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Intermediate Literacy
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Intermediate Literacy

Intermediate literacy includes the skills necessary to help learners transition from foundational literacy skills—such as concepts of print, phonemic awareness, and phonics—into the more robust and automatic literacy practices needed to read more and more complex texts (Shanahan and Shanahan, 2008). 


Across content areas, including secondary ELA, all educators must explicitly teach generic reading, writing, and discussion strategies to help them bridge into the demands of secondary reading, writing, and speaking. These widely applicable strategies help learners in all literacy tasks they will face, giving them the confidence to take on more challenging disciplinary reading tasks in their educational careers. 


Examples of Intermediate Literacy Strategies:  

  • Engage in pre-reading strategies to help learners engage with the concepts prior to reading

  • Re-reading strategies for problems and directions

  • Annotation key (question-?, connection-!, circle unfamiliar words, etc)

  • Model reading a disciplinary text by sharing questions, connections, and summaries aloud to model the metacognitive process

  • Embedded writing sentence frames and word banks for discipline specific writing (ex: claim-evidence-reasoning)

  • Reduce language barriers by introducing key concepts (written and visuals) in accessible language

  • Provide hands-on experiences before introducing new discipline specific language (disaggregate instruction)

  • Self monitoring strategies for comprehension

  • Asking and answering questions about the text

  • Intermediate literacy also includes attending to and supporting learners’ reading fluency, which has three components: “accuracy in word decoding, automaticity in recognizing words, and appropriate use of prosody or meaningful oral expression while reading” (Rasinski, 2006). 

    • Approaches that support fluency development include repeated reading and preparing passages for oral presentation or performance.


MYP and AVID are two specific programs supporting learners in developing their intermediate literacy skills.


MYP: In MYP, the Approaches To Learning Skills Framework outlines a number of skills that are embedded across content learning. The following are intermediate literacies:

  • Paraphrase accurately and concisely

  • Preview and skim texts to build understanding

  • Make effective summary notes for studying

  • Locate, organize, analyze, and synthesize information from a variety of sources


AVID: AVID is a schoolwide framework for instruction, systems, leadership and culture that supports learners’ development of intermediate and disciplinary literacy skills. Examples of intermediate literacy skills developed in AVID include the following:

  • Expanding knowledge and use of academic language and vocabulary
  • Comprehension strategies including:
  • Pre-reading strategies
  • Interacting with text
  • Making and extending meaning beyond text
  • Writing to make meaning of and to think beyond texts:
  • Learning to Write 
  • Writing to Learn
  • Focused Note-Taking


The following image illustrates the relationship between foundational, intermediate, and disciplinary literacy over grades K-12.