Literacy Across the Lifespan: What Works?

Michael Shanahan


This article explores similarities in literacy learning across various life-span stages and considers what actions must be taken to improve literacy attainment and achievement, whether the delivery site is prekindergarten, elementary, secondary, adult, family, workplace, volunteer, or community literacy. The emphasis here is on what it takes to successfully teach individuals to read and write well separate from any adjustments that must be made for context or learner characteristics. Research is examined for five essential variables in literacy learning, including (1) amount of teaching; (2) content of instruction; (3) quality of instruction; (4) student motivation; and (5) alignment and support.

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Publication of the Community Literacy Journal is made possible through the generous support of the English Department and the Writing and Rhetoric Program at Florida International University. The CLJ is a journal of the Conference on Community Writing.