Skip to main content Skip to main content

Private: Teaching Reading: 3-5 Workshop

Teaching Diverse Learners

In this session, literacy expert Dorothy Strickland discusses how teachers can meet the diverse needs of readers and writers in their classrooms. Classroom examples and teaching strategies address different aspects of diversity, including culture, language, background, ability, and learning approaches.

One challenge teachers face is how to work with a broad range of cultural, linguistic, and intellectual differences among their students. How can teachers address the varied needs of all their students? What must teachers consider when planning and implementing literacy instruction? In this session, literacy expert Dorothy Strickland discusses key elements of effective instruction that build on student diversity and promote effective learning. You will learn strategies for differentiating instruction to maximize learning for all of your students.


Learning Goals

At the end of this session, you will better understand how to:

  • use students’ background knowledge and experiences as a springboard for literacy instruction
  • provide opportunities for student choice within the grade-level curriculum
  • support student learning through scaffolded instruction
  • plan instruction and group students flexibly to address their individual strengths and needs

“When we talk about diversity, we’re usually talking about cultural and linguistic diversity. But children are also diverse learners in terms of their abilities, interests, background knowledge, and the way they approach learning. All of these contribute to who a child is and how that child will learn.”

Dorothy Strickland
Professor of Reading
Rutgers University

Meet the Expert

Dorothy Strickland is a former classroom teacher, reading consultant, and learning disabilities specialist. She holds the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Chair in Education at Rutgers University, and she formerly taught at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Professor Strickland is also past president of the International Reading Association and its Reading Hall of Fame. She has received the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Award and was recognized in 1994 as the NCTE Outstanding Woman in the Teaching of English. She has numerous publications in the field of reading and language arts. Her latest scholarly contributions are Teaching Phonics Today, Beginning Reading and Writing, and Supporting Struggling Readers and Writers.


If you are taking this workshop for credit or professional development, submit the following assignments for Session 7: Teaching Diverse Learners.

1. Examine the Literature

In this assignment, you will read two articles on diverse learners and complete the Examine the Literature Response Chart.

back to section

2. Modeling Main-Idea Questioning

In this activity, teachers will model and provide scaffolding as their students develop main-idea questions.

back to section

3. Scaffolding Instruction

In this activity, you will consider and plan appropriate scaffolding for students when teaching a whole-class book or other text. Complete the Lesson Plan Chart to document the strategies you plan to use.

back to section

4. What Did You Learn?

In this activity, you will write a summary of the ideas and strategies you explored in this session.

back to section

5. Create a Literacy Practices Portfolio

In this activity, you will continue to build your portfolio of instructional practices.

Related Resources

Print Resources

Allington, R. L. What Really Matters for Struggling Readers. New York: Longman, 2001.

Gay, G. Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice. New York: Teachers College Press, 2000.

Lee, C. D. “Bridging Home and School Literacies: A Model of Culturally Responsive Teaching.” In A Handbook for Literacy Educators: Research on Teaching the Communicative and Visual Arts, edited by N. J. Flood, S. B. Heath, and D. Lapp, 330-341. New York: Macmillan, 1997.

Nieto, S. Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education. 3d ed. White Plains, NY: Longman, 2000.

Strickland, D. S., K. Ganske, and J. K. Monroe. Supporting Struggling Readers and Writers: Strategies for Classroom Intervention 3-6. Portland, ME: Stenhouse, and Newark, DE: International Reading Association, 2002.

Villegas, A. M., and T. Lucas. “Preparing Culturally Responsive Teachers: Rethinking the Curriculum.” Journal of Teacher Education 53 (2002): 20-32.

Walker, B. J. “Thinking Aloud: Struggling Readers Often Require More Than a Model.” The Reading Teacher 58, no. 3 ( 2005): 688-692.

Weinstein, C., M. Curran, and S. Tomlinson-Clarke. “Culturally Responsive Classroom Management: Awareness into Action.” Theory into Practice 42 (2003): 269-276.

Web Resources

Differentiated Strategies and Games
This site provides strategies and games for students at each level of literacy development.

Folk and Fairy Tales from Around the World
This award-winning site includes the text of folk and fairy tales from around the world, as well as links to other folk and fairy tale sites.

Multicultural Literature
This site provides annotated bibliographies of children’s literature from many cultures, with links to many resources from the cultures represented on this site.

Recommended Books
This site, from California State University at San Marcos, can be accessed in English or in Spanish. It provides a list of recommended books for children and adolescents.

Series Directory

Private: Teaching Reading: 3-5 Workshop


Produced by WGBH Educational Foundation. 2006.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-815-7