Literacy texts. Developing readers need to confront texts that are challenging, meaningful, and engaging. Texts should allow learners to practice component literacy skills (described below) and support them as they stretch beyond existing skills. Instructors should carefully select texts with the appropriate level of difficulty: texts that both draw on knowledge students have already mastered and also present challenges. Instructors also should provide prompts and other forms of support to learners as they work their way through challenging texts.
Effective instruction uses a variety of texts because when learners acquire knowledge and skills across multiple contexts, they are better able to retain what they learn and transfer it to new tasks and situations. Unfortunately, there are few reading materials that are designed to foster the component skills of developing readers while offering interesting and useful content to adolescents and adults. A priority for research is to develop and evaluate materials and texts that can support this key element of effective instruction.
Literacy tools. Being literate demands proficiency with current tools and practices that require reading and writing—including digital and online media used to communicate with others and to gather, evaluate, and synthesize information. It is important, therefore, to offer reading and writing instruction that incorporates the use of both print and digital methods of communication. This type of instruction prepares learners to accomplish important reading and writing tasks that are indispensable in today’s world.
Literacy activities and purposes. Novice learners require thousands of hours of practice to develop expertise in complex domains such as reading and writing. Even those who are not novices require substantial practice using reading and writing skills for particular purposes. To motivate learners to persist for the long time it takes to develop expertise, it is important for instructors to understand the component literacy skills that learners need to meet today’s social, educational, workplace, and personal demands, and plan instruction with activities that develop those skills.
This type of instruction, which helps learners develop component skills as they perform practical literacy tasks, also increases the likelihood that literacy skills will be used outside the classroom. Research on learning has shown that the likelihood of transferring a newly learned skill to a new task depends on the similarity between the new task and the tasks used for learning. Therefore, literacy instruction is most likely to lead to durable, transferable learning if it incorporates real-world activities, tasks, and tools.
In addition, activities that integrate reading and writing instruction contribute to the development of both skills. Reading and writing require some of the same knowledge