An Introduction to Literacy Design Collaborative

Through Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC), I realized when we raise the level of content by boosting active learning and increasingu2026

Heather Lacey Sampselle is an elementary school teacher and passionate, forward-thinking educator. She currently lives in Frederick, Maryland and is pursuing her master’s degree while working as an educational consultant. She has been an active member of the Brevard Federation of Teachers and Frederick County Teachers Association.

My journey with LDC began years ago when I found myself stressed, strapped for time, and unable to develop and design lessons in a way students deserve I taught a social studies lesson because it was the next essential question that needed to be answered, or the next standard I had to cover.

I was in no way offering my students the experiences they deserved to truly understand the concepts. I wasn’t walking away feeling that they truly got it, that they could develop questions to study further, or that they would even remember that lesson. This revelation finally hit me when I was using the textbook (don’t cringe!) to review Mesopotamia.

Fast forward to my first experience teaching a two-week LDC module — one developed with the end in mind, using a backward design approach. The LDC tools, templates, and instructional procedures helped me better understand why the performance of my students was lower than my expectations. It was all due to the task I was assigning.

A common phrase within LDC is “task predicts perfor- mance,” and it could not ring more true. I realized when we raise the level of by boosting active learning and increasing teacher skills, the outcome is systemic change. For me, this was about bringing reading and writing into my science and social studies classes. Since scientists and historians are reading and writing specific texts, shouldn’t our students be reading and writing them as well? LDC allows me to do just that. This was my rationale for using some of my classroom writing time to incorporate scientific articles, or using science time to read and write before prepping for our hands-on experiment.

Another “aha!” moment in this journey was the need for collaboration. The term “collaborative” in LDC’s name intentionally frames the work behind each of the lessons, mini-tasks, and tasks created.

As a teacher here in Maryland, I was working closely with several Florida teachers through LDC to develop tasks appropriate for the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards to help me teach them in my classroom. I also worked with teachers in my grade level, and other teachers within our school, to develop modules that offer a reading standard, writing standard, and content standard that work together.

Having other team members help make this decision, based on what our grade level or school chose to focus on, helped me understand that each of these standards can support one another by offering students the type of intentional thinking we want them to have.

An LDC task not only guides the content you want students to grapple with, but will focus on the thinking students will do while reading the texts and how the student writing will be organized.

This is not about using LDC — it’s about implementing standards-driven instruction. LDC is a mechanism for lifting the level of instruction for all students in all zip codes. It asks teachers to develop our capacities as instructional leaders while raising students’ skills in reading and writing com- plex texts with intentional and deliberate purpose.

If you’d like access to the free library of standards-driven lessons to design or share assignments, view the LDC CoreTools, or see sample curricula for every grade and subject, visit