Sample Lesson Plans and Guidance for Struggling Students

These pages contain sample reading intervention lesson plans from our partners and lesson plans based on the interventions used in Texas Center for Learning Disabilities 2006–2017 research for struggling readers in grades 1–5 and grades 6–8. Also included are helpful instructional resources. Research staff members developed the TCLD plans, which align with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. Additional lesson plans will be posted as they become available. To sign up for notification when new plans are posted, subscribe to our mailing list. For specific questions related to lesson plans or other TCLD work, contact us.

The elementary lesson plans focus on comprehension, word study, or phonics, based on struggling students’ different needs. In 2015, an after-school intervention program with computer instruction component was implemented. For the research study, some of the lesson plans were based on published interventions; however, the lesson plans provided here were revised to be more widely applicable.

The middle school lesson plans are based on novels used in middle school reading units, and feature research-based activities, with references to this research throughout. These lesson plans are appropriate for use with struggling readers and focus on improving reading comprehension. Research staff members developed the lesson plans, and certified teachers implemented them.

The last set of lesson plans can be used with both elementary and middle school students.


  • TCLD Sample Lesson Plans, Grades 1–5 These 11 intervention overviews and sample lesson plans illustrate instruction provided to struggling readers in elementary school (grades 1–5) as part of our 2006–2016 early intervention research. These sample lessons address students’ different needs and were implemented in Tier 2 of a response to intervention model. They are appropriate for use with struggling readers in elementary school. Lessons focus on comprehension, word study, or phonics. In 2015, an after-school intervention program with computer instruction component was implemented. 
  • Word Recognition and Fluency: Interventions for Upper-Elementary Students With Reading Difficulties These lesson plans reach word recognition skills and strategies in a systematic way with repeated practice exercises. Lessons 1 through 9 are for students who have not yet mastered basic sounds and blending sounds in words. Lessons 10 through 17 contain strategies for reading multisyllabic words, beginning with easier word types before moving on to more advanced concepts.
  • Vocabulary and Comprehension: Interventions for Upper-Elementary Students With Reading Difficulties These lesson plans present a set of reading comprehension strategies including identifying key vocabulary words.
  • Reading Strategies and Activities for Students at Risk for Reading Difficulties, Including Dyslexia This resource book presents sets of instructional strategies for beginning reading and is designed for classroom teachers to use with students who are at risk for reading difficulties, including dyslexia. When students struggle with learning to read, they need additional instruction focused on the areas causing them difficulty. These areas, the “big ideas” of beginning reading and literacy, include the concepts and principles that facilitate the most efficient and broadest acquisition of knowledge (Carnine, 1994): phonological awareness, including phonemic awareness; alphabetic understanding; fluency; vocabulary; and comprehension (National Reading Panel, 2000).
  • Essential Reading Strategies for Struggling Readers: Activities for an Accelerated Reading Program This manual provides activities for supplemental instruction in instructional areas that research has identified as critical to early reading success (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). These instructional elements include: phonological awareness; fluent reading in a variety of texts; comprehension strategies and vocabulary development; decoding strategies; and word analysis. To improve their reading proficiency, students who struggle with reading need intensive, systematic, and explicit instruction in these areas in addition to their regular classroom reading instruction. The activities in this manual are intended to supplement to the regular classroom reading program and to provide the additional practice struggling readers need to develop basic reading strategies.
  • Beginning Reading Instruction: Components and Features of a Research-Based Reading Program This first booklet in the “Red Book” series on the five components of research-based reading instruction developed by the Texas Student Success Initiative describes an effective elementary reading program, including 12 essential instructional components, eight campus-level features, and eight instructional features related to struggling readers.

Middle School

  • Reading Instruction for Middle School Students: Developing Lessons for Improving Comprehension This guide is designed for teachers and provides detailed information about some of the lesson plans used in Tier 2 intervention for struggling readers in middle school as part of the research efforts of the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities (TCLD). This guide describes each component of instruction, and provides instructions, sample scripts, and planning templates so that teachers can develop similar lesson plans that align with their own state standards and adopted curricula.
  • Any Small Goodness
    Lessons for Improving Comprehension Through Any Small Goodness by Tony Johnston This set of plans is to be used with the novel Any Small Goodness by Tony Johnston. Any Small Goodness is a work of fiction about an adolescent boy, Arturo, who moves to Los Angeles from Mexico with his family. The story describes the family adapting to their new neighborhood. Although life in the new neighborhood presents challenges, Arturo learns about acts of “small goodness” that come to define his experience.
  • Iqbal
    Lessons for Improving Comprehension Through Iqbal by Francesco D’Adamo This set of plans is to be used with the novel Iqbal by Francesco D’Adamo. Iqbal is an historical novel about child slavery in Pakistan. Early in the book, readers meet Iqbal Masih, who was sold into slavery by his debt-ridden family and worked in a carpet factory. Working conditions were terrible and Iqbal’s repeated attempts to escape are thwarted until he meets the leader of the Bonded Liberation Front of Pakistan. Finally, Iqbal is freed from his master and works tirelessly until his death to free children and speak out against slavery.
  • Effective Instruction for Middle School Students With Reading Difficulties: The Sourcebook The chapters in this sourcebook provide reading teachers with research-based instructional approaches to reading text in grades 6, 7, and 8.
  • Academic Vocabulary for Fifth- to Seventh-Grade English Language Learners in Texas This booklet is a resource for classroom teachers in Texas who work with the English language learner population. Words included were selected from the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills to identify vocabulary that will help students learn content and skills represented on statewide assessments. Comprehensive word lists and grade-level word lists are included for English language arts and reading and mathematics.

Elementary and Middle School

  • Sight Word Fluency Lists These lesson materials can help students with sight word fluency and word recognition skills. With these materials, students practice reading sight word lists for 3 to 7 minutes several days per week. 
  • Does It Make Sense (DIMS)? Students are asked to determine whether statements make sense and, if not, to identify the words that show why a statement doesn’t make sense.
  • Reading Self-Monitoring Form This reading self-monitoring form allows students to set goals before reading, monitor their progress while reading, and reflect on their progress after reading.