TEACH: Can I see an example of some planning for a literacy activity?

TEACH (16)

Embedding reading comprehension strategies into a foundation hair and beauty class

Here’s a scenario and example of some planning for an activity that embeds a reading comprehension strategy into a foundation learning course in a hair and beauty context. First, read through the scenario, learning outcome, and resources. Then have a look at the activity planned at the end.

You teach a foundation learning course with a focus on hair and beauty. It’s a trades academy course at a local Polytech, but your students come from high schools around the region. You know from their Assessment Tool scores that some struggle with reading comprehension. So, you’ve decided to focus on some different strategies for strengthening this aspect of their literacy knowledge and abilities.

There are no workbooks for the taster course that you’re doing with your current class. However, you’ve been teaching this kind of content for several years. So you know where to find several readings for the course that provide the right information.

You’re happy with the texts because they contain most of the concepts and terminology that you need to teach. The texts are not too long or dense, but you think they also provide a great opportunity to shift the focus to strategies that your learners can use to improve not just their understanding of these texts, but how they approach other reading texts as well.

Learning outcome

Based on your mapping, diagnostic assessment and work with these learners you decided on the following as your intended learning outcome for your first attempt at teaching a reading comprehension strategy:

  • Use reading comprehension strategies in the context of an introduction to dermatology for hair and beauty professionals.

This focus on dermatology lines up with a new unit that you have to start teaching. There are several texts that your learners will need to read anyway in order to understand the basics and to prepare for the assessment.


You’ve decided to try teaching and practising a number of different reading comprehension strategies over this semester. But the first one that you want to try is related to activating prior knowledge.

You know that good readers use and apply the knowledge that they already have about the world, words and text to help them understand a new text.

Because it’s also the start of a new unit, you decide you’ll try out something you learned in a professional development class a few weeks ago called a KWL activity.

The activity helps learners:

  • Recall prior knowledge (K) of the topic.
  • Generate motivation by identifying what they want (W) to learn.
  • Identify relevant information and monitor what they have learned (L) through the process.


Here are the resources that you know you need:

  • Two texts introducing dermatology for hair and beauty professionals
  • Whiteboard and markers
  • KWL chart for each learner
K: What we know W: What we want to know L: What we learned





Here’s what your actual planning might look like for one activity. This is adapted from the guided teaching and learning sequence on page 47 of Teaching Adults to Read with Understanding: Using the Learning Progressions:


Activity 1: Intro to Dermatology – KWL Brainstorming Activity

  1. Draw a KWL chart on the whiteboard.
  2. Brainstorm what the learners know about dermatology and related topics, writing their ideas in the first column ( K ).
  3. Discuss what information they feel they need to know about the topic. Write these ideas in the second column ( W ) of the chart.
  4. Explain that, as they read the text, the learners will make notes about what they have learned in the third column ( L ).
  5. Give the learners individual copies of KWL charts for them to record their own ideas in the first two columns.
  6. The learners read the text and make notes in the third column (L) as they read.
  7. The learners share their notes with a partner or the whole group to finish.

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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