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The Accelerated Instructional Cycle

By Jessica Aggrey

Day 3: Porterville Acceleration Training

It’s time to reflect on day three of the Porterville Acceleration Training lead by Melissa Long. Again, if you’re not sure what I mean by acceleration, check out this page.

There are two things from day three that I want to capture. In this post, I’ll explain Melissa’s version of the accelerated instructional cycle, and then in a follow-up post, I’ll share an engaging idea for helping students start to synthesize multiple sources.  


The Instructional Cycle

Some program models have discrete skills courses. For example, there may be a separate reading course and a separate writing course. In an accelerated program, reading and writing are integrated. Writing about what you read is a great way to take reading comprehension to a deeper level. Moreover, how can you write about a meaningful academic topic if you don’t read?

In an integrated classroom, there is a recursive activity flow as students are reading and then writing. The accelerated instructional cycle helps to facilitate both a deep understanding of the readings and strong writing skills. Below is Melissa’s adaptation of the instructional cycle taken from a handout she created. She has divided it into three main categories: read, think, and write. To see Melissa’s awesome list of activity ideas for each step of the cycle, click here.


Pre-reading (In-class)

“In-class activity or discussion to build ‘schema’ or activate students’ background knowledge on the topic/questions. Teacher provides guidance on what to pay attention for, key terms that might be unfamiliar to students, and any portion they may find challenging”


“Using a reading strategy to engage with a text. Students annotate, journal, log, and/or interact with the text as they are reading (usually as homework).


Post-Reading (In-Class)

“In-class activities for students to process, clarify, and engage with ideas/information from reading – e.g. small group and whole class discussions, debates, games.”

Low-Stakes Writing

“Writing activities that focus on responding and analyzing at increasing levels of formality and complexity. Students focus on formulating arguments and generating ideas with the understanding that only a small percentage of this material might actually make it into the final essay.”



“Students move from informal explanations of the reading to integrating, synthesizing, building arguments. Good prompts require higher order thinking with key ideas/information from assigned texts and that students must articulate and support their own perspective. ( Poor prompts allow students to bypass the text, over-rely on personal comments, and/or string together chunks of summary with no analysis.”


“Students actively strive to improve drafts in terms of organization, structure, and logic as well as writing conventions and format with help from classmates, campus resources, and the instructor.”


This cycle is repeated for each major unit in your course and is a helpful way to structure a course in order to promote a deeper understanding of readings and more complex and thoughtful written assignments. You may choose not to follow the instructional cycle exactly. For example, you’ll probably complete the first four steps for a couple of readings and then start the drafting phase where you can have students synthesize information learned in both texts. 

Stay tuned for my next post where you’ll learn about an activity to help students start drafting by synthesizing information from multiple sources by having the authors meet for a dinner party.

Say Thanks. Get Jessica a cup of coffee.


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