1st Edition

Re-envisioning the Literacy Block
A Guide to Maximizing Instruction in Grades K-8

ISBN 9781138903531
Published September 17, 2015 by Routledge
238 Pages 38 B/W Illustrations

USD $35.95

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Book Description

How do you ensure you’re using literacy instruction effectively to meet the needs of all of your students? In this book from Diana and Betsy Sisson, you’ll learn an innovative approach to using the literacy block in a gradual release model that allows you to provide grade-appropriate teaching as well as meaningful, individualized instruction to close the academic gaps of struggling learners and offer accelerated experiences for advanced students.

What’s Inside

·Part I of the book lays out the authors’ framework for the Core Block.

·Part II explains how to use the re-envisioned block to integrate the core components of word study, vocabulary development, strategic reading instruction, writers’ craft, and expanded reading opportunities,,

·Part III reveals how to use differentiation, project-based learning, and assessment to prepare students for new literacy demands.

·The appendix provides literacy block schedules, tools for phonics development and morphology study, and correlations to the Common Core.

Each chapter includes practical tools and examples, as well as "In Action" boxes show how the ideas look in an authentic classroom.

Table of Contents


Meet the Authors


Chapter 1 Historical Trends in Literacy Instruction

      • Brief History of Reading Methodology
      • Origins of the Literacy Block and Guided Reading
      • Benefits & Challenges of the Literacy Block

Chapter 2 The Core Block

      • Gradual Release of Responsibility Instructional Model
      • Overview of Components in the Core Block

Whole-Group Instruction

Word Study


Comprehension and Fluency

    • Guided Reading
    • Small-Group Application

      • The Core Block "In Action"
      • Conclusion


Chapter 3 Word Study

      • Significance of Word Study for Literacy Achievement
      • Phonemic Awareness
      • Phonics Development
      • Morphology
      • Word Study "In Action"
      • Conclusion

Chapter 4 Vocabulary Development

      • Significance of Vocabulary for Literacy Achievement
      • Key Principles for Robust Vocabulary Acquisition
      • Personalized Vocabulary Study
      • Vocabulary APP Centers
      • Vocabulary "In Action"
      • Conclusion

Chapter 5 Strategic Reading Instruction

      • Significance of Comprehension for Literacy Achievement
      • Comprehension APP Centers
      • Universal Comprehension Strategy Instruction
      • Standards-Based Strategy Instruction
      • Prescriptive Strategy Instruction
      • Integrated Strategy Instruction
      • Fluency's Role in Comprehending Text
      • Comprehension Strategies "In Action"
      • Conclusion

Chapter 6 Writers' Craft

      • Significance of Writers' Craft for Literacy Achievement
      • The Reading-Writing Connection
      • Integrating Writing Instruction in the Classroom

Intentional Planning

Explicit Instruction

Modeled Writing

Shared Writing

Guided Practice

Independent Practice

Targeted Mini-Lessons

Ongoing Conferences

      • Writers' Craft "In Action"
      • Conclusion

Chapter 7 Expanded Reading Opportunities

      • Significance of Expanded Time for Student Reading on Literacy Achievement
      • Read Aloud
      • Independent Reading
      • Book Groups
      • Extended Reading Opportunities "In Action"
      • Conclusion


Chapter 8 Differentiating Instruction

      • Individualizing Instruction for Students
      • Content
      • Process
      • Product
      • Conclusion

Chapter 9 Project-Based Learning

      • What is Project-Based Learning?
      • The Power of Project-Based Learning
      • Misconceptions About Project-Based Learning
      • Obstacles in Implementing Project-Based Learning
      • Integration of Projects into Literacy Block
      • Suggested PBL Study Topics
      • Conclusion

Chapter 10 Assessment

      • Attributes of Effective Assessment

Aligned to Instructional Purpose

Reflective of the Learning Process

Flexible to Meet the Needs of Teachers, Students, and the Classroom

Geared to Inform Instruction

Developed as Ongoing Cycle for Teaching and Learning



Ongoing Assessment

Outcome Assessment

      • Varied Means of Assessment

Anecdotal Records

Constructed-Response Assessments

Developmental Spelling Assessments

Early Literacy Assessments


Informal Reading Inventories

Objective Tests

Oral Reading Fluency Measures

Oral Retelling

Performance Assessments



Running Records


Standardized Tests

      • Conclusion

APPENDIX Appendix A - Literacy Block Schedules

Appendix B - Phonics Development

Appendix C - Morphology Study

Appendix D - Common Core Standards


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Diana Sisson and Betsy Sisson are international literacy consultants focusing on professional development and school improvement. They also serve as adjunct professors in the fields of teacher preparation, curriculum and instruction, research in literacy, and special educational programming.


"Organizing the literacy block can be very challenging with the rigorous and complex curriculum demands of the Common Core, not to mention the additional challenges of meeting all students’ needs through differentiation. So many teachers come to me frustrated and asking, "How do I fit it all in?" This book is a fantastic resource!"

--Karina Nevers, Learning Strategist, Las Vegas, NV

"Diana and Betsy Sisson’s book Re-envisioning the Literacy Block blends the theoretical with practical applications that provide excellent resources and tools for educators to become quality literacy teachers. Not only does the book offer teachers direct resources to impact their instruction, it also provides them with strategies to share with parents so they are better equipped to help their children develop and practice their literacy skills at home." 

--Ann Linson, Superintendent, East Noble School Corporation, Kendallville, IN