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Language Arts

Program Overview      Core Values      Curriculum      Research & Results      Purchase Materials

Talent Development Secondary’s English Language Arts program encompasses a variety of instructional techniques and strategies for teaching reading and writing to adolescents ranging from grades 6 to 12. The instructional frameworks and approaches incorporated in the program better equip English teachers to deliver core curriculum and/or meet the challenges of struggling readers and writers.

By design, TDS’s literacy program re-conceptualizes students’ daily literacy experiences at the secondary classroom level and supports cohorts of students exhibiting a broad range of abilities and skill sets.

Program Overview

Talent Development Secondary’s Literacy Initiative is a comprehensive approach to instruction, providing a variety of programs so students can build and apply a range of prior knowledge, strategies, and skill.  Working collaboratively, students are encouraged to think creatively and critically in response to specific academic tasks.  Teachers consistently engage students to cooperative learning to comprehend and respond to rich literature and informational texts with increasing demands.

  • More complex word and sentence structure
  • Greater conceptual challenges and
  • Need for critical thinking and synthesis

Essential to TDS’s English Language Arts core component are collaborative and social learning skills. Students are given opportunities to work in teams to master the literacy challenges that 6th- to 12th-grade learners face, as compared to those in earlier grades. Talent Development teachers also provide students with ongoing support allowing them to take charge of their learning while managing the challenges that prepare them to move beyond high school.

Teachers understand that formative assessment is critical to monitoring student progress and targeting extra help when needed. Effective use of data is key for informing instructional practices and helping students advance their ability to become more independent readers, writers, and thinkers. As facilitators of learning, TDS’s English & Language Arts teachers work to increase students’ literacy skills to impact their ability to meet the accelerating demands of the global economy, to get well-paying jobs and to function as informed citizens.


Our Core Values

dsc_6010We believe that talented, competent, caring teachers who are willing to participate in continuous professional development can promote student success when supported by a research-based literacy intervention.

Secondary students are expected to learn new words, new facts, and new ideas from reading — in all their subject areas —  as well as to interpret, critique, and summarize the texts they read.

As students progress through school, literacy demands change:

  • Texts become longer
  • Word complexity increases
  • Sentence complexity changes
  • Graphic representations become more important
  • Conceptual challenge increases
  • Texts begin to vary widely across content areas

Adolescents — even those who have already “learned how to read” – need systematic support to learn how to “read to learn” across a wide variety of contexts and content.

Talent Development Secondary’s Literacy Initiative rises to this challenge by helping adolescents meet the demands by experiencing a continuum of literary processes. Our Literacy Initiative addresses the following areas:

  • Student motivation
  • Literate environment
  • Teacher expectations
  • Instruction with guided practice and immediate feedback
  • Student engagement
  • Teacher modeling
  • Cooperative learning teams and text-based discussions
  • Ongoing formative and summative assessment



Talent Development Secondary’s curriculum and resources not only support the developmental needs of middle and high school students, but also support teachers by delivering highly engaging, non-traditional literacy lessons.

Middle Grades

Talent Development Secondary’s middle grades English language arts (ELA) program includes:

  • Student Team Literature a research-based, thoroughly tested and highly effective cooperative learning approach to using TDS’s Student Discussion Guides. Teachers select titles from more than 100 high-quality, high-interest, culturally relevant trade books for which TDS Student Discussion Guides are available. Student Team Literature helps students progress beyond elementary literacy by developing proficient reading, writing, communication, and language skills by teaching effective reading strategies, extending comprehension skills, and developing fluency in reading and writing. Ongoing assessment is provided through weekly literature and vocabulary tests as well as Standardized Reading Practice Tests administered after the completion of each book. Read more…

  • Savvy Reader’s Lab is for students whose skills are significantly below grade level. This 10 – 20 elective course weeks provide students a substantial “extra dose” of intensive, personalized instruction in addition to their regular ELA class. Savvy Readers’ Lab helps struggling students become independent readers through instruction in strategic reading, practice of reading strategies, rotating learning centers, and in-class supports and coaching for the lab teacher. Read more…
  • Talent Development Writing, a professional development module that builds teachers’ capacity to deliver effective, engaging writing instruction at every level.


High School

Talent Development Secondary’s high school model includes:

  • Intensive double-dose courses designed to build literacy skills for students who are two or more years below grade level to close skills gaps and prepare them for the challenging, standards-based curriculum required of all students.
  • Students can enroll in TDS double-dose literacy courses during the first semester and complete the district’s required, standards-based English course during the second semester.

Talent Development Secondary’s high school curriculum includes:

  • Accelerating Literacy for Adolescents (ALFA Lab)  Students who enter the ninth grade four or more years below grade level can enroll in the ALFA (Accelerated Literacy for Adolescents) Lab, an intensive triple-dose course. A teacher and lab assistant work with a maximum of 20 students per class. Each student is assigned to a team of peers with similar strengths and weaknesses in reading. Read more…
  • Strategic Reading is a non-traditional approach to accelerating fluency and comprehension skills for ninth-grade students who enter high school inadequately prepared in literacy. Read more…
  • Reading and Writing in Your Career is a 10th-grade course that continues to build the literacy skills needed to tackle challenging texts. Students interact in discussion groups around texts organized by themes such as Who Am I? Where Am I Going? and How Will I Get There? Read more…
  • College Prep Reading and Writing supports 11th graders with the necessary literacy skills needed for college and post-high school careers and helps students meet the challenges of state assessments and begin planning for post-secondary options.

Standards-based, required English curriculum in the second semester across all grades is further supported through Student Team Literature and Talent Development Writing.



TDS’s Literacy Initiative Makes a Difference

Recent research evidence has shown that reading achievement gains are significantly larger for ninth-grade students whose teachers make more frequent and stronger use of the instructional practices recommended in the Strategic Reading program of Talent Development Secondary’s Literacy Initiative.

The results come from a large, three-year study that included 64 high schools in urban, suburban, and rural locations, involving 130 ninth-grade teachers and 3,236 ninth-grade students.

Figure 1 (above) shows that students’ one-year reading achievement gains are significantly greater when their teachers are high on a scale of implementing instructional practices recommended by the Talent Development model, compared to other classes with less frequent and weaker use of the approaches. In the figure, the “low” category includes all teachers’ classes below average on the implementation scale, while the “high” category is average or above. The difference between the categories is about five months of additional gain over the year.

Figure 2 (above) compares three different conditions of teacher support on the implementation of the recommended literacy instructional approaches by ninth-grade teachers, to show that coaching has the strongest benefits.

Adolescent Literacy Initiative Study

As the Adolescent Literacy Initiative Study, conducted at Johns Hopkins University, reflects, Strategic Reading yields significant impact on student achievement. When recommended & research-based approaches are used by SR teachers, student achievement is significantly impacted:

    • Teacher modeling of comprehension skills and strategies and interpretation of author’s use of literary devices
    • Background and vocabulary preparation for reading and writing
    • Self-selected reading
    • Regular opportunity for student application of strategies and skills
    • Ongoing guided reading experiences allowing students to read for a variety of purposes
    • Student team discussion of shared reading


Purchasing Materials

Material pricing and ordering information for all teacher and student materials is available online. If you have purchased materials from Talent Development Secondary in the past and have a user name and password, simply visit our Online Storefront and login. If you have not purchased materials before, please set up a Storefront Membership.