Protherough’s Stages & Progression Building

High Fives are awesome, and can be used to teach Protherough's stages of learning.

This 25 minute lesson is intended for teachers to show them how a progression works and how literacy and other skills can be broken into steps to aid their students and themselves. It also delves into Protherough’s stages of learning and can be taught in conjunction with its mentor text, “The Range of Activities” in Developing a Response to Fiction (pp.184-199).
(Estimated Running Time: 22-25 Minutes)


Teachers will be able to identify the steps of a progression by combining steps on notecards into a progression.

Essential Question(s):

How do you teach a task or skill?

  • Teaching something requires teachers not only to know how to do something, but how to learn it.
  • A task or skill can be broken into steps or stages.
  • By breaking something into steps, teachers can see where different students are in their learning.
  • Moving progressively toward a goal allows teachers to adjust to their students on the fly.


Required materials are normal text, recommended but not required materials are italicized

  • Hands
  • Notecards with a few of Protherough’s stages listed, one task per notecard
  • Good attitudes
  • “The Range of Activities” by Robert Protherough, Developing a Response to Fiction (pp.184-199)

Inquiry Exercise:

(3 Minutes)
What does progressive mean?

Introduction to New Material:

(2 Minutes)
Protherough forwards a theory that includes 6 stages of reading, analyzing and responding to a text. These stages are:

  1. Pre-reading activities
  2. Reading
  3. Emphasizing personal response
  4. The first sharing
  5. Developing and structuring response
  6. Synthesizing responses

The first two steps set us up to learn a the skill of literacy, and the sixth step is effectively what schools have traditionally expected. The middle steps, however, are key to learning a skill. Today, we’re going to learn to do high fives! We’re going to this by breaking down the act into steps, examining how we feel and react, and sharing the experience while we codify and structure high fives.

Guided Practice:

(5 Minutes)
I know you’ve probably all given a high five or two before, but we’re going to go through this as if we didn’t know. Additionally, I’m going to teach you a trick that, if you didn’t already know it, will take your high fives from lame to game!

  1. Partner up.
  2. Practice a low five, where one person holds out their hand and the other hits it. Figure out how hard is good, how solid is desireable. Note the sound and impact. Remember, in a high five, both hands will be moving meaning twice the force.
  3. With hand raised to should height, put your hands together palm against each other at your desired contact point.
  4. High five the air, so we don’t have injuries. Watch each other and think about what your partner is doing well.
  5. Consider the elbow and how it’s working. This is your next level Pro Tip: if you stare at your partner’s elbow when you high five, you’ll nail it nearly every time.
  6. Take it to a full high five! Let’s see how we’ve done.

There are numerous next level high fives, from high tens using both hands, to high fives in which we swing it back around and get a reverse high five on the down swing. If you and your partner are bored with a standard high five, consider the variations. Every student is different, so be prepared to let some students dwell at a specific stage where they need more work or take them the next level.

We’ve just gone through a six step progression for high fives in order. You should be able to see how each step builds on the last toward a high five.

Individual Practice:

(10 Minutes)
Now, we’re going to breaking down reading in the same way. While we won’t be working through a progression, we’re going to look at a few of the progressions that Protherough lists and see if we can’t put them back together and figure out which step goes with which.

In front of you you have a notecard with a task listed on it. The task matches up with one step in a six step progression. Take a look at it, think about it and  consider how it could help someone learn to read. Your goal is to find the other five steps in your progression by moving and collect with them. You can’t have two of the same steps in a group and everyone must find a group. Ready? Go!

Once students have grouped up, ask them to write down their progression with one or two sentences explaining how it flows. This can be collected as the exit ticket assessment.


(2 Minutes)
The text, unlike the note cards, have nearly 100 example activities organized by stage. Protherough spends a lot of time noting that things like individual journals and book response notebooks provide students a chance to use reflect and connect with a text more concretely and are often overlooked.

Once you understand Protherough’s steps, there are an infinite number of ways to traverse them if you simply use your creativity. Additionally, by practicing these steps, students should be able to build toward analyzing a text and formulating topic ideas for a paper.

Now, before we end I have one final request: I need a high five from each and every one of you! You know, to make sure you learned!