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Early Literacy

If classroom instruction is:

  • Intentional, aligned with standards, and designed to be student-centered and personalized (or relevant) to the needs of the students in the classroom,
  • Integrated so that it brings relevance and rigor to the learning, allows students to connect ideas and transfer knowledge across content areas,
  • Supported with timely and focused interventions when necessary, then student achievement and engagement in early literacy and mathematics will increase.

The state academic standards simply state the goals related to content of what students are expected to know; designing and implementing instruction that support students in achieving these goals is a decision made by educators in local districts and classrooms. The Office of Educational Supports has launched the Early Literacy and Mathematics Initiative (ELMI) to support educators with successful implementation of the state standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics. Messaging and supports are designed to highlight six examples of instructional practices, three for early literacy and three for early mathematics.

Specific Early Literacy Instructional Practices

There are many specific instructional practices that have been shown to be effective in raising the literacy achievement of children in prekindergarten through third grade. Within the standards categories highlighted, we have chosen three examples of instructional practices that explore: interactive read-aloud with a vocabulary focus, interactive writing, and using informational text to build literacy and content knowledge. Our criteria for selecting these three example practices were as follows: (a) supported by research (see below); (b) could be used in different parts of the school day (e.g., in science as well as during time set aside specifically for reading and writing instruction); (c) relatively easy to implement; and (d) enhanced other approaches districts, schools, and teachers may already be using to teach literacy. In addition, these particular practices have been written in school-improvement friendly language so that these goals can easily be included as resources to support school improvement plans.

Early Literacy Instructional Practices

Informational Text Foundational Skills Vocabulary
Incorporate informational text to build literacy and content knowledge. Incorporate interactive writing to teach foundational skill standards. Instruct academic vocabulary through interactive read alouds.


Find research to support these practices in Supporting Early Literacy Instructional Practices.

Informational Text Resources

Using Informational Text to Build Literacy and Content Knowledge - Nell K. Duke, University of Michigan

Using Informational Text to Build Literacy and Content Knowledge: Teacher Development - Nell K. Duke, University of Michigan and Kathy Fish, 2nd Grade Teacher

Interactive Writing and Foundational Skills Resources

Interactive Writing with Attention to the RFSS

Read Aloud and Vocabulary Resources

Interactive Read Alouds to Promote Content Knowledge and Vocabulary Development - Tanya S. Wright, Michigan State University

Read Aloud with Attention to Vocabulary - Tanya S. Wright, Michigan State University

Related Links to Support Early Literacy

Leverage School Librarians for 3rd Grade Reading Proficiency - from the Michigan Association for Media in Education (MAME)

Empowering DAP Strategies for Literacy in Early Childhood Programs by Nell K. Duke, Ed.D.