Have a question about Applied Literacy ?

Here's a good place to start.
If the info you need is not covered here, we'd be happy to help. Just contact us with your question.


A: Applied Literacy routines are designed for grades K-12. While some client schools use Applied Literacy routines only in the elementary grades or secondary grades, our longest-standing clients use the routines in all grades.

The main features of an Applied Literacy implementation are relevant for all levels of development and subject areas.

A: Applied Literacy routines provide a consistent approach to writing instruction for use throughout a school or district. They can provide a full-spectrum approach to core writing standards when no other writing models or tools are in place.

Many of our client schools with writing initiatives already in place use our routines to increase the impact of their current practices. Our clients depend on Applied Literacy to increase the retention of new knowledge in non-language arts classes.

In numerous schools we serve, Applied Literacy co-exists with most every other writing initiative available. It helps both teachers and students use their time more efficiently.

A: It is best to implement one routine at a time. We recommend that in the course of three years, you:

Year 1: Begin with Applied Grammar, our research-based approach to teaching grammar through writing.

Year 2: Move to Applied Vocabulary, our interactive journal routine that develops fluency in writing to learn core standards in any subject area.

Year 3: Conclude with Applied Reading and Writing, our simple scaffold of tools and strategies that teaches students the classic structures such as compare-contrast or character analysis to develop their mastery of extended writing tasks in all core genres.

We see our three routines as spinning three plates in a balancing act. Get one routine spinning continuously. Then start the second routine and then the third until all three routines continue to spin, their focus and power on improved critical thinking through writing.

A: Over the last 30+ years, we have seen highly effective implementations of our routines in grades K-12 simultaneously. Other equally effective implementations begin with grades K-2, 6-8, or 9-12 and expand to other grades. Where you implement our routines first does not seem to determine its potential success. The key to all successful implementations has been a school or district commitment to follow-through and support the teachers charged with putting our routines into practice.

Applied Literacy routines have a strong track record of changing a school or district’s writing culture. Permanent change happens when

  • An Applied Literacy trainer partners with building leaders onsite for several professional development events.

Changing a school’s writing culture requires a thoughtful, ongoing plan for supporting teachers.

Best completed by an Applied Literacy trainer

  1. Orienting all teachers to materials and routines
  2. Demonstrating Applied Literacy routines in classrooms while teachers observe
  3. Conducting micro-teaching modules that fine-tune teachers’ writing routines
  4. Training all teachers to score student writing in a reliable scoring session
  5. Analyzing student performances on state tests to plan a scope and sequence for writing for the following year.

Best completed by building leaders

  1. Coaching teachers as they demonstrate their writing routines
  2. Administrating mock writing tests in preparation for state testing
  3. Posting student exemplars and publishing final drafts
  4. Recording teachers’ use of the five key practices of writing-based learning
  5. Helping teachers create effective writing prompts for unit and lesson plans

A: Most schools follow a three-year implementation plan that includes onsite training and support for teachers. They purchase materials at the launch of each new routine. In subsequent years, they provide additional materials for new teachers and students. Student licenses for our electronic learning products are available in one to five-year increments.

A: Applied Literacy is proud of the wide range of schools that have succeeded with one or more of our three instructional routines.

  • Public schools
  • Private schools and academies
  • Charter schools

The schools we serve have a single trait in common: a strong, intentional commitment to systematic writing that prepares students for life-long learning.

A: Contact us and arrange a phone conference with one of our sales consultants. They will review your school’s needs and help you determine which of our routines best suits your current needs and resources.

A: We have three standalone instructional routines (short writing to learn, grammar instruction, and extended writing). Other programs focus only on extended writing. Our materials and strategies empower students to think critically and work independently throughout entire work sessions. Other programs rely on teachers to motivate their students to write.

We train teachers to:

  • Quantify what they expect of students before they write.
  • Model what they expect of students by writing with them.
  • Guide student choices by using specific strategies and advance organizers.

We guide students to:

  • Respond to the quality of each other’s writing by using  PALS (peer-assisted learning system) strategies every time they write.
  • Self-assess the degree to which their writing meets their teachers expectations using a simple rubric.

Few other programs spell out these five key practices this intentionally.

Unlike other writing programs, Applied Literacy takes Donald Graves admonition to “Take Energy from Assessment” seriously in developing our model for writing-based learning. Each of our instructional tools, strategies, and routines are specifically designed to empower student writers and their designated PALS to demonstrate mastery of core standards. As students direct and assess their own learning, they prepare themselves to do their best on all tests of knowledge and written expression.

Our classroom action research shows how it is possible to prepare students for battery of annual tests and to insure students later success in college and careers.