one of the more basic tools of the Keys to Literacy program to understand some complex material. This is an assignment students completed after talking about two contemporary family sitcoms, Modern Family and Blackish. Here is an assignment that is helping students organize their thoughts about substantive scenes in the film Pleasantville.

KTL has been really helpful in giving students the foundational skills they need to read and think critically and communicate effectively. Because students have been working with these tools across the curriculum and the language is familiar, they are easily able to dive into assignments and get to the important work.