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Equity, diversity, and inclusion in Amplify Reading

Literacy is a gatekeeper to equity. Amplify recognizes how crucial it is that all students learn to read and have access to high quality literacy instruction that meets their needs and improves their literacy skills. Amplify Reading’s approach to personalization, engagement, and instruction were designed with this guiding principle in mind, alongside the understanding that it is time for a change. Literacy scores have remained low for the past 20 years in the United States, revealing the impact of an unjust educational system across lines of race and socio-economic status.

Equity, diversity, and inclusion in Amplify Reading

Literacy is a gatekeeper to equity. Amplify recognizes how crucial it is that all students learn to read and have access to high quality literacy instruction that meets their needs and improves their literacy skills. Amplify Reading’s approach to personalization, engagement, and instruction were designed with this guiding principle in mind, alongside the understanding that it is time for a change. Literacy scores have remained low for the past 20 years in the United States, revealing the impact of an unjust educational system across lines of race and socio-economic status.

Overview

Amplify Reading is a digital reading program that engages students with “high-quality” digital content that supports learning and literacy, reflects diverse experiences, feeds curiosity, and develops key social and emotional skills in a creative way. Whether students are just learning to read or mastering close reading, Amplify Reading takes students on a personalized journey to learn the skills they need to thoughtfully engage with content that respects and resonates with students. The Amplify Reading team has developed the following DEI product principles and practices that inform our content creation.

Diverse representation

Building global citizens

Preparing students to become successful twenty-first century citizens necessitates that they have both academic skills and cultural competency. Amplify Reading targets these needs by offering coverage of literacy skills and standards K–8 students must master while also delivering content with information about a diverse world.

Throughout texts in Amplify Reading, students consider the common factors that unite them to others, and they also explore and celebrate what makes each individual unique. This exposure to different histories, backgrounds, and cultures helps prepare students to be full participants in our increasingly global economy and society. It also instills in students the ability to understand and critique social inequality, further equipping them to work in a diverse, complex world.

Highlighting a breadth of experiences

Amplify Reading introduces students to a broad range of identity factors, including socio-economic status, age, ability, race, ethnicity, country of origin, religion, citizenship status, and more.

The program also builds students’ knowledge about people through different historical eras, helping them understand what connects us to our predecessors and how we remain distinct from them. Students see people who resemble them and familiar situations or experiences, but they also encounter people whose appearance, lives, beliefs, and background differ from what students have encountered or experienced. Throughout, Amplify Reading equips students to see the strengths and experiences that all people share—those things that define humanity—as they celebrate our unique identities and the breadth of our experiences.

The texts were written by a culturally diverse collection of authors and include diverse protagonists and topics to ensure that texts are relevant and relatable. Example texts from each of the grade bands that include diverse protagonists and topics are listed below. Texts are excerpts from existing literature as well as passages newly created for the program.

Sample texts across K–8

  • A Pop in Time by Vijaya Bodach
  • Why Warthog Goes About on His Knees by Mary Hertz Scarborough: a traditional Zulu story
  • The Day they Became Americans by Ann Weil
  • Four Native American Women who Shine Through History by Taylor Ramage
  • Esperanza Rising, by Pam Muñoz Ryan
  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” 1983 speech
  • Helen Keller’s “Strike Against War” 1916 speech

Equitable pedagogy

Amplify Reading is built on the conviction that equitable instruction is vital to an effective program. Literacy programs must provide all students with opportunities to achieve academic success; texts must be relevant to culturally diverse classrooms.

Amplify Reading’s adaptive content therefore provides a personalized learning path for reading skill practice with adaptive supports that allow every student, including English Language Learners and students who may be struggling to learn to read, to acquire the skills they need to be successful readers of rich, diverse, and increasingly complex content.

The instruction provided incorporates documented principles of effective instructional delivery; the activities engage students in multiple opportunities to practice critical skills at an appropriate pace with consistent feedback and prioritize student engagement and motivation, helping students to see their own growth toward reading goals. Students are provided the supports, scaffolds, and additional practice they need to learn the content. The numerous feedback moments provide opportunities for teachers to understand their students’ strengths and create a community of learners.

Amplify Reading provides students the specific supports they need while still ensuring they are learning grade level content and experiencing diverse texts. Through working with complex and challenging academic texts, all students are exposed to academic English, the language that students need to participate in content-rich discourse and, ultimately, to succeed in higher-grade content area curriculum. The program includes many research-backed features for effective vocabulary instruction, such as meaningful use of word meanings, rich language experiences, and student friendly definitions through “reveal words”—contextual definitions for targeted vocabulary words upon hover.

In addition, the comprehension instruction within Amplify Reading explicitly focuses on comprehension processes, the skills that are necessary for building a mental model or a network of ideas that readers create in their minds in order to comprehend the gist of what they are reading. Students who struggle with reading comprehension, including English language learners, often need additional practice in the underlying language and literacy skills required to create this coherent mental model.

Inclusive classroom community

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is embedded in Amplify Reading storylines and program extensions. The rich narratives that drive student engagement within the program provide a foundation for SEL, exposing students to a variety of people, community roles and responsibilities, and experiences to help them become more aware of and empathetic to differences they encounter in real life. Activities accompanying these Quests in the program reflect core SEL principles through a focus on cooperative learning, self-assessment and self-reflection, and competence and confidence building.

Following are some examples of SEL principles at work in Amplify Reading:

Identifying emotions

Attention is drawn to the emotional states and dynamics of the characters featured in Quests, including a shy character who finds a reason to be brave, and a frustrated artist who finds joy in creative inspiration. In one quest, Sam (a teenage stock-keeper in the local store) is feeling awkward and lonely because he’s too nervous to talk with people at his work; in completing the quest, the student helps him to feel more confident about his conversational skills.

Fostering empathy

Students practice perspective-taking as they use their Curioso avatar — their companion in the program—to uncover character motivations and conflicts. A main goal in several of the quests is for the student to arrive at insights about the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of a particular character (sometimes an adult, sometimes another child). These “mystery” quests are designed to help students better comprehend the psychological dynamics behind the (sometimes baffling) actions of others, and better understand how they contribute to differences among people.

Relationship skills

Amplify Reading’s storylines are set within active communities with every character having an occupation and role to play in shared community events. One big narrative arc, encompassing multiple quests, includes a play put on by the whole town, the student helps ensure that every member of the community can make a contribution. Another narrative arc is about the founding of the community. The student helps sort out facts from fiction by collecting legends, biographies, and first-person accounts. In another storyline, students help bring regions of a fictional world together by showing their communities how to work together to prosper. The culminating quests in each narrative arc focus on teamwork and leverages the student’s role as a leader in bridging and building communities.

Self-motivation and goal setting

Amplify Reading provides an encouraging and enabling environment for students to set and work toward their own goals (including developing specific reading skills).

As students develop their reading skills, they are celebrated through the development of their Curioso companion’s powers, which mirror the student’s particular achievement and provide them with more agency and problem solving powers in subsequent quests.

As students become familiar with their Curioso’s growth and the connection to their own reading skill development, Bookerton provides a view for goal setting and understanding how much growth is required to unlock the next power.

Writing from personal experience

Students write about a specific place and time in their lives, using descriptive details to reveal emotion in their personal narratives in close reading lessons as well as in post-quest extension activities. They also craft persuasive writing that requires reflection on character motivations, such as when students write a letter to a character to prove to her that she’s the leader they need to take on a challenging task.

Classroom routines and discussion materials extend the program’s ability to support students in improving their self-management skills and building a community of readers and writers. Teachers can use the SEL areas of focus for each quest as a jumping-off point for discussions about their own communities and current events.

Amplify's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

Our goal is to make education, and thereby the world, more equitable.

We create education products that celebrate difference in life and thought as well as ideals we may hold in common.

We help teachers craft rigorous learning experiences that reflect the diverse histories, cultures, and identities their students bring to the classroom.

We also help teachers support their students in constructing, questioning, expanding, and strengthening knowledge of where they come from and who they are becoming.

To do this, we hire and develop people with the broadest range of talents, life stories and experiences, and together we build a diverse and inclusive culture.