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Lesson Plan

Connect With Low-Literate Families: A Three-Tiered Approach

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four or five 30-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Jennifer Soalt

Concord, Massachusetts

Donna Elder

Louisville, Kentucky

Cindy Nelson

Louisville, Kentucky


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Tier 1: Students Prepare to Take the Activity Home

Tier 2: Students Take the Activity Home

Tier 3: Students Share Their Experiences with the At-Home Activity

Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Develop fluency through repeated oral reading (echo, choral, and partner) of the same text

  • Demonstrate understanding by contributing to class discussions about vocabulary and main ideas

  • Apply what they have learned by sharing with parents or caregivers the poem or story they have learned to read

  • Make connections with what they read through journal entries

  • Reflect on their at-home experience in class

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Tier 1: Students Prepare to Take the Activity Home

Session 1

1. In a whole-class or small-group setting, read the selection aloud to students. If the selection you have chosen has a corresponding illustrated online version, you might consider sharing it with students using a projector or having students gather around several computer workstations. To differentiate a variety of reading levels, you may group students accordingly and choose different stories for each group. Groups should consist of no more than two to five students each.

2. Discuss any vocabulary words you have highlighted and any other words that students have questions about.

3. Ask the open-ended questions you developed regarding the characters and events in the selection. Invite other questions from the students and discuss.

Session 2

1. Distribute the printed version of the poem or story and have students echo read it once, repeating after you. Then choral read it as a group one or two times.

2. Take note of which students may need to be given closer instruction; this may affect how you provide instruction in Session 3.

Session 3

1. Arrange students in small groups. For struggling readers, you may want to choral read the selection with them several times before you have them join their small groups. You will need to decide whether it is more appropriate to place struggling readers separately in their own group so that you can provide more targeted, specific instruction or within groups with proficient readers who can model fluent choral reading.

2. In small teacher-led groups, have students choral read the selection. Make sure all students can read it before you send it home. (You may need to schedule more time for echo or choral reading in order to have all students reading the selection fluently and easily.)

3. If some students still cannot read the selection unassisted, provide them with an audio recording of the selection. (If you have chosen a story from the Storyline Online website, students can access the audio online.)

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Tier 2: Students Take the Activity Home

1. Distribute a journal to each student. This may be just a few stapled blank pages, or you may want to use the Journal page printout. Attach questions for students and adults to the front of the journal. These questions should be answered by both students and their parents or caregivers.

2. Tell students they will be taking the poem or story and the journal home. Their assignment is to read the selection to their parents or caregivers, and then talk together about it before drawing or writing their responses to the following questions in the journals:

  • What is your favorite part of the selection? What is your parent's or caregiver's favorite part of the selection?

  • What does the selection remind you of? What did the selection remind your parent or caregiver of?

  • Who is your favorite character and why? Who is your parent's or caregiver's favorite character and why?
Choose one or two of these questions to model, showing students how you would draw or write answers to the questions on the journal pages. Students should write or draw their answers to the questions and be prepared to share their parents' responses. Parents may choose to tell, write, or draw their answers. Let students know that it is okay for them and their parents or caregivers to write in either English or their native language.

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Tier 3: Students Share Their Experiences with the At-Home Activity

1. Bring students together to discuss their experiences with the at-home activity.

2. Encourage students to discuss any connections their families made to the selection and to show any pictures or writing about the selection that their families did. Scaffold the conversation by asking some or all of the same questions you posed to students when giving them instructions for the take-home activity.

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  • Through classroom observations and notes, assess each student’s ability to:

    • Read the selection fluently

    • Participate in and grasp the discussions on vocabulary and main ideas

    • Contribute to the small-group activity

    • Reflect on the poem or story and their connections to it through the take-home exercise

    In addition to assessing the above, this activity is significant because it helps you find ways to build on children's at-home literacy experiences.

  • The discussion conducted in Tier 3 will help you to assess whether students benefited from the activity. If any students were unable to share their poems or stories with their families, treat the situation sensitively. Consider options for future take-home activities for students who may need additional support, either during the preparation for the activity or with further guidance for parents or caregivers. Some students may also benefit from having an “alternate adult listener” available if they are unable to share take-home activities with their families.

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