Adolescent Literacy Model (ALM)

Introduction to the Adolescent Literacy Model (ALM)

CTL has developed and tested its Adolescent Literacy Model (ALM) over the past decade, through multiple research projects, including Striving Readers and the KDE Literacy Initiative Grant, as well as implementation in individual schools. The purpose of the ALM is to develop a collaborative professional learning environment, in which educators perpetually enhance their ability to design instruction that leverages the various facets of literacy in service of their discipline specific objectives. By developing these skills across professional learning teams, schools create a learning environment in which students develop and take advantage of literacy in every classroom, every day. The results of this work include 1) improved literacy outcomes for students, 2) increased teacher efficacy in designing literacy-infused instruction in any discipline, and 3) more efficient mastery of content as student’s reading, writing, listening, and speaking strategies and skills are enhanced.

Implementation of the model involves a commitment to intensive professional learning, rooted in job-embedded coaching, with regular on-site and distance engagement of teachers and administrators.

  • Foundational training provided via a 3-day Summer Institute
  • Customized follow-up training throughout the school year covering a range of essential topics which could include: lesson plan refinement protocol for balanced literacy integration, designing instruction within the learning cycle, analysis of student work protocol, comprehensive literacy calibration, and others
  • Capacity-building instructional coaching for teachers as they design, implement, and refine their comprehensive literacy practices
  • Job-embedded coaching for school leaders as they develop their capacity to lead and support teachers in comprehensive literacy instructional design
  • Establishment of a literacy leadership team, consisting of teachers, support staff, and administration, to ensure sustainability of professional learning and practice outside the life of the grant
  • Resources, protocols, and tools for school self-assessment and improvement in implementation of comprehensive literacy instructional practices

CTL’s Adolescent Literacy Model is a school-wide, comprehensive professional learning model for middle and high schools. It provides training, coaching, strategies, tools, and processes to address the overall and specific literacy needs in schools today. The ALM enhances instruction in and across all disciplines, embracing the idea that literacy is the way we learn and therefore should be leveraged and supported in all classrooms. It has been developed over a period of fifteen years and tested through external research projects where it has been shown to have positive impact on teacher practice, teacher and student self-efficacy, and student performance in reading in grades 6 and 9, as well as an increase in student motivation and grades in other content areas.

 The ALM is designed for customized implementation. Specific components of the model are combined to address the targeted needs of the school and/or teacher, determined by a self assessment process using the ALM School Performance Guide, Classroom Observation Tool, and others. The overall goal is to support comprehensive literacy instruction where students are successful in all content areas, by applying familiar literacy strategies as they master new content objectives.

 Specifically, the ALM advances:

  • Tier 1 Instruction aligned with Kentucky Academic Standards and based in content literacy, where literacy strategies are applied in all subject areas to increase student engagement and deepen learning
  • Access to content learning for all learners through the regular use of content literacy
  • Strategies which take advantage of the various facets of literacy: Vocabulary Development, Reading Comprehension, Writing to Learn, Academic Dialogue, and Writing to Demonstrate
  • Teacher as instructional-designer, selectively integrating curriculum resources and technology, to enhance student opportunities to process and express content learning individually and collaboratively
  • Leadership development, including training and support for principals and the creation of a literacy leadership team to encourage, support, and monitor progress
  • A school instructional culture of high achievement through literacy development based in an environment of continuous improvement and growth-mindset

Professional Learning

CTL’s expertise in professional learning translates easily into the school wide ALM. A multiyear effort, the model engages teachers and school leaders in deep and significant training on content literacy best practices  applied to any subject area, and on discipline-specific training and collaboration. The latter answers for  teachers and principals the question: How does student literacy development better prepare students to master content in MY discipline? 

In addition, the model provides a range of tools and processes to augment formal training and informal, job- embedded, professional coaching. Tools and processes include: a school performance guide that enables schools to self-assess their current status on the six research-based components of the ALM, a classroom observation tool for assessing fidelity of implementation, a sorting protocol for examining student work, and, a set of published guidebooks to support teachers and principals in implementing the model.

The model includes:

  • Foundational training provided via a 3-day summer institute
  • Capacity building throughout the year via job-embedded coaching (modeling, co-teaching, pre/mid/post-observation, co-planning, etc.)
  • Continuing trainings that are teacher-driven and promote reflection, planning, and fidelity of implementation
  • Consultation with content resources throughout the year via distance and face-to-face to support extension activities
  • Literacy leadership team development, consisting of teachers, support staff, and administration, to ensure sustainability of professional learning and practices outside the life of the grant
  • Where applicable, CTL offers job-embedded coaching for school and district literacy coaches as they develop their capacity to lead and support teachers in the program’s design

All of CTL’s professional learning models meet the Learning Forward Professional Learning Standards for effective student learning.

Personalized Professional Coaching

While ALM brings educators together to regularly engage in collaborative professional learning, the program honors the individual needs of participating practitioners. CTL coaching provides a space for assessment, reflection, and refinement that is educator-driven, and proven to enhance engagement, motivation and instructional practices. Whether virtually or in-person, CTL staff engage in side-by-side instructional planning, pre/mid/post observation & reflection cycles, analysis of student work protocols, and other timely and relevant coaching experiences with teachers. Additionally, CTL staff coaches school-based Instructional Coaches and Administrators for successful implementation of the ALM long-term through a variety of collaborative experiences: classroom calibration visits, reflection and planning conversations based in Cognitive Coaching, co-designing and co-implementing professional learning, and more. With a focus on building educator capacity, CTL’s personalized professional coaching helps to create a school-wide culture of continuous improvement, which pays dividends both in the classroom and in professional learning communities.

Leadership Capacity Building

CTL staff works closely with middle and high school faculties in implementing the model. Summer Institutes, half day training sessions throughout the year, on-site and distance coaching, and leadership seminars all support efforts to develop professional practices leading to increased student literacy skills. Initially, CTL staff works closely with teachers while they develop the capacity of the school-based literacy leadership team, school-based instructional coaches and the administration, to assume responsibility for improved instruction. Over time, CTL staff applies a gradual release approach, to support literacy leadership team members, coaches and principals more directly as they assume greater responsibility for the ongoing success of the ALM.