Curriculum is project-based and responsive to student interests. When selecting texts, make sure that the texts are level-appropriate as well as responsive to students' interests. The report strongly suggests avoiding reading materials and activities that offer students "more of the same" reading instruction and points to the irony of using school-based models in after-school literacy programs when the school-based model is not working for students who need remediation.
Incorporating learning strategies as an integral part of homework help. Teach universal information processing (chunking, scaffolding, interacting, pacing, monitoring) and reading comprehension strategies that are interchangeable across assignments. Explain, model, guide, and then monitor student progress in using these new strategies.
Create special quiet corners for reading and "material literacy environment" that offers a variety of reading materials (including dictionaries, computers, internet, and other reference books students may not have at home).
One-on-one tutoring for struggling readers.
Elements of Effective Literacy Programs
The Carnegie Corporation's Reading Next: A Vision for Action and Research in Middle and High School Literacy report identifies 15 elements of effective adolescent literacy programs. How many of these best practices are evident in your programming? What can your program work on incorporating or strengthening? How do these best practices need to be adapted or adjusted for the after-school literacy environment?
Direct, explicit comprehension instruction, which is instruction in the strategies and processes that proficient readers use to understand what they read, including summarizing, keeping track of one’s own understanding, and a host of other practices.
Effective instructional principles embedded in content, including language arts teachers using content-area texts and content-area teachers providing instruction and practice in reading and writing skills specific to their subject area.
Motivation and self-directed learning, which includes building motivation to read and learn and providing students with the instruction and supports needed for independent learning tasks they will face after graduation