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Collaborative Coaching for Disciplinary Literacy

Strategies to Support Teachers in Grades 6-12

Laurie Elish-Piper, Susan K. L'Allier, Michael Manderino, and Paula Di Domenico

A Paperback Originale-bookprint + e-book
A Paperback Original
February 12, 2016
ISBN 9781462524389
Price: $32.00
225 Pages
Size: 8" x 10½"
January 14, 2016
Price: $32.00
225 Pages
print + e-book
A Paperback Original + e-Book (PDF) ?
Price: $64.00 $35.20
225 Pages
bookProfessors: request an exam copy

Today's standards challenge middle and high school teachers to teach their content deeply and meaningfully. This book provides an innovative coaching model for helping science, social studies, and English language arts teachers promote the reading, writing, listening, speaking, and thinking skills needed for high-level work in each discipline. Seventeen specific strategies are presented for large-group, small-group, and individual coaching, including step-by-step instructions and implementation tips. Profiles of highly effective disciplinary literacy coaches illustrate the nuts and bolts of the job and highlight ways to deal with common challenges. In a large-size format for easy photocopying, the book includes 21 reproducible forms. Purchasers get access to a Web page where they can download and print the reproducible materials.

“This well-organized text includes a clear theoretical framework in addition to 17 research-based strategies that can be easily implemented by disciplinary literacy coaches to support teachers in adjusting their instruction to meet today’s literacy demands. The extremely user-friendly text offers step-by-step instructions and examples of real coaches implementing the strategies….Reproducible forms are also included that make it easy for disciplinary coaches to begin using some of the strategies immediately….Highly recommended. Graduate students and practitioners.”

Choice Reviews

“Essential reading for literacy coaches who are wondering how they can remain effective under the new, more rigorous standards and the emphasis on disciplinary literacy. Focusing on the language features and functions unique to each discipline can be daunting to coaches who have been operating solely under a content-area reading model. The clear explanations, practical guidelines, and useful examples will help coaches adapt their previous practices to new demands and make the daunting feel ultimately doable.”

—Cynthia Shanahan, EdD, College of Education (Emerita), University of Illinois at Chicago

“This is the book that was missing when I began my career as a coach! It honors the work of coaches and teachers, and places students and their learning at the center of all we do. From explaining the theoretical foundations of disciplinary literacy to offering practical guidance on how to begin, maintain, and grow a coaching model in schools and districts, this book clearly articulates the core tenets and practices of effective coaching in grades 6–12. It is truly a gift to coaches everywhere.”

—Sarah Marie Durst, EdM, Professional Learning Facilitator and former instructional coach, Champaign, Illinois

“This well-organized, 'must-read' book is based on the many experiences of the authors in their work with secondary school coaches and teachers. It reflects a deep understanding of collaborative coaching and its potential to make a difference for student literacy and content learning. This is a great resource for middle and secondary school coaches as well as university instructors and graduate students.”

—Rita M. Bean, PhD, School of Education (Emerita), University of Pittsburgh

“An invaluable how-to manual for instructional coaches who are looking to define and refine their craft. The book explains many different coaching stances and how to negotiate and describe those stances with stakeholders, as well as how to run different levels of professional development, from working one-on-one to leading large groups.”

—Cara Gutzmer, EdM, MS, Professional Learning Facilitator, Center for Education in Small Urban Communities, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Table of Contents

I. Disciplinary Literacy in a Standards-Based Era

What Is Disciplinary Literacy?

Teaching for Disciplinary Literacy

Disciplinary Literacy in Action

Disciplinary Literacy: An Integral Aspect of Today's Standards

The Complexity of Disciplinary Literacy Instruction

Why Disciplinary Literacy Matters for Secondary Literacy Coaches

II. Disciplinary Literacy Coaching

What Is Literacy Coaching?

Disciplinary Literacy Coaching and Change

Guidelines for Effective Disciplinary Literacy Coaching

Three Layers of Coaching

Coaching Stances and Coaching Language

Making the Most of Coaching Time


III. Models of Disciplinary Literacy Coaching

Teacher-Initiated Model

Co-Teaching Model

Department/Team Model

Liaison Model

Selecting a Disciplinary Literacy Coaching Model


IV. Large-Group Coaching Strategies to Build a Foundation for Disciplinary Literacy Instruction

Strategy 1: Establishing a Climate for Disciplinary Literacy Coaching

Strategy 2: Facilitating an Article Study Group

Strategy 3: Providing Professional Development Golden Nuggets at Faculty, Department, and Team Meetings

Strategy 4: Presenting Powerful Professional Development

Strategy 5: Using Technology to Connect Coaches and Teachers

V. Small-Group Coaching Strategies to Support Disciplinary Literacy Instruction

Strategy 6: Determining Disciplinary Literacy Outcomes and Creating Assessment Structures

Strategy 7: Selecting, Assessing, and Scaffolding Complex Texts

Strategy 8: Prioritizing Vocabulary for Instruction

Strategy 9: Reviewing Common Assessments

Strategy 10: Developing Discussion Protocols

Strategy 11: Facilitating Teacher Inquiry into the Disciplines

VI. Individual Coaching Strategies to Support Teachers with Disciplinary Literacy Instruction

Strategy 12: Creating Essential Questions

Strategy 13: Developing Questions with Objectives

Strategy 14: Applying the Extended Gradual Release of Responsibility Model

Strategy 15: Implementing Three Levels of Think-Aloud

Strategy 16: Adopting, Adapting, and Creating Strategies

Strategy 17: Using the Coaching Cycle

VII. Profiles of Highly Effective Disciplinary Literacy Coaches

Profile 1: Establishing and Maintaining Administrator Support

Profile 2: Applying the Layered Approach to Coaching

Profile 3: Getting into Classrooms

Profile 4: Differentiating Coaching to Support All Teachers

Profile 5: Working with Hesitant Teachers

Profile 6: Using Tools and Tips for Productive Coaching

Profile 7: Developing a Support System

Final Thoughts


About the Authors

Laurie Elish-Piper, PhD, is Acting Dean of the College of Education at Northern Illinois University, where she also holds the titles of Distinguished Teaching Professor and Presidential Engagement Professor in the Department of Literacy and Elementary Education. Her research and teaching focus on literacy leadership and coaching, and she has published and presented widely on literacy coaching at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Dr. Elish-Piper has worked extensively with school districts to develop and implement literacy coaching programs, and she teaches graduate courses related to literacy coaching and leadership. She has coauthored eight books, including The Common Core Coaching Book (with Susan K. L’Allier). Formerly, she worked as a middle school reading and language arts teacher and an educational therapist in a clinical setting.

Susan K. L’Allier, EdD, is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Reading Program in the Department of Literacy and Elementary Education at Northern Illinois University. She and Laurie Elish-Piper have conducted multiple research studies to examine the relationship between literacy coaching and student literacy achievement. In addition to their journal articles, chapters, and presentations about literacy coaching, they have also published a video “workshop in a box” titled The Literacy Coaching Series, which enables viewers to see and analyze interactions between literacy coaches and teachers. Formerly, Dr. L’Allier worked as an elementary teacher, a lead teacher, and a principal.

Michael Manderino, PhD, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Literacy and Elementary Education at Northern Illinois University. He has presented widely with Laurie Elish-Piper, Susan K. L’Allier, and Paula Di Domenico on disciplinary literacy coaching at the secondary level. He coauthored a book on content-area learning and has published articles on disciplinary literacy in leading journals. He received dissertation awards from the Literacy Research Association and the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers. Dr. Manderino also works closely with school districts to implement disciplinary literacy in the curriculum and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses related to disciplinary literacy. Formerly, he was a high school history teacher and disciplinary literacy coach.

Paula Di Domenico, EdD, is a secondary disciplinary literacy coach at Leyden High School District 212 in Franklin Park, Illinois, and serves as an adjunct instructor of graduate courses in literacy education at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. Dr. Di Domenico’s research focuses on teachers’ disciplinary literacy knowledge and on secondary literacy coaching. She has presented on the topic of disciplinary literacy coaching with the other authors of this volume. Formerly, she was a high school English and developmental reading teacher.


Literacy coaches, reading specialists, and teacher leaders in grades 6–12; teacher educators and graduate students.

Course Use

May serve as a text in such courses as Literacy Coaching and Leadership in School Literacy Programs.