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I Have Diverse & Complex Texts...Now What?!?!

Person writing on sticky notes with a sharpie

So you've done the hard work of ensuring your high school classroom centers diverse and complex what do you do?! You cannot just give students the texts and say, "Read! Tell me what you learned!" You have to support that engagement, and cross content learning moves can help.

These moves are designed by high school teachers for their own use to center the reading, writing, and discussion tasks students must do to learn the content and skills in various disciplines.

By using these moves, your students can understand the evidence under consideration, adjust their conceptions, and share their own compelling ideas and analysis. High school classrooms can be places where students build both literacy skills and content knowledge.


What are Cross Content Learning Moves?

Cross content learning moves support using class time to engage with relevant grade level work. They provide just-in-time text-specific support for students across literacy tasks:

  • Reading moves focus on the content and construct of the text. Students get access to diverse, complex text through rereading, chunking, and other efficient scaffolds.

  • Discussion moves give students the opportunity to clarify and adjust their own thinking on important subjects, using evidence from reading to engage in oral collaboration with their peers.

  • Writing moves support students to capture and organize essential evidence, help them write compelling and complex sentences, and unlock the structure of longer writing tasks.

What Does it Look Like in Other Schools?

When I was a high school history teacher, I worked with a team of grade level teachers who used common learning moves. Our team consisted of a science teacher, a health teacher, an English teacher, and myself. We selected just three common learning moves:Text Annotations, Save the Last Word, and Sentence Summarization. We committed to regularly pairing these moves with course texts and tasks. Our goal was to see increased engagement with grade level course materials.

While a little clunky at the start, in just a few weeks we saw enormous benefit. We saw an increase in engagement with grade level work - students were reading core texts, grappling with what they meant, and using evidence from texts in their peer discussions and individual writings.

We saw other unexpected benefits too. Students recognized the learning moves from class to class and were able to make them their own. They employed the learning moves in clever and helpful ways beyond what we had originally assigned.

Additionally, we as teachers could compare student work from class to class. This allowed us to learn from our students and one another about how to best support rigorous work.

Other high schools and districts have engaged in similar shared writing practice, literacy moves, and phonics instruction to great results. The work to engage with shared learning moves may not be easy to start, but it is so worthwhile.


Wondering How to Get Started?

Start small.

To start using such learning moves in your own school or district, consider starting small. You can work with a group of teachers, maybe with your own content area or across a grade level. As a collaborative, discuss the needs of your students and content areas. Use these findings to select a short list of moves you all commit to using.

Implement the moves and compare notes.

After a few times implementing, ask students how the learning moves are helpful or not. Get together with your teacher team to compare student work and discuss what is going well and what needs to be adjusted.


Based on these experiences, make the necessary adjustments and try again. To help get you started, some of Education 4500’s favorite moves are listed and described below.

Screen shot of some of Education 4500's favorite moves

Interested in learning more?

Perhaps you want to design such learning moves for your own school, department, or classroom? Reach out to - we love partnering with educators.


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