What is the Authentic Literacy Model?

When reading instruction for struggling readers focuses on remediation and simplification of text, it can create a vicious cycle of students disengaging from texts they find irrelevant and teachers answering with further simplification and remediation.  This paper presentation will highlight the Authentic Literacy Model (ALM) which is an approach to literacy instruction that uses rich powerful texts to provide students with the opportunity to grapple with complex, ambiguous, and relevant ideas.   Through the authentic literacy model, reading is repurposed as an experience students partake in to study words, discuss texts, close read texts, and substantive written expression.

What is Authentic Literacy Model?

ALM is a constructivist literacy approach that requires students to actively build their knowledge of a discipline.  The model involves four components: explicit vocabulary instruction (or word study), close reading, inquiry text talks (ITT), and substantive writing. Essentially, the components of ALM have all individually demonstrated the ability to increase student learning through providing the supports that struggling learners require when grappling with complex texts.

Word study  – Word study is the back bone to the model. Word study builds students’ oral language and supports their acquisition of text by first understanding the language.

Close Reading – Close reading is a technique that deliberately requires conscious reading on the part of the reader. In particular, the Elder-Paul (2008) version of close reading demands a deep analysis of text during reading and has 5 levels with specific behaviors for each.

Inquiry Text Talks (ITT) – The function of the Inquiry Text Talk is to create a community of learners who are free to share ideas about the text and their questions related to the text while developing oral language.

 Substantive Writing – Because reading and writing are reciprocal processes, ALM has students doing close reading and substantive writing concurrently. This enhances deeper reading comprehension and improved written compositions.


About Anitra Butler

Ms. Butler received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Bowie State University, a Master’s degree in Reading Instruction from Bowie State University, and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Bilingual Special Education from The George Washington University. She has also finished her third Master's degree in Instructional Design for Online Learning at Capella University. Ms. Butler is pursuing doctoral studies in Language, Literacy, and Culture. Her research interests include comparative education and academic support, disciplinary literacy, sociolinguistics, and participatory program evaluation.
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