Not a member yet? Register now and get started.

lock and key

Sign in to your account.

Account Login

Forgot your password?

Accelerating Literacy For Adolescents (ALFA) Lab


ALFA stands for Accelerating Literacy For Adolescents. ALFA is a reading enrichment program for freshman students who enter high school with a reading proficiency that is significantly below grade level standards. ALFA offers opportunities for these students to work in small groups with support to boost their motivation to read, frequency of reading, and reading and writing achievement.

  • The lab is a daily class for one semester (or every other day throughout the whole year for schools with A/B schedules).
  • Sections are limited to no more than 24 students.
  • The ALFA lab teacher has an assistant to facilitate small group work.
  • Curricular materials are organized so that the lab works well both in schools that have 45-55 minute class periods and those that have extended periods of 70-100 minutes.
  • Students are assigned to the ALFA lab based on a cut score from a reading inventory assessment. 

Students receive brief, whole‐class instruction and then rotate among several satellite stations (in groups of 4-6):

  1. The Main Station guides students into, through, and beyond reading selections from the core text. In this station, the teacher introduces key words, builds and activates background knowledge, and models effective use of reading strategies of these texts.
  2. The Wordology station reinforces word knowledge and provides meaningful and relevant activities that increase students’ exposure to age-appropriate vocabulary. Students work in small peer groups to complete activities that facilitate the recall and application of word parts, word meaning, and vocabulary in context.
  3. The Collaboration Station engages students in collaborative activities that require them to construct and apply knowledge. Students work in small peer groups to read text and respond to text‐based questions, organize text information, use graphic organizers, examine vocabulary in the context of reading, and complete a variety of specific writing tasks.
  4. The Media Madness station strengthens students’ reading fluency and integration of literacy skills (e.g., listening, reading, writing, and viewing).  Students work in small peer groups to listen to audiobooks (while reading along) and respond to text‐related questions; use software to reinforce word knowledge, comprehension, and writing skills; use the Internet to research information to complete tasks; and create products intended for different audiences and purposes.

ALFA’s multicultural curriculum materials include high-interest readings and associated activities for three units (each designed for 30 class periods).  Each unit is centered around an essential question.  As students explore these questions, they learn about themselves, the world, and how to shape the future. Each unit includes time for students to complete an independent or collaborative project choosing from different media (e.g., digital presentation, podcast, short video, trifold poster or 3-D model, creative or non-fiction writing project, or game).

  • Feisty Felines  — This unit gives students the opportunity to learn everything they want to know about big cats of various kinds from across the world: from Africa’s lions and black panthers to North American cougars, to the tigers of Asia and Central America’s jaguars.   The unit’s essential question — What are the effects of human interaction with wild animals? — leads students to consider the impacts of habitat destruction and environmental changes on big cats and other animals, as well as those engaged in addressing these challenges.
  • Heroes — This unit’s essential question – How do heroes make a difference? – guides students to learn about culturally diverse heroes who have made a substantial difference in our world. The unit uses an imaginary superhero, Black Panther, as a bridge to real heroes: the Navajo code talkers and Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, military nurses during the Vietnam War, the first responders of 9/11, Cesar Chavez and Deloris Huerta, and Malala. Each student also chooses a hero from among those featured in the Heroes Critical Reading Series to explore independently. Students prepare brief presentations about their chosen heroes.
  • Galaxy — This unit’s essential question is, What are the benefits and possible drawbacks of humans exploring the galaxy? Readings investigate whether we could survive and thrive on other planets, where else we might live, the motives for (and history of) space exploration, the diverse hidden or well-known figures who have played key roles in making space exploration (and the budding space tourism industry) possible, and poems, prose, and science fiction about space. Independent projects offer students an opportunity to further explore real-life or imaginary space exploits and heroes.