Education Department


Middle School Literacy Project: Revealing Theories, Transforming Practices

Informing Theories and Effective Practices
Instructional Framework
Measure of Success

Internet Resources for Teachers
Photo Slideshow


The Middle School Literacy Project is funded by ACTS in PA through the Teacher Quality Enhancement federal grant. Professor Cathy Y. Kim in the Education Department serves as the director for the project.

The Middle School Literacy Project is designed to meet the needs of middle school teachers in literacy instruction with the following underlying principles evident in research:

  • All teachers are reading and writing teachers. Teachers need a deep understanding of the reading and writing processes in order to teach reading, language arts, and other content areas;

  • There are a set of metacognitive strategies that good readers use. Making these strategies explicit to students and teaching them to utilize the strategies is one of the goals of effective reading instruction;
  • Reading, for many adults, is a fluent and automatic process. An effective professional development offers teachers an opportunity to experience and understand the reading process through active engagement with texts using the strategies that readers use; and
  • Literacy learning includes a strong social component as part of the learning process. The community of learners established in the learning environment is essential in developing readers and writers.

The main goals of the Middle School Literacy Project are 1) to inform teachers about theories and processes of reading and writing; and 2) to provide a repertoire of strategies and activities that support effective literacy instruction. Specifically, upon completion, participants should demonstrate the following:

  • Increase their understanding of reading and writing processes through theories of reader response, comprehension, vocabulary acquisition, and content area literacy;
  • Design and implement lessons that reflect best practices including using effective literacy instructional strategies;
  • Administer, interpret and use results from classroom assessment tools that can be used to measure student reading progress and growth;
  • Organize their instruction and classroom in ways that facilitate literacy growth of all students, including students with special needs, limited English proficiency, physical problems, and learning disabilities; and
  • Develop skills in using technology as a means for improving their own learning and implementing effective classroom practices.

Ultimately, the project aims to transform literacy practices in classrooms of all content areas.