K-6 Literacy Learning Activity Types[1], 2

Teaching K-6 literacy is a complex instructional task that requires knowledge of how children learn to read and write. The K-6 literacy learning activity types identified here attempt to simplify the complexity of teaching a child to read and write by subdividing these processes into manageable learning activities that effectively integrate technology, pedagogy and content. This list of literacy learning activity types is offered as a preliminary organizational structure to help scaffold teachers’ thinking about how one might design engaging literacy learning activities that challenge young learners to read and write.

As one begins to think about all of the reading knowledge, skills and strategies that are included in teaching elementary literacy, it is easy to become a bit overwhelmed. Although there are several organizational structures that could be used to arrange this information into learning activity types, keeping the categories simple and related directly to the essential components of reading and writing seems most appropriate for primary grade levels. Thus, the K-6 literacy learning activity types focus on helping students develop two very important learning processes: reading and writing. There are also several subcategories within these two categories of activity types that address specific skills or strategies that are required in teaching children to read and write.

The Reading Process Activity Types

Successful readers thoroughly understand the processes involved in reading. The Reading Process activity types are divided into six subcategories that promote the processes involved in learning to read. Elementary children are typically taught specific literacy skills and strategies that they can use before they begin to read, while they read and after they read. Therefore the first three subcategories include: Pre-Reading activity types, During-Reading activity types, and Post-Reading activity types. Additional subcategories also must be included in this list because more skills are critical to the reading process and the development of good readers. These subcategories are components common to most beginning reading programs, and include Vocabulary activity types, Comprehension activity types, and Fluency activity types.

Each subcategory of the Reading Process activity types is presented in a separate table below that names the activity type, defines it, then suggests some technologies that might be used to support the particular type of learning activity named.


The Pre-Reading Activity Types

The goal of the pre-reading activity types is to prepare students for reading and to activate their prior knowledge before they read.

Table 1: The Pre-Reading Activity Types

Activity Type

Brief Description

Example Technologies

Develop Alphabetic Knowledge

Students name the letters of the alphabet and recognize the letter symbols in print

Educational software (e.g. Bailey’s Bookhouse), Read•Write•Think, Digital Alphabet Books, LeapFrog Tag Books, Gamequarium (online)

Develop Phonemic Awareness

Students hear, identify and manipulate sounds in words

Educational software (e.g., JumpStart Phonics), Living Books, podcasting, Gamequarium (online), Read•Write•Think

Develop Decoding Skills

Students learn the connections between letter patterns and the sounds they represent

Educational software (e.g., Reader Rabbit Series), Reading Pen, Interactive whiteboard, Gamequarium (online), Read•Write•Think

Introduce Vocabulary

Students are introduced to and learn unfamiliar key words before they read

Educational software (e.g., Clifford the Big Red Dog Series, I Spy), Read•Write•Think, Reading Pen, interactive whiteboard

Activate Prior Knowledge

Students think about what they already know about the topic prior to reading

Multimedia software, word processing, concept mapping software, Web-based video streaming, student response systems (“clickers”)

Make Predictions

Students make predictions about text that will be read

Multimedia software, word processing, Web-based video streaming, student response systems (“clickers”)

 

The During-Reading Activity Types

The goal of the during-reading activity types is to develop readers who check their understanding as they read, integrating their new understanding with existing knowledge.

Table 2: The During-Reading Activity Types

Activity Type

Brief Description

Example Technologies

Read Aloud

Students actively listen to an oral reading of a book

Storyline Online, BookFlix, e-books, educational software (e.g., WiggleWorks), podcast, Leap Frog Tag Books

Think Aloud

Students say out loud what they are thinking while reading

Storyline Online, BookFlix, e-books, video creation software

Guided Reading

Students learn how to think about text by reading in small groups, engaging in discussion, and completing a mini-lesson/learning activity

e-books, BookFlix, WiggleWorks

Directed Listening/Thinking Activity (DL-TA)

Students predict and respond to a story while the teacher reads

Storyline Online, BookFlix, e-books, WiggleWorks, podcast, Student response systems (clickers)

Directed Reading/Thinking Activity (DR-TA)

Students make predictions about a story and then read to confirm or reject their predictions

Storyline Online, BookFlix, e-books, WiggleWorks, podcast, student response systems (“clickers”)

Discussion

Students discuss text being read with the teacher, other students or another individual

Blogs, wikis, online discussion groups

Whole Class Literature Study

Students participate in a literature study that includes reading aloud/along, whole-class/small-group discussions, and whole-class mini-lessons

e-books, Storyline Online, BookFlix, WiggleWorks, podcast

Literature Circles

Students choose their own books, form small-groups and meet regularly to read and discuss the books

Storyline Online, BookFlix, e-books, blogs, wikis, online discussion groups, podcast

Reader’s Workshop

Students participate in mini-lessons to teach reading strategies, spend time reading independently, and then meet to share, discuss and reflect

Storyline Online, BookFlix, e-books, blogs, wikis, online discussion groups, podcast

Book Clubs

Students read books, take part in peer-led discussions, and participate in a community sharing session

Storyline Online, BookFlix, e-books, blogs, wikis, online discussion groups, podcast

Sustained Silent Reading (SSR)

Students read silently for a designated period of time (10-30 minutes)

e-books, podcast, Storyline Online, BookFlix,

Independent Reading

Students make their own book choices, set independent reading goals and read for extended period of time

e-books, podcast, Storyline Online, BookFlix,

The Post-Reading Activity Types

The goal of the post-reading activity types is to assess students’ interpretation and comprehension of the text that was read.

Table 3: The Post-Reading Activity Types

Activity Type

Brief Description

Example Technologies

Summarizing

Students summarize or paraphrase the major points of a story after reading it

Timeliner XE, Read•Write•Think, video creation software, podcast, comic creation software, video sharing sites

Retelling

Students tell what they remember about a story

Timeliner XE, drawing software, video creation software, podcast, comic creation software

Sharing

Students share information with others about books they have read or heard

Video creation software, podcast, video sharing sites

 

Visualizing

Students use images and visual imagery to recall what they remember about a story

Drawing software, word processing, image editor, digital photography, Read•Write•Think, comic creation software, interactive whiteboard

Discussing

Students discuss favorite parts or elements of a story

Blogs, wikis, online discussion groups

Drawing Conclusions

Students use written or visual clues to figure out something that is not directly stated in the reading

Word processing, educational simulation software (e.g., Decisions, Decisions), video creation software, multimedia software. comic creation software, interactive whiteboard

Evaluating

Students form opinions, make judgments, and develop ideas after reading

Read•Write•Think, word processing, multimedia software, student response systems (“clickers”)

Quizzing/Testing

Students take a quiz or test about a story or a selection of text they read

Integrated learning system (e.g., Accelerated Reader), online quiz software, student response systems (“clickers”)

Creating Projects/Artifacts

Students create a project or artifact as a culminating activity that illustrates what they have learned

comic and/or video creation software, drawing software, multimedia software, iPhoto, podcast, Read•Write•Think, video sharing sites

The Vocabulary Activity Types

The goal of the vocabulary learning activity types is to increase the number of words that are recognized and used by a reader.

Table 4: The “Vocabulary”

Activity Type

Brief Description

Example Technologies

Vocabulary Awareness

Students increase their knowledge of words by building sight vocabulary and understanding phonological and morphological patterns

Read•Write•Think , educational software, drawing software, interactive whiteboard, Reading Pen

Vocabulary Analysis

Students build and sort words to study their patterns

Word processing, educational software, Read•Write•Think, drawing software, interactive whiteboard

Vocabulary Use

Students study how words combine to form sentences

Read•Write•Think, word processing, educational software, interactive whiteboard

 

The Comprehension Activity Types

The goal of the comprehension activity types is to ascertain a reader’s understanding of a passage of text.

Table 5: The Comprehension Activity Types

Activity Type

Brief Description

Example Technologies

Cloze Technique

Students insert words that have been omitted as they read to complete and construct meaning from text

Cloze software, online “Mad Libs,” word processing, interactive whiteboard

Semantic Feature Analysis

Students use a grid to explore the similarities and differences among events, people, objects or ideas

Spreadsheet software, word processing (tables), interactive whiteboard

Graphic Organizers/Charts

Students use visual and graphic organizers that illustrate relationships among facts, terms or ideas

Concept mapping software, interactive whiteboard

Cause and Effect

Students identify how an action or event will produce a certain response to the action in the form of another event

e-books, concept mapping software, educational software, interactive whiteboard

Compare and Contrast

Students identify how things are alike and different

e-books, concept mapping software, educational software, Read•Write•Think, interactive whiteboard

Inferences

Students use clues to learn more about the story and make a conclusion or judgment based on that information

e-books, educational software, interactive whiteboard

Story Pyramid

Students summarize a story by building a pyramid of information (e.g., describe main character, setting, state the problem)

e-books, concept mapping software, word processor

Picture Walk

Teacher guides students through text by looking at and discussing the pictures before reading

Multimedia software, iPhoto, interactive whiteboard

SQ3R

Students use a 5-step reading strategy (i.e., survey, question, read, recite, review) to formulate a purpose for reading

e-books, word processor

Reciprocal Teaching

Students and teacher participate in dialogue structured by summarizing, question generating, clarifying and predicting to bring meaning to text

e-books, voice recording, video creation software

Reciprocal Questioning (ReQuest)

Students analyze their comprehension while reading by developing questions to ask the teacher after reading a selection

e-books, voice recording, word processing

Point-of-View

Students identify the author’s point of view and purpose

e-books, educational software, digital photography

Question-Answer Relationships (QAR)

Students search for answers based upon the type of question that was asked (i.e., Right there, Think and search, Author and you, On my own)

e-books, online newspapers/magazines

Think-Pair-Share

Students talk about the content they are reading by thinking about a question or prompt, pairing up with a student to discuss and sharing their thinking with rest of class

e-books, online newspapers/magazines, Web sites

Story Map

Students identify and map the basic elements of a story (i.e., setting, characters, problem/conflict, point of view, resolution)

Concept mapping software, Read•Write•Think, interactive whiteboard

3-2-1 Chart

Students summarize and rethink key ideas by listing: 3 things they found out, 2 interesting things, and 1 question they still have

Word processing software, spreadsheet software, concept mapping software

The Fluency Activity Types

The goal of using the fluency activity types is to improve a reader’s speed or rate of reading and his/her ability to read with expression.

Table 6: The “Fluency” Activity Types

Activity Type

Brief Description

Example Technologies

Model Fluent Reading

Students listen to readers who read words fluently and automatically

Voice recording, podcast, video creation software, video sharing sites, educational software, Storyline Online, BookFlix

Choral Reading

Students read aloud as an entire group in unison

Voice recording, podcast

Paired Reading

Student and a fluent reader read text together

Voice recording, podcast, educational software

Repeated Reading

Student reads the text aloud with a fluent reader, then rereads the text alone

Voice recording, podcast

Reader’s Theater

Students perform an oral reading with an audience present using a script

Voice recording, video recording, podcast

Radio Reading

Student reads aloud a selection of text and then initiates a discussion with an audience by asking specific questions

Voice recording, podcast

Recitation

Students present a spoken performance of a speech or piece of poetry in public

Voice recording, video sharing Web sites

Drama

Students perform, usually by memorization, a play or story for an audience

Video recording, digital storytelling, video sharing sites, podcast

Storytelling

Students tell stories or narratives often by improvisation or embellishment

Digital storytelling, video creation software, voice recording software

Debate

Students hold a structured discussion by debating both sides of an issue/proposition

Video recording, podcast

 

The Writing Process Activity Types

Good readers are good writers. The writing process activity types include five subcategories of activities that promote the processes involved in learning how to write. Elementary children are typically involved in writing programs like Writer’s Workshop and/or 6+1 Trait Writing to develop their writing skills. The three subcategories that contain activities related to the writing process include pre-writin, during writing, and post-writing activity types. Two other subcategories included here contain writing conventions and writing genres activity types.

Each subcategory of writing process activity types is presented in a separate table below, naming each activity type, defining it, and suggesting technologies to support its use for learning.

The Pre-Writing Activity Types

The goals of learning that is structured using pre-writing activity types are to prepare students for writing and to activate their prior knowledge before they write.

Table 7: The Pre-Writing Activity Types

Activity Type

Brief Description

Example Technologies

Brainstorming

Students list as many topics as possible to write about

Word processing, Timeliner XE, Read•Write•Think, interactive whiteboard, concept mapping software

Concept Mapping

Students develop a visual or diagram that illustrates the relationships among concepts

Concept mapping software, Timeliner XE, interactive whiteboard

Storyboarding

Students develop a series of panels that outline the sequence of what pictures will be seen and what audio and/or voice will accompany the pictures

Concept mapping software, Timeliner XE, multimedia software, interactive whiteboard

Visualizing

Students create mental images before they write

Drawing software, iPhoto, Read•Write•Think

Freewriting

Students start writing and just keep going, not worrying about style or mistakes

Word processing, drawing software

Journaling

Students write journal entries to brainstorm topics of personal interest, to note observations and to reflect upon their thinking

Word processing, blogs, wikis

Listing

Students generate a list of topics, phrases, and/or sentences before they begin to write

Word processing, concept mapping software, interactive whiteboard

Outlining

Students use a formal system of planning to think about and organize their writing

Word processing, concept mapping software, Read•Write•Think, interactive whiteboard

 

The During-Writing Activity Types

The goal of the during-writing activity types is to develop writers who constantly improve their writing by revising, editing, and considering feedback from others.

Table 8: The During Writing Activity Types

Activity Type

Brief Description

Example Technologies

Drafting/Composing

Students write a draft of a story, putting ideas into sentences and paragraphs

Word processing, SubEthaEdit, Storybook Weaver Deluxe, drawing software, video creation software, multimedia software

Revising

Students improve their writing by adding details, rearranging information, deleting information, and/or replacing information

Word processing, drawing software, video creation software, multimedia software, collaborative word processor

Editing

Students correct mechanics, grammar and spelling

Word processing, drawing software, video creation software, multimedia software, collaborative word processor

Responding

Students offer suggestions to peers for improving content, organization and clarity of writing piece

Word processing, podcast, videoconference, educational software, collaborative word processor

Conferencing

Students meet with teachers and/or peers to discuss and evaluate a piece of writing

Collaborative word processor, podcast, videoconference

 

The Post-Writing Activity Types

The goal of the post-writing activity types is to provide opportunities for students to share, publish, evaluate and present their final writing pieces to an audience.

Table 9: The Post-Writing Activity Types

Activity Type

Brief Description

Example Technologies

Sharing

Students orally share their writing with peers/others

Drawing software, multimedia software, podcast, collaborative word processor

Publishing

Students publish their writing for peers/others

Word processing, drawing software, video creation software, multimedia software, podcasting, digital storytelling,, online publishing sites, Read•Write•Think

Evaluating

Students evaluate writing of peers and provide feedback

Word processing, blogs, online discussion groups

Presentation

Students combine textual and visual elements to present their writing for peers/others

Drawing software, multimedia software, digital storytelling

Performance

Students present a dramatic performance of their writing for peers/others

Drawing software, multimedia software, digital storytelling, podcast

 

The Writing Conventions Activity Types

The goal of the writing conventions activity types is to develop writers who can enhance the readability of their writing pieces.

Table 10: The Writing Conventions Activity Types

Activity Type

Brief Description

Example Technologies

Letter/Word Formation

Students write/type lowercase and uppercase letters; Students write/type words (i.e., root, prefix, suffix)

Word processing, drawing software, Read•Write•Think, interactive whiteboard

Writing Sentences/ Paragraphs

Students construct complete sentences and combine sentences to compose a paragraph (topic sentence, supporting details, closing sentence)

Word processing, drawing software, interactive whiteboard

Spelling

Students use correct spelling when writing

Word processing, educational software, Gamequarium (online), interactive whiteboard

Mechanics

Students use correct punctuation and capitalization when writing

Word processing, Gamequarium (online), interactive whiteboard

Grammar

Students use formal rules about language usage including parts of speech when writing

Word processing, Gamequarium (online) Read•Write•Think, interactive whiteboard

 

The Writing Genres Activity Types

The goal of the writing genres activity types is for students to write across genres, understanding form, purpose and content for each. The activity types are listed in the table below.


Table 11: The Writing Genres

Activity Type

Brief Description

Example Technologies

Descriptive

Students describe people, places, objects, or events using details

Word processing, Read•Write•Think, drawing software, comic creation software, multimedia software

Expository/ Informative

Students give information or convey an idea to another person

Word processing, drawing software, comic creation software, multimedia software

Narrative

Students tell a story from a particular point of view

Word processing, Read•Write•Think, drawing software, comic creation software,

Summarizing

Students analyze information and then state in their own words

Word processing, multimedia software, drawing software, comic creation software,, iPhoto

Persuasive

Students present a case for or against a particular position

Word processing, Read•Write•Think, multimedia software

Technical/Procedural

Students explain instructions or directions for completing a task

Word processing, multimedia software

Poetry

Students express imaginative awareness by using repetition, meter and/or rhyme

Word processing, Read•Write•Think, drawing software, comic creation software, multimedia software

Creative

Students express their thoughts and feelings in a unique way

Word processing, Read•Write•Think, drawing software, comic creation software, video creation software, multimedia software

Transactional

Students write to communicate ideas with each other

Email, blogs, wikis, online discussion groups, Read•Write•Think

 



[1] Suggested citation (APA format, 6th ed.):

Schmidt, D., Harris, J., & Hofer, M. (2009, February). K-6 literacy learning activity types. Retrieved from College of William and Mary, School of Education, Learning Activity Types Wiki: http://activitytypes.wmwikis.net/file/view/K-6LiteracyLearningATs-Feb09.pdf

2

“K-6 Literacy Learning Activity Types” by Denise A. Schmidt, Judi Harris and Mark Hofer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at activitytypes.wmwikis.net.