Accelerate Reading Comprehension in Science and Social Studies

The following 4 components are critical to student reading and comprehension at grade level:

  • Increase access to informational text
  • Increase time with informational text 
  • Practice comprehension strategies
  • Use authentic text

Studies show students reading non-fiction, informational text in their zone of proximal development is the key to reading and vocabulary development. It allows students to read at an accelerated rate, increase comprehension and take on more word acquisition, syntax, and grammar understanding.  

The challenge teachers face is how to provide the needed resources and scaffolding opportunities for ALL students with a wide range of abilities, strengths, and needs in their classrooms.   

How Expedition: Learn! can help

Each lesson in Britannica’s Expedition: Learn! is designed to help accelerate comprehension of concepts in science and social studies by tailoring content to the appropriate instructional level of each learner. By providing the same content at four different reading levels, Expedition: Learn! provides greater accessibility to the material being taught, while maintaining student interest, encouraging independence, and supporting growth through building learner confidence.  Expedition: Learn! provides teachers with the tools and the flexibility to adjust instruction to meet the particular needs of their students, putting academic achievement within reach for all learners. 

Scaffolding and support are essential to student improvement and success. Here are some of the features in Expedition: Learn! to support best practices in teaching students to read and learn from what they read at grade level.  

Reading Levels – Students can adjust the Lexile reading levels of text to find appropriate reading levels to acquire new vocabulary, comprehend the content, and increase fluency. To accelerate students’ zone of proximal development, the reading levels can be adjusted after a student has a firm grasp on article content and can use the following tools to support reading comprehension and vocabulary development in the grade-level appropriate text. 

  • Read Aloud – Pairing auditory and visual text helps students focus on the reading task and encourages deeper comprehension by improving word recognition, allowing students to focus on comprehension instead of sounding out words, and increasing fluency with pacing and highlighted text.
  • Built-in Merriam-Webster Dictionary – Key domain-specific and academic vocabulary definitions are previewed and defined at the beginning of each section of the text, assisting in reading comprehension and building students’ vocabulary inventory.
  • Translation Tool – English Language Learners will benefit from the translation tool to provide a basis for comprehension of text before tackling the English version.  The translation tool, which supports more than 100 languages, can be used to provide L1 support for vocabulary development, comprehension, and syntax. 
  • Ongoing Comprehension Practice As students progress through the lesson, short comprehension questions, in a variety of formats, check their understanding of the content, and encourage active reading. At the conclusion of the lesson, students are asked to provide a short written response that connects their learning with their own experience and perspectives, presenting opportunities to express and support their points of view.

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Darcy Carlson

Professional Development Manager
Britannica Education

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Expedition: Learn! Scope & Sequence

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Expedition: Learn! Reading Levels

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