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ACLT 052: Integrating Reading, Writing, and Thinking for Student Success. The Community College of Baltimore County. Presenters. Professor Ryan Donnelly, English Faculty Professor Haleh Harris, Reading Faculty Professor Sharon Hayes, Reading Faculty and Reading Coordinator.

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aclt 052 integrating reading writing and thinking for student success

ACLT 052: Integrating Reading, Writing, and Thinking for Student Success

The Community College of Baltimore County


Professor Ryan Donnelly, English Faculty

Professor Haleh Harris, Reading Faculty

Professor Sharon Hayes, Reading Faculty and Reading Coordinator

workshop overview
Workshop Overview

Introduction to ACLT 052

Skill-embedded Curriculum

Thinking-focused Pedagogy

Growth-centered Assessment

Group Activity and Gallery Walk

Discussion and Questions

got questions
Got Questions?

Well, we have answers!

As questions arise, please make note of them on your index card.

We will answer 2-3 pertinent questions after each segment.

We have allotted plenty of time for discussion and questions at the end of the workshop.

developmental reading and english at ccbc
Developmental Reading and English at CCBC

Reading 051 –5 hours (36-60)

Reading 052—4 hours (61-78)

English 051—4 hours (up to 57)

English 052—3 hours (58-89)

Reading 052/English 101 Learning Community—8 hours

English 052/101 Accelerated Course—6 hours

why rethink developmental reading
Why Rethink Developmental Reading?

Successful accelerated courses in developmental English and math

Persistence issues—compounded by multi-level sequence

Problems with placement testing

Affective issues and changing student population

Lack of skill transfer from developmental reading to credit courses

The Completion Agenda, Common Core, PARCC

Changes in federal aid guidelines

what is aclt 052
What is ACLT 052?
  • 5-credit integrated Reading and English course focused on critical thinking
  • Students with the following placements are eligible to enroll in ACLT 052:

ENGL 051 and RDNG 051 ENGL 051 and RDNG 052

ENGL 052 and RDNG 051 ENGL 052 and RDNG 052

  • Successful students move directly to credit courses with developmental reading and English pre-requisites
benefits of aclt 052
Benefits of ACLT 052
  • Authentic college-level experience
  • Multiple low-risk opportunities for students to discuss, think, and write
  • Increases students' familiarity with academic culture by attending to the affective domain
  • Eliminates exit points and shortens pipeline for students
  • Lowers cost of developmental coursework for students
  • Capitalizes on the heterogeneous class environment and eliminates the mental classifications of 051 and 052
guiding principles curriculum
Guiding Principles: Curriculum
  • Not based on the outcomes for the existing courses
  • College-level tasks with an emphasis on English 101 and other 100-level credit courses
  • Students “practice college” instead of working on pre-college skills
  • Whole, complex reading instead of paragraphs
  • Address affective issues through course assignments and activities
  • Not a literature course
major assignments
Major Assignments

4 Essays (including a research project)

Weekly discussion board posts

1 Educational autobiography

1 Presentation

1 Final Portfolio

embedded course reading writing and thinking skills
Embedded Course Reading, Writing and Thinking Skills
  • Academic literacy and academic discourse
  • The reading-writing process
  • Critical reading, writing, and thinking
  • Reader response
  • Using source materials
  • Writing and evaluating arguments
  • Grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage
  • Audience awareness
  • Essay organization and development
unit format
Unit Format

Themes and Texts

Reading/Writing Skills Mini-Lessons

Pre-reading/Pre-writing Activities

Independent Reading w/ Guide Questions

In-class, Post-reading Activities

Unit Exam (In-class Writing Assignment)


typical class
Typical Class

Quiz on homework

Small group comprehension-based activity

Quick-write on theme-related critical thinking question

Mini lesson on a timely reading/writing skill

Exam preparation— “Speed Dating”

Essay planning and drafting

Peer editing

Instructor-student conferencing

Everyday is different—“No Autopilot”

  • Central Text: Reading Pop Culture
    • Consumption
    • Advertising
    • Identity
    • Technology
    • Television
    • Movies
    • New media 
  • Supplemental readings:
    • College-wide text
    • Newspaper and magazine articles
    • Scholarly journal articles
    • Peer writing
  • Videos:
    • Documentary clips
    • Commercials
    • News clips
    • Debates
    • The Daily Show and/or The Colbert Report
analysis of our class system financial literacy
Analysis of our Class System: Financial Literacy

Essential Questions:

  • Is American poverty portrayed in an accurate manner within popularized exposures to media outlets (news, articles…)?
  • Do you think it is dangerous to label people in our society, or do you think labels are an essential part of the world in which we live?
  • Do you think that the “working poor” are particularly susceptible to abuse by public service providers, financial service providers, con artists, and even employers, as Shipler has indicated? 

Reading/Writing Skills:

  • Academic Habits of Mind
  • The Reading-Writing Process

Essential Questions—provide the larger context for critical thinking and discussion

Embedded Skills—introduce students to the “academic state of mind” and basics of academic reading and writing

analysis of our class system financial literacy1
Analysis of our Class System: Financial Literacy


  • “Media Images of the Poor” (Bullock, Wyche, & Williams)
  • The Working Poor: Invisible in America (Shipler)
  • “Why It’s Dangerous to Label People” (Adam Alter)
  • “Selling Minnesota” (Ehrenreich)
  • “Behind the Counter” (Schlosser)

Affective Issues—address student barriers - provide space to analyze financial experiences and provide an opportunity to create a new “narrative” by challenging students thinking

College-level Texts—examine various educational narratives as a springboard for self-examination

analysis of our class system financial literacy2
Analysis of our Class System: Financial Literacy

Critical Reading:

Socratic Seminar dialogue

Peripatetic Walks

Discussion Board primary and secondary posts

Peer editing workshops

Analyzing political cartoons and other images


Socratic Seminar writing

Peer editing workshops


Discussion Board primary and secondary posts

Peer editing workshops

analysis of our class system financial literacy3
Analysis of our Class System: Financial Literacy

Unit Essay—focus on “big ideas” and critical thinking

Some individuals believe that the American Dream cannot be achieved by all people. Those who believe this say that our culture contains too many roadblocks and obstacles, such as prejudice, poverty, and social inequality. Others believe that America is the “land of opportunity” and that if you dream it, you can achieve it. They cite the various “rags to riches” stories in our society, as well as the numerous individuals who have stumbled upon success or have worked hard to rise to the top.

 In your essay, take a position on this prompt. You may write about either one of the two points of view given, or you may present a different point of view. Use specific reasons and examples to support your position. Make sure to support your points with at least 3 in-text citations. A Works Cited Page must also be turned in.

analysis of our class system financial literacy4
Analysis of our Class System: Financial Literacy

Essential Questions—provide the larger context for critical thinking and discussion

Embedded Skills—introduce students to the “academic state of mind” and basics of academic reading and writing

Affective Issues—address lack of “student posture”, provide space to interrogate previous educational experiences, and provide an opportunity to create a new “narrative”

College-level Texts—examine various educational narratives as a springboard for self-examination

Exam and Essay—focus on “big ideas” and critical thinking

guiding principles pedagogy
Guiding Principles: Pedagogy
  •  Turn our assumptions on their head or “before they can do this, they have to do this.” Start with the real academic tasks right away—not baby steps
  • Use a thematic approach
  • Use active learning techniques
  • Use triage to deal with student areas that need support rather than lowering the entire curriculum to sub-skills—“just in time remediation”
  • Have a “growth mindset” towards students and their progress
  • Help grow student sense of responsibility
the syllabus
The Syllabus

Scavenger Hunt


What happens if you and your friend “share” the answers to a homework assignment?

Your friend, Mario, asks to see your homework. He tells you that his mother was sick and he had to take her to the hospital and couldn’t do it. He promises that he’ll only ask to copy this one time if you would just help him out now. How do you respond to his request?

the integration
The Integration



  • Discussion of fast food and obesity
  • Read “Weight of Blame”
  • Identify the main idea and supporting details
    • Intervention:
      • Use of quotation marks?
      • Who is the author? Publication? Audience?
  • Revise main idea and supporting details

Entry 1: Free write: “fast food and obesity”


Entry 2: If you were the editor of Restaurants and Institutions, what point would you make about eating out and obesity?


Read “Weight of Blame”

Entry 3: What was the author’s point and why do you think that?

Discussion (agreement or discrepancy between entries 2 and 3)

Small group/pairs: analyze the major point in ¶6.

Entry 4: Analyze ¶7 or ¶8.

Entry 5: What is your “take away” from this reading experience?

the so w hat factor
The “So What?” Factor

Guide Questions

Critical Thought Questions

How did Douglas’ mistress change? 

 What role did bread play in Douglas’ reading instruction?

How did the understanding of the term abolition change Douglas?

Why did Douglas begin to envy his fellow slaves?

How did Douglas use deception to learn to write?

  • Why would slave owners want to ensure that their slaves were kept illiterate?
  • Explain how the ‘bread’ could be symbolically significant to Douglas.
  • Why did Douglas “[come] to feel that learning to read had become a curse rather than a blessing”?
  • Who might have been the audience for Douglass’ work?
  • What similarities exist between Douglas’ experience and that of Malcolm X or Sherman Alexie?

Choose one concept from Paolo Freire’s “The Banking Concept of Education” and relate it to one of the other assigned reading selections. Ideas could include: banking education, problem posing education, liberatory education, humanization, consciousness.

  • In “The Banking Concept of Education,” Paolo Freire favored the problem-posing method of education. This meant the students needed to be a part of what they are learning. It also relates to the world around them. People need to be a part of the world and not just in the world. This is also something that Frederick Douglas realized. He was just another slave, but then he educated himself. He knew he had to do something with his knowledge so when he learned the word “abolish” and he became an abolitionist and a key person in the freedom of slaves. Everyone needs to learn to be a part of their surroundings and not just in them.
writing an essay conclusion
Writing an Essay Conclusion

Deductive Instruction

Inductive Instruction

Discuss the purpose and characteristics of a good conclusion.

Provide a handout with strategies for writing a good conclusion.

Instruct students to use one of the strategies.

View the last scene of The Sopranos.

View the last scene of The Wire.

In groups, decide what makes a good conclusion.

As a class, compose a list of characteristics for essay conclusions.

formative assessment
Formative Assessment

Emphasis on Instruction

Emphasis on Responsibility

How do you feel about your progress in this class?

What, if anything, do you need more help in understanding?

What can the teacher do to help you?

Why do you like or dislike your test/essay grade?

What did you do/not do to get that grade?

What should you do differently for the next test/essay?

How can the teacher help you?

guiding principles assessment
Guiding Principles: Assessment
  • Holistic approach to assessing student work—look at content as well as grammar
  • Progressive approach to grading: tolerance for less than perfect work early in the semester
  • Provide a lot of “low-risk” opportunities to talk, think, and write before graded, higher-stakes assignments
  • Embrace 3 Goals:
    • Independently read and understand complex academic texts
    • Critically respond to the ideas and information in those texts
    • Write essays integrating ideas and information from those texts
assessment structure
Assessment Structure
  • Three stages
    • Pre-reading
    • Reading
    • Post-reading
pre reading
  • Goal: Tap into existing knowledge
    • Free-write
    • Watch video
    • Class discussion
    • Key concepts and terms
pre reading1
  • Example: Prep for a reading on importance of biodiversity
    • Free-write and discussion
      • What is a food web? Why is it important to understand?
      • During discussion:
        • How do food webs work?
        • What is extinction and why is it a problem?
        • What would happen if a disease killed all the spiders in the world?
pre reading2
  • Lecture:
    • Reinforce concept of systems and how they function.
    • Reinforce “relationships” of organisms to each other.
    • Introduce “biodiversity” as a term.
  • Goal: Guide students to facilitate comprehension.
    • Annotations
    • Guiding questions
    • Dual-entry journals
    • Written responses
  • Article: “Will we soon be extinct?” by Josh Clark.
    • Annotations
    • Guiding Questions:
      • Why is nitrogen important to humans?
      • How do worms keep up us alive?
      • What will happen if species continue to die?
      • How much biodiversity is in your neighborhood? Count as many different kinds of life as you can (think about large animals like humans, about small ones like insects, and about bacteria, mold, and fungus as well.)
post reading
  • Goal: Assess comprehension and engage with concepts.
    • Quizzes
    • Response papers
    • Discussion
    • Group activity
    • Further research
post reading1
  • Short Quiz:
    • How do many advances in technology depend on nature?
  • Discussion:
    • Why is biodiversity important?
    • What places might have high and low levels of biodiversity?
  • Follow-up:
    • How bio-diverse is our campus?
post reading2
  • Essay Problem:
    • How can we increase biodiversity on the community, national, and international level?
      • Make a case for biodiversity
      • Offer solutions for species extinction
        • Individual action
        • Collective action
discussion essay prompts
Discussion/Essay Prompts
  • Integrated
    • Directly address content
    • Prompt sophisticated writing
  • Critical Thinking
    • Students should cognitively engage with content

(e.g. craft an argument)

discussion essay prompts1
Discussion/Essay Prompts
  • Article: “Sex Selection Should be Regulated,” by Hattie Kaufman.
    • Dr. Steinburg and Dr. Caplan disagree on this issue. Explain each of their ideas, and then write an argument in which you take a side on the issue of if we should have government regulation of this issue.
discussion essay prompts2
Discussion/Essay Prompts
  • Article: “Will we soon be extinct?” by Josh Clark.
    • How can we increase biodiversity on the community, national, and international level?
      • Make a case for biodiversity, citing Clark’s article.
      • Offer solutions for species extinction.
        • Remember to think about individual action as well as collective action.
responding to writing
Responding to Writing

Focus on heavily…

Focus some on…

Emergent skills

Engaging with content

Gauging comprehension

  • Sentence complexity
  • Academic tone
  • Major grammar issues
    • e.g. sentence boundaries, subject-verb.


Grammar-heavy comments

Giving too many suggestions or marks of any kind

Non-specific praise, like “This is great!”


After reading…

  • What stands out to you about the writing?
  • What ideas is the student engaging with?
  • What ideas is s/he forming?
  • What are the essay’s strengths?
  • What areas can be improved?
responding to writing1
Responding to Writing
  • Incorporating quotes.
  • Engaging with those statements.
  • Drawing inferences.
  • “Thousands of dollars”?
  • How do you think Walton feels about the “low-benefit model”?
  • Should you introduce the paragraph material first?
  • Tone.

Walmart founder Sam Walton once said, "I pay low wages. I can take advantage of that. We're going to be successful, but the basis is a very low-wage, low-benefit model of employment." So what does that tell you? Well I can tell you, what I think of that statement. I think that, If Wal-Mart wants to continue making thousands of dollars per year, than Walmart should not only worry about how much money Walmart can make, but how successful Walmart employees could be, what they can learn, and employees can make more money by working full time schedules, if that’s what the employee prefers.

responding to writing2
Responding to Writing

The Grammar Question

  • Triage / Just-in-time
    • Most urgent needs first
    • Assess group needs
    • One-on-one or brief lectures
  • Always practice grammar in context
Retention rates for each subsequent semester and median hours passed for all students in ACLT052 cohort
student feedback
Student Feedback

All of the students reported that they would recommend ACLT 052 to other students.

All of the students felt that the 5-hour, integrated course was more effective than taking stand-alone courses.

All of the students felt that while the course work was very challenging, it was useful in preparing them for 100-level courses.

Most students enjoyed the readings, activities, and assignments.

Most students expressed that as a result of this course, they feel prepared for credit coursework.

Some students did not feel ready to move on to credit coursework, but they feel like this course put them on the right track.



  • Develop a lesson plan.
  • Remember integration, embedding, & critical thinking.
  • Use the following organizational model:
    • Pre-reading
    • Reading
    • Post-reading
  • Create group poster
contact information
Contact Information

Dr. Jeanine L. Williams

Coordinator of Reading Acceleration Initiatives


Prof. Haleh Harris

Prof. Sharon Hayes

Prof. Ryan Donnelly