top of page

Authentic Literacy Experiences EVERY Classroom Needs--No Worksheets Necessary

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

Authentic Literacy Tasks and Experiences will


your students' thinking!

Every students asks the question...

Why do I need to learn this?

Why do I need to do this?

If you haven't heard students ask these questions, you know they were probably thinking it!

Even the littlest of students can wonder these things and we want to make all learning real and relevant with "real world" connections!

From Kindergarten to High School, students can be immersed in "real world" thinking and tasks. It can be even the simplest thing for our littlest friends.

No one wants to fill out a worksheet!

Teachers don't want to

copy them,

grade them or even

store them!

Kiddos don't want to fill out worksheets all day.

They want something a little more exciting!

Planning authentic literacy tasks and experiences will nudge students to think outside of the "recall and recognition" box.

Students will be actively engaging in "real world" work. Let's face it...we hear "real world" all the time in education--College and Career Ready.

There are authentic literacy activities that you can use over and over but add variety so students won't get bored with it.

  • How do we make sure that our literacy tasks and experiences are helping our kiddos become "real world" ready?

  • How can I make sure my students our working at their highest potential?

  • How can I make sure my students (and I) are not going to get bored and caught in that never-ending worksheet copy trap? (Ugh!!)

Worksheets are NOT necessary

to see if students understand text or content!

The following literacy experiences and tasks can provide enough variety and are OH SO VALUABLE in understanding the processes and thinking of your readers in the classroom!!

Check out this menu and the real world connections below...

Student Choice

Give students a choice of what they would like to read. Provide a variety of reading materials from which to choose. Have students apply the standards-based learning of comprehension strategy work within their own independent reading selections.

MATERIALS NEEDED: School Library & Classroom Library with a variety of text genres and text types

REAL WORLD CONNECTION: We like to have choice in what we read. Sometimes it's not possible, but we are more engaged in our own reading choices. Imagine if someone told you what you could and couldn't read while sitting on your back porch drinking coffee (or whatever else you enjoy drinking! :)

Stop and Jots

As students are reading their self-selected books, have them jot their thinking about

what they are reading as they go. Jots capture quick thoughts while a student is reading. Their jots should focus on the strategy minilesson of the day and all of the previous strategies taught.

When we ask students to make their thinking visible by jotting their thoughts while reading, we are providing opportunities for students to nudge their thinking about text further.

When we ask students to slow down their thinking to stop and jot their thoughts, we help them understand the comprehension strategy they are using at the time.

Their thinking is visible which provides the teacher with a glimpse inside the student's head. We don't have to infer or wonder what the student was thinking at the time, the jot will give it away.

MATERIALS NEEDED: Student self-selected books, sticky notes and/or Readers' Notebooks

REAL WORLD CONNECTION: In the "real world", reading is around us every day--movie ads, brochures, menus, applications, newspapers, magazines, etc. When we have students stop and jot, they are actively trying out the comprehension strategies they are learning. As their thinking progresses through the grade levels, they will be more ready to understand the world around them.

Written Responses

After reading a text, students can provide a written response to capture their thinking after finishing their reading selection.

Much like stop and jots, longer written responses can provide a glimpse into a child's head while they are thinking about the text.

Longer written responses allow students to process and connect all of their smaller jotted thinking into a more cohesive piece that conveys their understanding of the text.

MATERIALS NEEDED: Student self-selected books, sticky notes and/or Readers' Notebooks

REAL WORLD: Ditto to the Stop and Jot real world connection above. AND...students are able to process their thoughts about text, ideas and thinking. This will help students think before they speak! Can you think of any adults in your life right now that really need this life skill? HA!

Accountable Talk

Students should be given opportunities to share their reading thinking with each other and with you. They may need talking stems to shape their speaking about the text in the

beginning, but talking and shaping a conversation is an art that students will begin developing through talk about texts.

Even the littles can talk about text! won't sound like those conversations in high school, but it will be talking about text. Everyone loves a good book, right?

Reading inspires talk!

Let's help our students develop the art of conversation AND the art of hearing two sides of a story!

With accountable talk, students must provide reliable evidence to support their thinking. Again, can you think of any adults in your life that really need this life skill?

MATERIALS NEEDED: Teacher Read Aloud and/or Student self-selected books, sticky notes and/or Readers' Notebooks, Anchor Chart of Talking Stems

REAL WORLD: When we read something that speaks to our emotions, what is the first thing you want to do? I want to talk about it! It could be the latest fiction novel that I read. It could be the latest news story that I read online. it could be the consumer report about an item I'm shopping for.

Talk is natural. However, students need the practice to develop the art of conversation.

Let's face it...they are hiding behind their electronic devices and lack the skills necessary to have face to face conversations.

We want them to do well in job interviews and collaboration in the workplace. Accountable talk about the text is perfect for building this skill!

Reading Reflections

Students need to reflect on the texts they are reading, but they also need to reflect on their strategy use and how they are feeling as readers.

Students need to reflect on how they are developing their new learning.

Provide time for students to reflect on how they are doing as readers several times a year--maybe once a month so they can see how their reading life is growing and changing.

MATERIALS NEEDED: Sticky notes and/or Readers' Notebooks or Comprehension Strategy exit slips or Reading Reflections questions

REAL WORLD: How do we get better at something we are trying to achieve?

We reflect!

We think about what we have done. We think about what we can improve.

We make a plan for making some improvements.

We keep trying.

Reading Projects

After finishing a book, students could represent their final thinking about the book within a project.

Students could have choices of projects from which they can select or even a proposal to submit to the teacher for approval of how they want to represent their thinking.

MATERIALS NEEDED: Student self-selected books, Readers' Notebooks or Independent Book Projects

REAL WORLD: When students are able to take all of their thinking about an idea or topic and put it into one final piece, they are working at processing their thinking. We need more adults that can process their thinking and construct a clear message for their audience.

Writing With Purpose

Students must be provided with real opportunities to write. They must be given a choice of their topic instead of being given a prompt.

When students write for their own purposes they are more apt to give their best effort because they are writing from the heart.

Provide students with real audiences and purposes to write.

This could be a closed audience like a bulletin board at the school for all to see.

This could be a letter written to the principal or school board that addresses a real issue.

The possibilities are endless.

MATERIALS NEEDED: Student self-selected writing topics, Writers' Notebooks

REAL WORLD: Adults are faced with times where they have to convey a written message--job applications, written proposals, collaborative work projects, etc.

Students must learn how to write that conveys a clear message to the intended audience.


Students are naturally curious. It’s human nature.

When it comes to content area studies, students may have many questions. Let them generate the questions they want to be answered by the content area topic you are studying at the time.

Then provide them with experiences to find answers to those questions.

They will learn the content but it will be for their own purposes.

Who knows, it may take their learning deeper than you ever imagined.

MATERIALS NEEDED: Student-generated questions about a topic of study or topic of interest, Sticky notes and/or Readers' Notebooks or Inquiry Research Notebook.

REAL WORLD: Humans are naturally curious. We are confronted with many questions and obstacles along our "real world" path.

We must know how to find the answers we need to answer our questions and overcome our obstacles in life.

Students need to be able to practice finding answers and solving problems. That's a life skill everyone needs!


Authentic Literacy Tasks and experiences will nudge students to think outside of the "recall and recognition" box. Students will be actively engaging in "real world" work.

Until next time...

Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store to check out these products to supplement your authentic learning experiences as shown and described above...

bottom of page