Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection

Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection


These online self-paced lessons for blended learning, funded by the Walmart Foundation, are designed to enhance the literacy skills of struggling readers in grades 5–8.  Each uses videos, interactive activities, note taking, reading, and writing to present students with an engaging science, social studies, mathematics, or English language arts topic.

Each lesson addresses a range of literacy strategies, which are listed in the accompanying teacher's guide.

Students need to be signed in to complete these lessons. To register your students, refer to "Student Help" through the Help tab on the PBS LearningMedia homepage or click here.

  • Tiktaalik: A Fish Out of Water

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students learn that transitional fossils provide scientists with evidence to establish how major animal groups are related to one another in evolutionary terms. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a science focus on a recently discovered fossil named Tiktaalik. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through a video and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8,13+
  • Slavery and the U.S. Constitution

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students learn about the debate over slavery at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a social studies focus on the changing perception of slavery in the new United States and the ways in which the debate over slavery affected the content of the Constitution. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • From Slavery to Freedom in Colonial Times

    In this blended lesson supporing literacy skills, students learn the story of Venture Smith, an African boy who was enslaved and brought to America in 1737. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a social studies focus on differences between slavery in the North and South as they learn about Smith’s journey from slavery to freedom.During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Who Was Alexander Hamilton?

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students learn about the early life of Alexander Hamilton and his achievements as an adult during the Revolutionary War and in the Washington administration. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a social studies focus on how Hamilton’s role as an outsider shaped his beliefs about the powers of the federal government. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Symbolism: Keely's Mountain

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students are introduced to Keely, who feels that her identity as a Nipmuc Native American is weakened because there is no strong Nipmuc community around her. The video Keely made when she was young and felt discouraged is countered by her positive thoughts about identity when she is older. Students develop their literacy skills through an English language arts focus on symbolism. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Multiplying Fractions by Whole Numbers: Recipes

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students watch videos and complete interactive activities to learn about fractions and learn how to perform certain operations with fractions. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a mathematics focus on multiplying fractions by whole numbers. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Supporting Middle School Literacy: Research Principles

    This self-paced lesson designed for teacher professional development introduces research principles that support the needs of middle school learners when reading and comprehending nonfiction text and shows these principles in action in actual classrooms. While the lessons in the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection are designed so that students can work independently and at their own pace, the teacher plays an important role in ensuring maximum student learning and engagement.

    It is recommended that you follow this lesson with the “Using the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection” professional development lesson to learn teaching strategies for integrating student lessons into your curriculum.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Population Sampling: Fish

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students watch videos and complete interactive activities to learn how the Ojibwe tribe in Minnesota measure the abundance of various fish in their lake, how they interpret the data they collect, and how they make predictions about future populations based on their findings. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a mathematics focus on population sampling. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Graphing Distance and Time: Travel

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students watch videos and complete interactive activities to learn how to represent a young man’s unicycle trip on a graph. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a mathematics focus on expressing distance–time relationships with graphs. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Solving a Public Health Problem

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students watch videos about a real-life disease outbreak in New York City and learn about the step-by-step process public health workers use in investigating the cause of similar outbreaks. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a science focus on public health. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Personification: Cowbirds

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students learn about the cowbird through a documentary video and explore how the video uses personification to present information about this bird. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore an English language arts focus on personification as a literary device. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • The Facts About Concussions

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students watch videos featuring concussion victims and medical researchers to learn about the causes and symptoms of this serious type of brain injury. They also examine the challenges doctors face when diagnosing concussions and the technologies being developed to aid in these efforts. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a science focus on personal health. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Using the 3Rs to Help the Environment

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students watch videos that focus on our environment and the ways individuals and businesses can reduce the amount of trash they create and the natural resources they use. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a science focus on managing waste and natural resources. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. When they are finished, students select and complete a writing assignment offline.This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8,13+
  • The Story of Pocahontas

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students learn that there are multiple versions of the story of Pocahontas and John Smith. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a social studies focus on the two different versions of this story that Smith wrote, and what historians believe really happened when Smith met Pocahontas. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Using Inspiring Middle School Literacy in Afterschool Programs

    This self-paced lesson designed for professionals in afterschool programs introduces the student lessons in the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection and shows how they can be used to support struggling readers and engage all students in online, content-based lessons. While the student lessons are designed for students to work independently and at their own pace, the teacher or facilitator plays an important role in ensuring maximum student learning and engagement. This professional development lesson gets you started by describing the steps of using the student lessons in an afterschool program, including selecting a lesson, preparing before a lesson, assessing the lesson, and expanding the lesson in creative ways.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Trail of Tears: The Cherokee Fight Against Removal

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students are introduced to the Cherokees' struggle to remain on their land in the early 1800s. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a social studies focus on the assimilation strategy of the Cherokee Nation and its eventual impact on their fate. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Unit Conversion: Water Use

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students watch videos and complete interactive activities to learn how much water various activities use and explore ways that they can conserve water resources. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a mathematics focus on using fractions to convert units of measurement. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8,13+
  • Using the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection

    This self-paced lesson designed for teacher professional development introduces teaching strategies for integrating the content-based student lessons in the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection into your curriculum. The lessons can be used to introduce, supplement, or review content while supporting students’ literacy skills, particularly those of struggling readers. This professional development lesson goes through the process of using the student lessons in your classroom step-by-step, including selecting a lesson, preparing before a lesson, and assessing the lesson.

    It is recommended that you precede this lesson with the “Research Principles for Supporting Middle School Literacy” professional development lesson to learn about the research principles for middle school literacy and explore how they are evident in this collection.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Forces of Gravity and Air Resistance

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students watch videos about gravity and investigate the motion of falling objects on Earth and on the Moon. They examine how the force of gravity acts on falling objects and how air resistance counteracts gravity. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Powering Your Body with Exercise

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students examine the changes that occur within the body in response to physical activity. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore personal health and the role of exercise. When they are finished, students select and complete a writing assignment offline. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8,13+

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