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Lesson Plan

A Portrait of Our World: Making Connections and Developing Comprehension

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A Portrait of Our World: Making Connections and Developing Comprehension

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Nine 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Diane Brantley, Ph.D.

San Bernardino, California


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Engage middle school students in a meaningful study of the lives of students from across the globe through the use of contemporary nonfiction and fiction. Students create personal autobiographies, sequence story events, and prepare well-crafted summaries while learning to use higher-level comprehension strategies such as Question-Answer Relationships and the Bio-Cube. Additionally, students conduct a critical study of the NCSS Notable Tradebook Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story From Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter, comparing and contrasting their own lives to Nasreen's and expanding their geographical knowledge of the Middle East.

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Bio-Cube: Bio-Cube is an interactive tool that helps students to organize and synthesize information for use when writing an autobiography.

A Guide to Question–Answer Relationships: The Question–Answer Relationship strategy develops higher-level comprehension skills with both narrative and expository texts by teaching students how to answer the four levels of questions and to even create their own questions.

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter (Beach Lane Books, 2009): This book teaches students about a different life and culture and exposes them to the narrative format they need to use when creating their autobiographies.

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Liang, L.A., & Dole, J.A. (2006). Help with teaching reading comprehension: Comprehension instructional frameworks. The Reading Teacher, 59(8), 742–753.

  • There are five research-based comprehension instructional frameworks that focus on the understanding of content: (1) Scaffolded Reading Experience, (2) Questioning the Author, (3) Collaborative Strategic Reading, (4) Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies, and (5) Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction.

  • The five instructional frameworks are used in various grouping formats for short and long units of study.

  • They are instructional frameworks, not scripted programs, and therefore can be used with various age groups and across different content areas.

Soares, L.B., & Wood, K. (2010). A critical literacy perspective for teaching and learning social studies. The Reading Teacher, 63(6), 486–494.

  • Promoting a critical literacy perspective within social studies lessons allows students to become immersed in a democratic way of life by learning to critically examine our global world and take a stand on social justice issues.

  • Critical pedagogy allows students to bring their own life experiences into classroom lessons and promotes multiple perspectives on important issues.

  • Five instructional themes emerge to promote comprehension and critical literacy: (1) examining multiple perspectives, (2) finding your authentic voice, (3) recognizing social barriers and crossing borders of separation, (4) finding one’s identity, and (5) rising to the call of service.

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