Talk Read Talk Write

Resources for Structured Reading & Writing in Any Classroom

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The Process

Below is a chart that shows both how the students experience the process and how the teacher plans the process. As you plan, consider not only the steps of Talk, Read, Talk, Write, but also the small linguistic accommodations you might make along the way. Please note that this Smore is arranged by how the teacher plans TRTW, not how the student experiences it.
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Getting Started: Making Reading Accessible

For TRTW to work for you in the classroom, the first priority is to make the academic reading accessible to all students. There are a variety of ways to make reading accessible that fall into two general categories: offering leveled texts or scaffolding a single text.

Tiered/Leveled/Adapted Text

  • Best place to start? Lexile levels. At middle school, students should have already BOY tested on iStation. Ask your ELA teachers for your students' Lexile Levels.
  • Fully differentiated for all kids, below level, on level, and above level (don't forget your GT kids!)
  • YES! You can give different kids different text. Each student will be given text that provides maximum access to the content at his or her level.
  • Students should be working toward reading independently.
  • (TRTW p. 83).

Below are links to sites with leveled news articles and a way to adapt text yourself!

Multi-level Databases

Through our libraries, the district has provided access to databases that contain thousands of articles, images, video, audio, and more to help students interact with content. Below are screencasts on how to access those databases.

Scaffolded Text

Should you wish to use the same text for the whole class, you can scaffold the text in many ways, including:

  • Chunking
  • Cognates
  • Pre-highlighting (if you are not using Highlighting Plus)
  • Starred Main Idea
  • Word Bank/Glossary
  • Provide or point students to visuals in the text or classroom.


  • Remind students that headings naturally break up and organize text.
  • If there are no headings, break text up into logical segments by drawing a horizontal line across the text.
  • Assign fewer or smaller chunks for students who need significantly more time to read.


Cognates are words that are similar between two languages. In Spanish, for example, 30-40% of words have some crossover into English. As students get older, they will encounter significantly more cognates in science, math, and social studies because so much of our academic language comes from the common Greek and Latin roots.

Encourage students to look and listen for cognates in their reading and speaking and make connections between the English and Spanish terms. Several resources are available for you below to help identify cognates.

The cognate highlighter (Cognate Linguistics link) will identify cognates in a section of text - just cut and paste!!

Pre-Highlight or Star Key Ideas

Struggling readers often panic when faced with lots of dense text. You can help them to focus in on text by using the TRTW Reading Strategies (P-A-T List, Annotate, and Highlighter Plus), but you may also want to help students find what they need to find by pre-highlighting, starring, or both.

Word Banks or Glossaries

Much academic text is filled with new vocabulary. While you will likely pre-teach key terms for the content of your reading, you might also have some incidental or "mortar" words that could trip up students. You can prevent this by:

  • Providing a glossary on the text itself or on the board.
  • Posting a word bank on the board.
  • Directing students to vocabulary help within the text (if available).
  • Encouraging students to use dictionaries or devices.

Science Example

Below is an example of a slightly-above 8th grade level text. This might be perfectly appropriate to provide to a Pre-AP class, assuming all of the students are reading at or above level, but you have to know your kids. This is a very dense text that is rich with academic language; so, if your struggling readers or ELL students need access to this content, it will have to be scaffolded significantly.

  • Pre-teach key vocabulary.
  • Spanish cognates are circled, encouraging language transfer.
  • Several sections are starred and pre-highlighted.
  • Two key words are provided in a glossary below.

Alternatives Based on ELL Proficiency Levels:

  • This would not be an appropriate text for beginners.
  • Intermediate students might read only the two highlighted sentences and focus on the cognates to help make meaning. Encourage the use of a dictionary or device. Provide a brief summary prior to reading.
  • Encourage advanced students to focus on key information (PAT list) and support vocabulary development with pre-teaching.
  • Linguistic support as needed.
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Students engage in meaningful conversations about the reading using Envelope, Please (TRTW p. 51) or Check-In Conversation (TRTW p. 53).

Student supports include:

  • Allow extra think/practice time.
  • Provide sentence stems (What I thought was important was…, What I learned was…, etc.)
  • Ban the use of "it" and "they". Students should use the academic language of the text to form their responses.


Students write critically and purposefully about the reading using either a Clear Explanation (p. 64) or Making a Claim (p.67) format. Student supports include:

  • Model and think aloud your own writing.
  • Show completed examples and non-examples
  • Provide essay structure support (kernel essay, SIM Paragraph Diagram or other graphic organizer) and sentence stems. SIM Frames and Content Mastery devices might also be helpful here.
  • Keep in mind that students should be developing their content writing skills. It will also help them prepare for TELPAS. Don't always stop at an organizer.
  • TRTW Ch. 5

WMS 8th Grade

Eighth graders at WMS will be using the APE format in all classes except for math (First, Next, Then, Finally).

Below is a great starter chart to help kids with getting started.


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Students engage in a meaningful conversations that preview the reading topic using Provocative Question (TRTW p. 24), Make a Choice (TRTW p. 27), or Respond to a Visual (TRTW p. 29). Student supports include:

  • Pre-teach vocabulary and/or common phrases.
  • Model pronunciation of new terms for use in Talk 2.
  • Allow extra think/practice time for responses.
  • Provide sentence stems (I would choose…, This looks like …, etc.).

Differentiation Resources

Below are some great resources for differentiation, including another Smore by Melissa Wabnitz of the HaysCISD Bilingual/ESL Department.

Using Talk Read Talk Write?

Let us know! We'd love to post pictures of what you're doing! Share the love!

Halley Ortiz

Sheltered Instruction/ESL Instructional Coach

(512) 268-2891, x.8236