Into-Through-Beyond: a lesson-planning framework for using YES! in the classroom

One of the goals of our YES! For Teachers education outreach program is to help educators make the content in our magazine more accessible to their students.

We reach students mainly by connecting with teachers across a wide variety of academic disciplines and at many grade levels. Since we cannot adapt each issue to fit particular fields of study or prepare separate versions for age appropriateness, we rely on teachers to modify the material for use in the K-12 classroom.

In an effort to support teachers in the task of adapting our material we are providing a brief outline of well-known planning technique that can help teachers make YES! content more meaningful, applicable and interesting to their students. Along with sharing the technique we will also provide an example of using it with a YES! article, and then offer some specific guidelines for effective curriculum planning.

Teachers: One way to help you adapt YES! content is to organize your teaching of the article’s content using a framework. This framework is a structure that asks students to go INTO, THROUGH, and then BEYOND the material. This structure has proven to be a helpful planning template for many teachers as it can accommodate a variety of learning styles and student ability levels. First we’ll define the meaning of each component of the framework and then we’ll provide an example of the framework in action with a particular YES! article.


INTO, THROUGH, and BEYOND: A Framework to Develop Lessons with Content-Based Material.


Before introducing the new material it can be helpful to get students prepared to receive the new material – to get INTO the subject matter. Preparing students before the new material is introduced can increase their interest and motivation to learn, and create a positive and receptive atmosphere. Getting students INTO the new material can also be thought of as setting the stage for the learning experience, and it can be achieved in many ways.

Decide what preparation is necessary for students to experience the work in a meaningful way.

  • Do you need to build vocabulary?
  • Should you stimulate curiosity or empathy?
  • Is there some background information you can give about the ideas or people in the reading?
  • Should you talk through the article in advance and overview or highlight key concepts?
  • Can you relate material from previous assignments to the new material?

Decide if additional presentation methods might create interest in the material.

  • Pictures or video?
  • Storytelling?
  • Recordings or music?
  • A field trip or excursion?

Most of the activities in the INTO component of the framework are designed to draw upon the personal experiences of your students that are related to concepts in the article. Through this personal connection, the article can become more meaningful thereby increasing the likelihood that students will be more engaged and internalize more of the ideas from the reading.


After you’ve set the stage for the new material and the students are INTO it and prepared, your effort can be directed to helping them THROUGH the material. Getting students THROUGH it means helping them comprehend and explore the terms/comcepts and/or issues raised in the reading or discussion of the new material. Decide how you will help your students experience and interpret the material. A variety of means might be used to reach your students. 

  • Reading response logs (to record reactions to characters or events)
  • Relate story/text to personal experiences
  • Record questions to discuss with the group (individual or groups/teams can create questions)
  • Record examples of special or pleasing uses of language, imagery, or character/story development
  • Dramatization
  • Visualization
  • Illustrations
  • Discussion


Many assignments are finished when the reading is completed or the discussion of the new material ends. However, this can be a missed opportunity to expand and deepen your students (and your own) learning experience. Getting your students to go BEYOND the new material can be enriching, empowering and can lead to new insights and learning opportunities. Decide how you can help your students share and clarify their thinking, or deepen their understanding of the material they’ve comprehended.

  • Can they share any new insights or thoughts they’ve had about the material? (individual or group/team)
  • What activities can you (and your students) design to apply and extend their comprehension?
  • Can students work in groups or teams to think beyond the material, and take further actions? (any applications for new knowledge in the class environment, and/or in the school or community?)
  • Are there extra credit opportunities to offer as enrichment that can meet individual interests or needs?

AN EXAMPLE OF USING INTO, THROUGH, and BEYOND with YES! article “When Youth Lead” by Elise Miller & Jon Sharpe.


INTO the article: prepare students for the reading and increased comprehension of the article.

Generate a discussion by having students discuss problems that they see in their community/school/state/nation that need to be resolved. Give thinking time for students to work alone or in groups to brainstorm ideas. Model one or two ideas as a catalyst. On a board/chart/transparency cluster ideas, including your own, around the term “Problems.” Ask for clarification when needed. Keep the ideas posted and/or have students take notes. At the end of the discussion indicate that the article they are about to read of Washington State students who became successfully involved in solving problems that touched their lives.

Put the following vocabulary words/phrases on sentence strips. Then have students work in groups to “translate” or explain their understanding of what they mean. Indicate that these are terms that are found in the article that will be read. Challenge students to see if their understandings are connected to the way they are used in the reading. Students will record their ideas on a chart, present them to the class, and then post them around the room. These charts may be used as a part of a THROUGH activity to increase comprehension of the reading. The words/phrases:

  • “toxic waste”
  • “real data”
  • “chemical leak”
  • “community understanding”
  • “ask tough questions”
  • “take action”
  • “social movements”
  • “urban areas”
  • “health hazards”

Another approach to the above activity is to use longer sections from the article and have students follow a similar procedure. This approach gives students an overview of the article, fixing a pattern in their minds before they begin reading. Such an approach can lead to greater comprehension for a wider range of students. For example:

“Teens are uncovering the connections between health and the environment, discovering science as part of their lives, and taking action for their communities health.”

“The mayor uncovered a shocking story about fertilizer companies adulterating their products with toxic waste as a way of cheaply disposing of it.”

“Panelists queried the students about their work, pushing the students to engage in critical thinking.”

“One student went to city hall to check correspondence between agencies and learn about the public process that led to a scheduled clean up.”

“At first students refused to believe that school could be in session if the contamination were so bad.”

“Young people are frequently at the core of social movements that change minds and hearts, and a growing coalition of organizations is now supporting teen environmental health work.”


THROUGH the article: The activities suggested are designed to reach a range of learning styles.

Break the class into three large groups. On the board write the terms “Problem/Situation,” “Solution/Action,” and “Outcomes/Results.” Assign each group to take notes on one particular section. All students will read the entire article but take notes on only one section. The groups will meet separately to prepare a report on their findings to the class. They will select a recorder to compile their findings and a reporter(s) to speak to the class. The recorder will write the notes on the board/chart/transparency so the class can read and hear the report.

Refer back to the INTO activities to see what connections were made in their pre-reading discussions. For example: “Did the definitions they gave relate to their use in the article?” “Did the problems these students faced compare with those clustered before the reading?”

Have students circle, or list, those words/concepts which are confusing and need more discussion or examples. Create a word list that can be used on a word wall in the room, or kept in individual student vocabulary notebooks.

Have students make lists of examples of the following terms that they have found in their own lives or communities:

  • toxic wastes 
  • energized students
  • public processes 
  • critical thinking
  • environmental issues
  • deep community understanding
  • teen symposium
  • asking tough questions

BEYOND the article: Depending on time available, have students engage in individual or group activities which focus on their interests or choices.

Using problems listed in the INTO activity, have students engage in problem solution approach similar to that discussed in the article.

Have students present panel discussions which analyze issues facing them at school or in the community. They might describe the problem, possible solutions proposed/taken, and results of the action.

Creatively present a problem facing young people today that needs action. Creative forms might be drawing, drama, poetry, or music.

Have students engage in research designed to develop a bibliography; list tough questions that need to be asked; or analyze steps taken by a group to solve a social or environmental problem.

Read “When Youth Lead” by Elise Miller & Jon Sharpe.

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