William and Mary School of Education

Jacob's Ladder Reading Comprehension Program

Intended as a supplement to the William & Mary language arts units, Jacob's Ladder targets reading comprehension skills in high ability learners. In the form of three skill ladders connected to individual readings in poetry, myths/fables, and nonfiction, students move from lower order, concrete thinking skills to higher order, critical thinking skills. For example, Ladder A moves students from Sequencing to Cause and Effect to Consequences and Implications. These materials are now available from gifted education publisher, Prufrock Press.

Grades 2-9 (Levels I, II, III, IV, and V)

The skill ladders in Jacob's Ladder correspond with the higher level, critical thinking skills targeted in the William & Mary language arts units; both are based on Paul's (1992) Reasoning Model [pdf].

Jacob’s Ladder is a learning journey for students which begins with targeted readings from fables, myths and nonfiction sources and moves through an inquiry process from basic understanding to critical analyses of the texts read. There are five levels available that are targeted to students in grades 2 to 9, but can be used at different grade levels depending on student ability. The units are designed to enhance reading comprehension. Tasks have been organized by skill ladders with questions and activities within each. Ladder rungs are organized to increase complexity in intellectual demand. The skill ladders in Jacob's Ladder correspond with the higher level, critical thinking skills targeted in the William & Mary language arts units; both are based on Paul's(1992) Elements of Reasoning model [pdf].

The teacher's guide provides an explanation of the nature and substance of supplementary tasks in reading comprehension that will help prepare students for their state assessment tests. At the same time these tasks will move them from basic reading comprehension skills to more critical reading behaviors. Also included are an overview of the goals and objectives of Jacob’s Ladder tasks and implementation suggestions.

Ladder A
Ladder B
Ladder C

Sequencing
Cause and Effect
Consequences & Implications

Details
Classification
Generalization

Elements
Inference
Theme/Concept