Making Meaning

What is Making Meaning?

Part of Collaborative Literacy, Making Meaning provides a full year of research-based, whole-class reading and vocabulary instruction for grades K–6. Reading lessons teach students comprehension and self-monitoring strategies that proficient readers use to make sense of text. Vocabulary lessons combine direct instruction in word meanings with engaging activities that teach high-­utility words found in the Making Meaning read-­aloud texts.

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.

Reading is an interactive process that involves thinking, questioning, discussing, rereading, and responding to texts. In Making Meaning lessons, carefully selected nonfiction and fiction read-aloud texts provide a platform for rich discussions as students encounter increasingly complex texts and build their vocabularies. Lessons intentionally integrate academics with social skill development, creating an environment in which students learn to collaborate, agree and disagree respectfully, and take responsibility for their own learning.

Supporting Every Reader

In Making Meaning lessons, comprehension strategies are taught directly through read-­aloud experiences. This ensures that students have equal opportunity to access the text regardless of their reading abilities. Then, through guided and independent strategy practice, students learn to use these strategies to make sense of their own reading. Lessons also include plenty of time for independent reading practice and individual conferences so that students of varying levels will be able to develop as readers at their own pace. In a world of sound bites expressed quickly in electronic formats, students benefit from having time to think about, hear, and share complete ideas.

Independent Practice and Conferring

At the heart of the Making Meaning lesson is Individualized Daily Reading (IDR) and conferring. IDR is a time when students self-select texts at their appropriate reading levels and read them independently. Students apply the skills learned during whole-class lessons, learn self-monitoring strategies they can use to check their comprehension, and discuss strategies they can apply when reading to “fix” comprehension problems.

During IDR, the teacher confers with individual students about their reading. Conferring allows teachers to assess each student’s comprehension and provides an opportunity to support struggling students, encourage students to read more complex texts, and identify areas of growth for each student. 

Explicit Vocabulary Instruction

Vocabulary lessons combine direct instruction in word meanings with engaging, interactive activities that teach high-­utility words found in the Making Meaning read-­aloud texts. Lessons also focus on developmentally appropriate word-learning strategies that students can use to unlock word meanings when reading independently.


Making Meaning assessment tools are designed to help teachers make informed instructional decisions as they teach the lessons and track their students’ reading and social development over time. Making Meaning assessments help teachers

  • recognize individual students’ strengths as well as areas for improvement
  • evaluate students’ reading comprehension, independent reading progress, and vocabulary acquisition
  • determine grading, when needed
  • prepare students for the reading comprehension portion of end-of-year standards-based reading assessments.

Research-based and Standards-aligned

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

Digital Resources

The CCC Learning Hub houses the digital resources that accompany Making Meaning. These resources enhance students’ learning experiences and help teachers streamline their preparation, instruction, and assessment processes.