Collaborative Literacy

Collaborative Literacy was intentionally designed to develop strong readers and writers, and to create classroom communities in which students can learn and grow. Comprised of three modules, Being a Reader™, Making Meaning®, and Being a Writer™, Collaborative Literacy addresses the core competencies traditionally taught in the language arts block.

The Center for the Collaborative Classroom recognizes that educators will need options that are flexible to support their students’ learning in a variety of circumstances and formats.   The Remote Guidance is designed to support teachers in transitioning from an “in person” format to either a blended or fully remote design.  To support instructional planning, the guidance is organized by beginning-, middle- and end-of-year and provides instructional guidance, essential learning, and at-home activities.

With Collaborative Literacy, we imagined a learning paradigm in which social and emotional learning is an intrinsic part of reading and writing instruction. Developed as a comprehensive, research-based K–6 literacy curriculum, the program encompasses all the components, strategies, and skills traditionally taught in the language arts block, and at the same time integrates social development fundamental to the learning.

Firmly rooted in best practices, Collaborative Literacy reflects the following principles throughout:

Learners become independent readers, writers, and thinkers: Students are invited to take risks in their learning, building their confidence and ability to express their thinking.

Authentic reading and writing experiences: Students immediately apply what they are learning in whole-class instruction to their own reading and writing, reinforcing the new learning and showing students that what they are learning is relevant to their own lives.

Equitable access: Lessons are carefully structured with whole-class and partner discussions to ensure that all students have ample opportunity to articulate their thinking.

Professional learning: Lessons build teachers’ understanding of best practices in literacy instruction and give teachers the tools to transform classrooms.

Meaningful assessments: Formative and summative assessments support instructional decision making for the class and for individual students.

SEL with literacy instruction: Teachers foster fundamental shifts in the ways their students feel, speak, think, and learn, with the goal of enabling students to become independent learners.

Collaborative Literacy Modules

When taught together, the modules of Collaborative Literacy—Being a Reader (grades K–2), Making Meaning (grades 3–6), and Being a Writer (grades K–6)—form a comprehensive ELA curriculum. The modules can also be used individually to supplement existing literacy instruction. (For more information about SIPPS, Collaborative Classroom’s reading intervention program for students who are struggling with foundational skills, click here.)


Developing Independent Readers and Writers

Collaborative Literacy provides an instructional cycle that includes teacher-led, whole-class reading and writing instruction; differentiated small-group reading instruction; guided practice; and opportunities for students to independently practice and apply skills and strategies. This cycle allows teachers to gradually release the responsibility of learning to the students.

Every Student, Every Lesson

Collaborative Literacy instruction is designed so that every lesson is accessible to every student. All students participate in lessons regardless of their reading and writing abilities, and teachers are provided with support to meet a variety of needs. The lessons offer cooperative structures, partner work, and peer and teacher conferring, which enable students to contribute and receive feedback at their level. All students benefit from being part of the caring classroom community in which sharing, reflecting, and supporting one another as writers and readers is the norm.

Engaging Read-aloud Texts

Authentic children’s literature is at the heart of each Collaborative Literacy lesson. Multiple and varied authors’ voices bring the full range of human experience and knowledge into the classroom through rich, diverse fiction and nonfiction. Teachers use these texts to facilitate the exchange of student ideas. These conversations build community and spark curiosity and a desire to participate in the learning process that reaps benefits far beyond the immediate goals of learning to read and write.

Supporting Students’ Social and Emotional Development

Collaborative Literacy is unique in its focus on teaching the whole child by embedding practices that promote social and emotional learning in the instruction. Beginning with the first lessons, Collaborative Literacy helps teachers set up purposeful interactions among students, teaching them social and problem­‐solving skills, and helping them to integrate values like responsibility, respect, fairness, caring, and helpfulness into their lives.

21st Century Skills

Collaborative Literacy instruction provides students with experiences that allow them to think critically and creatively. Students are encouraged to read broadly and widely about topics that interest them. They engage in conversations with their peers and build on one another’s ideas. Throughout the day, students work cooperatively in pairs or small groups to discuss texts or words; they might also work collaboratively to research and write a report or analyze an excerpt from a text. In a collaborative classroom, students are encouraged to identify problems and solve them together.

Assessment That Informs Instruction

Collaborative Literacy assessments draw upon best practices in assessing reading and writing. Assessment tools are designed to help teachers make informed instructional decisions as they teach the lessons and track their students’ academic and social development over time.

Research-based and Standards-aligned

Our unique pedagogy has grown out of years of research on literacy development, best practices in literacy instruction, and child development. Visit our correlations site to search for correlations to the Common Core and other state standards.

Digital Resources

The Learning Portal houses the digital resources that accompany Collaborative Literacy. These resources enhance students’ learning experiences and help teachers streamline their preparation, instruction, and assessment processes.