Conference Agenda

The Reading League’s 6th Annual Conference Agenda

Conference Schedule

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Early Arrival

Pre-registration at Oncenter
4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

The Right to Read – Private Movie Screening
5:30 PM – 7:00 PM

Thursday, October 20, 2022


Opening Address
10:10 AM – 10:30 AM

Life, Learning, and the Pursuit of Reading: The 18-year journey
Dr. Shawn Anthony Robinson

Doctor Dyslexia Dude (DDD) is the story of a young Black boy who wanted to learn, but dyslexia prevented his access to literacy. His superpowers remained hidden, and he had limited access to the science of reading instruction. This presentation will identify ways we can provide access for our students with hidden superpowers. It will set the stage for learning by providing access to the science-based approaches to reading, as well as provide ‘access portals’ to learning through meaningful and relevant human relationships.

Shawn Robinson

Shawn Anthony Robinson Ph.D. is a full-time reading instructor at Madison College, a Senior Research Associate in the Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, co-founder of Doctor Dyslexia Dude, and serves on the inaugural advisory council of Benetech. Robinson has over 40 peer-reviewed publications and received several distinguished honors throughout his career such as: the 2017 Alumni Achievement Award/New Trier High School Alumni Hall of Honor; the 2016 Outstanding Young Alumni Award from UWO; and received “Educator of the Year” from All-State Insurance (Chicago) 2005. Robinson is a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Opening Keynote
10:30 AM – 11:30 AM

Delivering on the Promise of the Science of Reading for All Learners
Dr. Nicole Patton Terry

If the science of reading is the solution, then why are so many Black and Brown children not reading well in school? Reconciling the science with the lived experiences of children who are vulnerable to poor academic achievement in school and the brilliance they bring to the learning environment may be requisite to unlocking the transformative innovation needed to ensure that every child can read and succeed in school.

Nicole Patton Terry

Nicole Patton Terry, PhD., is the Olive & Manuel Bordas Professor of Education in the School of Teacher Education, Director of the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR), and Director of the Regional Education Lab—Southeast at Florida State University (FSU). Prior to joining FSU in 2018, she was an Associate Professor of Special Education and the founding Director of the Urban Child Study Center at Georgia State University. She founded The Village at FCRR, a division that takes a collective impact approach to creating and maintaining research partnerships with diverse community stakeholders to promote reading achievement, school readiness, and school success among vulnerable children and youth. She currently serves as vice president for the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Associate Editor for the Journal of Learning Disabilities, and a member of the National Academies’ Committee on the Future of Education Research at the Institute of Education Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education. Dr. Terry earned a Ph.D. from Northwestern University’s School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, with a specialization in learning disabilities, in 2004. She was as a special education teacher in Evanston Public Schools in Evanston, IL. Dr. Terry’s research, innovation, and engagement activities concern young learners who are vulnerable to experiencing poor language and literacy achievement in school, in particular, African American children, children growing up in poverty, and children with disabilities. Her research and scholarly activities have been supported by various organizations, including the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Institute of Education Sciences, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation.

Breakout Session #1
11:45 AM – 12:45 PM

The Science of Decodables: Why? When? How?
Dr. Heidi Anne Mesmer

Decodable texts are essential for reading instruction. Yet, they vary in quality because the label is overused. The presenter will provide research-based definitions of decodable texts along with tips for evaluating decodables on the market. Both examples and non-examples of different types of decodables will be shared. Effectively using a decodable means more than just placing them in readers’ hands. Reviewing the empirical literature, the presenter will provide six instructional essentials for using decodable texts. Last, the presenter will highlight an important and undervalued text feature for beginning readers and show educators how to look for this feature.

Phonemic Awareness Phacts and Phun
Dr. Lucy Hart Paulson

Phonemic awareness is a vital foundation in learning to read and write. Developmental research across several decades has determined a developmental skill progression beginning before birth. With advances in neuroimaging, science has established deeper understandings of these important phonological and phonemic foundations. This session describes 1) the PHacts of phonological and phonemic awareness skills within the scope of phonological processing along with the interconnected nature of phonological representation and phonological sensitivity; 2) phonological and phonemic awareness skill development and age expectations; and 3) a Phew Phun strategies to help students develop these important skills.

Assessment of Dyslexia: Constructs and Challenges
Dr. Nancy Mather

In this session, the presenter will address the definition of dyslexia and the importance of assessing specific cognitive and linguistic constructs, as well as the specific areas of decoding, spelling, and reading fluency. In order to make appropriate recommendations for providing a student with evidence-aligned reading instruction, evaluators have to first understand a student’s present developmental levels and the reasons why a student is struggling. Some students require specific instruction in phonics, whereas others need to increase their reading rate. Assessment results clarify a student’s specific instructional needs. In addition, the presenter will review several challenges that confront evaluators when attempting to assess a student for dyslexia, including the current identification procedures under IDEA 2004, the recognition of additional cognitive correlates beyond phonological awareness, the difficulty with early identification, and the existence of co-occurring disorders such as ADHD and language impairments.

The Writing Rope: A Framework for Evidence-Based Writing Instruction
Joan Sedita

Many teachers do not recognize that evidence-based, effective writing instruction must address multiple components. These components are represented as strands in a rope in The Writing Rope framework (Sedita, 2019) that is the basis for this session. The session will begin with a summary of the research on effective writing instruction across grades 3-12 with related resource links. Then, an overview of the five strands in The Writing Rope will be provided: 1) Critical Thinking (generating ideas and information, stages of the writing process), 2) Syntax (syntactic awareness, sentence elaboration, punctuation), 3) Text Structure (narrative, informational, opinion; paragraph structure; patterns of organization, 4) Writing Craft (awareness of task, audience, purpose; use of mentor models; word choice, and 5) Transcription (spelling and handwriting fluency). Classroom teachers, interventionists, literacy coaches, and administrators can use this framework to determine if writing curricula and/or programs are aligned with all the components of research-based writing instruction.

Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices
Lisa Klein

Participants will develop an understanding of the literacy instruction needs of students in grades 5-12. Topics include adolescent literacy defined, research on effective reading/writing instruction across multiple tiers of instruction, a literacy assessment model for grades 5-12, teaching strategies for content literacy in all subjects (vocabulary, comprehension, writing about content), causes of difficulty for older students including dyslexia and executive function, and recommendations for interventions that target individual student needs.

Filling in the Gaps: Implementing the Science of Reading in the Secondary Classroom
Leslie Zoroya
Jessica Sullivan

Despite the push to get students reading by third grade, the reality is that skilled reading requires explicit reading instruction well beyond third grade. But let’s face it. As a whole, reading instruction in the secondary classroom isn’t meeting the mark. Secondary reading scores have been stagnant throughout the U.S. for decades. Scaffolds, read-alouds, graphic organizers, or other compensatory strategies are not going to fill the gaps in our older struggling readers. But we know the solution! We have to start by taking ownership of the problem and seeing ourselves as part of the solution as secondary educators. And we also must implement targeted and explicit instruction in the discrete skills of reading, even after third grade. Join as we dive into how the science of reading applies to a secondary classroom and discuss the ‘symptoms” and solutions for common issues in older readers.

Breakout Session #2
1:50 PM – 2:50 PM

Word Analysis for Adolescence
Dr. Shawn Anthony Robinson

Access to best literacy practices must be made available to all families, especially those from lower socioeconomic communities, and household income should not exclude families from having access to high-quality instruction/strategies for analyzing and encoding words (Westwood, 2008). Through online learning, students are provided an innovative approach to address literacy through preparing adolescents with high quality evidence-based instruction that is usually reversed for pre-service and in-service teachers and early elementary level (Adams, 1990; Moats, 2020; Seidenberg, 2017; & Wolf, 2007). The course provides students with an overview of word analysis, emphasizes reading instruction that uses a simultaneous multi-sensory approach, offers them a rare opportunity to improve decoding and encoding skills, and to use the phonemic sound structure of the American-English language to students who would not otherwise have in high school or thereafter (Sabatini, 2009). Audience members will go through an actual lesson that is taught to students in the word analysis course.

Instruction That Can Change the Brain: Building Neural Pathways for Skilled Reading
Judith Dodson

Can teachers be a brain surgeon in their own classrooms? Our instructional choices can build neural pathways in a student’s brain. These pathways create a highway in the “reading brain” that support the development of orthographic mapping. These critical connections are what is needed for reading to become effortless. The gift for reading teachers is their ability to make instructional choices that can make a difference. This session will prepare you to understand WHY and HOW specific, engaging classroom activities can change the brains of young readers. Teachers will learn how to implement these brain building activities that can support reading automaticity and leave room in the brain for comprehension, opening the door to a lifetime of reading enjoyment.

Shining a Light on Dyslexia Screeners: The Pros and the Cons
Dr. Michelle Storie
Dr. Laurice Joseph
Dr. James McDougal
Theresa Gillespie
Lauren Guilds

Early identification of children at risk of reading failure may lead to providing effective instruction and intervention so that problems are addressed and remediated. One screening method that has shown promise over the past several years is the use of brief rating scales for identifying students at risk for severe reading problems. Brief rating scales are easy to administer, require minimal time to complete, and are low cost. Yet, are these scales effective in identifying at-risk children, youth and adults? What are the strengths and limitations of these measures? Do these measures align with what we know about the Science of Reading? This presentation will provide a review and critical appraisal of rating scales and their utility for dyslexia screening. Best practices for using dyslexia screeners within the context of multi-tiered support systems (MTSS) for delivering evidence-based reading instruction will also be addressed.

Attending to Working Memory in the Word Analysis Phase
Janee’ Butler

This session will empower educators to know proper supports, skills, and instructional tools needed to support working memory to achieve sight word recognition. Working memory is often weak in young students due to attention span or the lack of prerequisite skills. What educators do as information enters working memory is essential to whether the information is stored into long-term memory. The intent is to provide educators, school leaders, and instructional support teams a new lens through which to view information processing skills related to reading instruction, proposing what instructional tools are paramount to producing accurate word reading fluency. Explaining the connections of working memory to where phoneme-grapheme associations are formed will give stakeholders a strategic design for word analysis skills and lessons.

The Science of Reading and English Language Learners
Lavinia Mancuso

The Science of Reading applies most urgently to English Language Learners (ELLS). ELLS benefit from direct, explicit instruction in both language and literacy. Research confirms that with appropriate instruction, ELLs can outperform the general population. This session will present the current data on the varieties and complexities of English Language Learners, and the instructional strategies that enable their success.

No Time to Waste: The Science of Reading for Young Adults
Julie Burtscher Brown
Sherry Sousa

What does “the science of reading” mean to struggling young-adult readers? Can foundational literacy instruction respect the dignity of teenagers? What does such a program actually look like and where can a high school begin? Educators will engage with an evidence-based lesson through the lens of an adolescent emerging reader in this hands-on workshop. Successful instructional strategies designed specifically for older students with unique social and emotional needs will be modeled by a special educator. Outcomes and anecdotes will be shared, with an emphasis on success and respect. Aspects of leadership are discussed by a pioneering superintendent whose dedication to equity led to the first public high school structured literacy program in her state. Reflections from adolescents will highlight the central role reading plays in building belonging, inspiring educators and administrators to meet the needs of struggling older students with urgency, expertise, compassion, and joy.

Breakout Session #3
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

The Power of How: Using Instructional Routines to Maximize Student Learning
Dr. Pamela Kastner
Erin Eighmy
Tambra Isenberg

This session provides research that underpins the power of instructional routines to maximize student learning. Presenters will model instructional routines related to word recognition and language comprehension with embedded practice opportunities for participants. The design and delivery of this session places an emphasis on translating research-to-practice for practitioners. Participants leave with a tool-kit of instructional resources.

The Grammar/Text Generation Connection
Lyn Stone

The word ‘grammar’ comes with connotations of dry, boring pedantry. Its importance in a primary curriculum has been questioned for many years, and the answer has been disappointing (to grammar-loving folk anyway). Formal grammar teaching beyond “A noun is a naming word, a verb is a doing word” has all but left building, but Lyn Stone wants to bring it back in. In this talk, Lyn Stone presents an argument that knowing what the parts of speech are really doing, why they’re put in their categories in the first place, and how to teach all that is an advantage to any teacher committed to raising the quality of writing instruction in the classroom.

The Importance of Dual Language Assessment in Early Literacy
Dr. Lillan Durán

Assessing Spanish-speaking students in their native language is central to leveling the playing field and empowering them on their literacy journey. In this session, biliteracy expert Dr. Lillian Durain (University of Oregon) discusses how dual language assessment in both English and Spanish enables teachers to pinpoint where their dual language learners really are in their skill development and what instruction to prioritize. Dr. Durain will examine the long-standing opportunity gaps between Spanish-speaking students and their monolingual English-speaking peers, including factors that influence why Latino/a students who come from primarily Spanish-speaking families demonstrate lower reading performance than their English-speaking counterparts. She will discuss why early identification of reading difficulties is an important part of addressing the needs of the Latino/a population. Therefore, accurate assessment is needed in both English and Spanish in order to provide the appropriate level of instructional support.

Where the Science of Learning Meets the Science of Reading: Unpacking the Evidence
Dr. Marisa Ramirez Stukey
Dr. Lenora Forsythe
Andreia Simon

This session will empower educators to know proper supports, skills, and instructional tools needed to support working memory to achieve sight word recognition. Working memory is often weak in young students due to attention span or the lack of prerequisite skills. What educators do as information enters working memory is essential to whether the information is stored into long-term memory. The intent is to provide educators, school leaders, and instructional support teams a new lens through which to view information processing skills related to reading instruction, proposing what instructional tools are paramount to producing accurate word reading fluency. Explaining the connections of working memory to where phoneme-grapheme associations are formed will give stakeholders a strategic design for word analysis skills and lessons.

Implementing a New High Quality Literacy Curriculum? How to Avoid the ” Balanced Literacy Hangover”
Brent Conway
Jen Hogan

On the heels of multiple reports and reviews of some widely used literacy programs, many districts are realizing they need to update their programs and tools. This is an exciting time for districts and staff, especially for those who recognize the importance of Tier 1 curriculum that is based on the science of reading. The successful implementation of high quality literacy programs depends on a leadership team that is prepared with a plan and understands the context of where the district is and what needs to be done to meet student outcome goals. Brent Conway, the Assistant Superintendent for Pentucket Regional Schools in Massachusetts, and Jen Hogan, Literacy and Humanities Coach and Coordinator for Pentucket, will walk participants through the steps Pentucket took to move from a reader’s workshop model to implementing a tiered literacy plan, using high quality curricula.

Equitable Approaches to Reading Instruction
Altheria Caldera

Many scholars and practitioners who are concerned about equity in reading instruction express reservations about some of the scientific approaches to teaching reading. Specifically, they claim that students of color and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds– who mainly attend schools in urban areas– are subjected to “skill and drill” reading instruction that lacks criticality and decontextualization. These are valid concerns to which teachers of our most disadvantaged students should certainly be aware. Still, teachers must not abandon the teaching of integral foundational reading skills that are the keys to unlocking higher-level reading competencies. In this presentation, I will explain why it’s important for teachers to embrace a “both/and” approach to reading instruction that includes both instructions in foundational reading skills and deep consideration of complex texts. Participants will learn practical strategies for doing “both/and”.

Friday, October 21, 2022


Breakout Session #4
9:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Shining a Light on the Sentence: The Integral Role that Syntax Plays in Text Comprehension
Nancy Eberhardt
Dr. Margie Gillis

Children are not literate if they cannot understand text. Beyond mastering code-breaking skills, beginning readers must learn to process text meaning. Syntactic knowledge including learning the eight grammatical elements, understanding text cohesive devices, and the role of phrases to develop prosody all contribute to comprehending text. This session focuses on the function-based roles of the grammatical elements and how their syntactical arrangement create meaning. Presenters demonstrate instructional activities and engage participants in practicing different methods of instruction that support students grammatical and syntactic skills. The activities use both narrative and informational text to acknowledge the role that text structure plays in comprehension as well as the types of sentences that students encounter in each.

Using MTSS to Bring the Science of Reading to Light: How to Improve Reading Outcomes Against All Odds
Dr. Stephanie Stollar
Sharon Dunn
Diane Bryson
Laura Stewart

How do we prepare our most vulnerable elementary students to read? How do we begin? This session is urgent and timely. Now, more than ever, we must double-down on instructional practices that are proven to accelerate student learning in reading; it is about equity of instruction. In this session, administrators and teachers will learn how to use Structured Literacy in a MTSS model to build capacity to improve reading outcomes through the science of reading. Find out how a low performing school significantly improved reading outcomes, going from 28% proficient in kindergarten to 93% of sixth-grade students reading accurately and fluently. Participants will gain information on how to begin a school and/or district-wide plan to inform instruction and improve reading outcomes for all students. Now is the time to innovate, develop a plan, commit to preventing reading failure, and create hope for our students.

Transforming Evidence Into Practice for Reading and Spelling Instruction: A Descriptive Study of Six Victorian Schools in Australia
Dr. Tanya Serry
Dr. Pamela Snow

Debate has persisted for decades regarding how children should be taught to read. Over the last decade, a small number of Victorian schools (Australia) have begun to implement a Structured Literacy approach to reading and spelling instruction. In this study, we sought to understand the processes associated with this transformation by interviewing 28 staff across six schools that were involved in this transformation process. Five major processes found to be pivotal to this transformation were identified. Overwhelmingly, participants noted that any change to pedagogical practices requires a cultural shift alongside the implementation phase and taken together, change takes time and involves key processes over a number of years. In addition, consistency in instructional practices across the school, from Tier 1 instruction to Tier 3 intervention, was perceived as paramount. In this presentation, we discuss our findings and key recommendations for school leaders who are considering this transformation at their school.

What is Reading? What’s the “Go of It”?
Dr. Stephen Truch

What is reading and how DO we learn to read? The presenter will discuss some basic principles of scientific investigation and how they apply to uncovering the complexities of decoding, spelling, and comprehension. Practical guidelines and strategies from dual-coding principles and, in particular, use of visualization are provided for potential use in classroom and remedial settings. In terms of decoding instruction, a distinction between “typically developing,” “accomplished,” and “delayed” readers is made. Clinical outcome data from remediation of reading and spelling variables for students with varying “degrees of delay” in these areas is presented. “Speech to print” and “print to speech” approaches are contrasted and specific examples of how to introduce phonemes and letters from each approach follows.

Hidden in Plain Sight: A Decoding Singularity that Reveals the Transparency of English Orthography
Dr. Alicia Roberts Frank
Dr. Louis Gates

There is no doubt of the importance of the ability to decode individual words in order to access their meaning and comprehend what is being read. Teaching decoding, however, has been historically challenged by the complexity of English orthography. The discovery of the Decoding Table unexpectedly revealed the statistical regularity that was previously hidden in plain sight. In contrast to the popular belief in the opacity of the system of English symbol-sound correspondences, the Decoding Table illuminates an incredible high transparency for those connections. This interactive session will share the high predictability between English graphemes and phonemes through the organization of the Decoding Table. The presenters will include strategies and techniques for understanding and teaching decoding to beginning, dysfluent, and dyslexic readers.

Developing Translation Skills Across the Curriculum: Best Practices for Diverse Learners
Nicole Kingsland

With limited semantic and syntactic proficiency, diverse learners often struggle in reading and writing tasks. This interactive session explores best practices for developing translation skills across content areas, including a four-part approach to vocabulary instruction and effective sentence composition instruction. The overall goal of the session is that attendees will recognize writing challenges linked to translation skill deficits and respond with research-informed best practices. Moving forward, they may be more proactive and systematic in their approach to teaching these skills across content areas. All attendees will have access to printable activities for immediate classroom application.

Breakout Session #5
10:10 AM – 11:10 AM

Providing Reading Interventions for Students in Grades 4-9: What research tells us
Dr. Anita Archer

Do you have intermediate and secondary students that are still not reading accurately and fluently with good comprehension? In this session, Dr. Archer will review the major recommendations of the Educator’s Practice Guide recently released by the Institute of Education Sciences. These evidence-based recommendations include: building students’ decoding skills so they can read complex multi-syllabic words, providing purposeful fluency-building activities, and utilizing a number of research-validated comprehension practices. Join us on this webinar and gain insights into the research on reading intervention for older struggling readers. Dr. Archer will provide practical examples for each of these recommendations.

Improving Preservice Training and Striving Reader Outcomes Using an Evidence-based Program
Dr. Katharine Pace-Miles

Presenters will discuss how, in the midst of Covid-19, they reshaped preservice teacher training for students enrolled in literacy courses. By training preservice teachers in a free, high dosage, evidence-based intervention program and pairing them remotely with a striving 1st or 2nd grade reader, the co-presenters bridged the university to practice divide. In the 2020-2021 school year, 184 preservice teachers were trained and paired with a striving reader in a DOE school with low ELA proficiency scores. In the midst of the pandemic, when students were facing immense learning loss, students in this program demonstrated gains in foundational literacy skills. Results will also address tutor proficiency growth (fidelity to the program) and tutoring experience satisfaction. Discussion will address learnings on how schools can partner with local universities for evidence-based tutoring that benefits both preservice teachers and DOE students.

The Power of Early Intervention, Implementing Multi-Tiered Systems of Support in Preschool
Dr. Amy Murdoch
Rosie Warburg
Maria Aielli

Implementation of MTSS in early childhood settings offers the unique opportunity to support children from the very start of schooling, ensuring their needs are being met, and preventing later failure. In this session, participants will learn about conducting systems-level problem solving to create or refine MTSS in preschool settings. The session will discuss how to strengthen all tiers of support in preschool, assessments for guiding instructional decision-making, supporting teachers’ professional learning, and implementing meaningful family engagement activities. The results from two ongoing research projects involving MTSS in preschool will be discussed: Project Ready! and an OSEP Model Demonstration Project for Early Identification and Supports of Students with Dyslexia. Key materials from these projects will be shared — MTSS analysis and planning tool; core instruction and intervention materials; assessment & evaluation tools; and family engagement activities.

What is Oral Language? Let’s Build the Understanding of Oral Language and the Connection and Impact on Student Writing
Dr. Allison Peck

This session will allow teachers, parents, and administrators to understand how the simple act of including structured oral language activities in their daily routine and across content areas can improve student writing abilities. Using daily 5-10 minute activities of naming, describing, listening to a story, and practicing the retelling of that story in an intentional way to infuse vocabulary and complete sentences is a way to have students build their background knowledge and own their words. The practice of oral narration, especially before writing, can create successful writers through a practice of strategies that build confidence. We can help our students become great writers with thoughtful planning and understanding the importance of oral language.

How the Reading Brain Learns to Spell: Instruction and Assessment
Dr. Shelley Blackwell

Making the shift from teaching and assessing spelling in a pre-test/memorize/post-test model to an integrated word study/orthographic mapping/application model is challenging, but crucial, for developing functional literacy skills. Research has shown that learning to spell is about learning the structure of words, NOT memorization. Four types of linguistic knowledge are necessary to spell efficiently: phonological knowledge, orthographic knowledge, etymological language, and morphological language. The presenter will discuss these layers of language knowledge, how to integrate them into spelling instruction, how to assist parents in studying words (not just helping students memorize them), and how to assess weekly spelling words through an interactive format. Attendees will leave this session with an instructional model for teaching encoding that aligns with the science of reading and can be implemented immediately.

Transform Instruction with Beginning Sound Walls: Strategies and Inspiration
Rhonda Ayers
Dr. Mary Dahlgren
Nikki Baker

Using a sound wall can enhance instruction in preK – grade 3 classrooms. Because of the science of reading, we know the role of phonetics and phonology in developing beginning reading and spelling skills. Developing these promotes the development of automatic sight word retrieval, and explicitly teaching the sounds, along with placement and manner of articulation, makes learning more concrete for students. Join this motivating and applicable session, during which you’ll learn the purpose and how to set-up of a sound wall, a sound wall daily routine, and how you can use a sound wall to support all learners.

Breakout Session #6
12:20 PM – 1:20 PM

Structured Literacy: Applying the Science of Reading in the Classroom to Enhance Language Comprehension
Dr. Suzanne Carreker

Structured Literacy is the embodiment of the science of reading in the classroom. Importantly, the terms science of reading and Structured Literacy are not synonymous; the accumulated evidence from gold-standard research on reading acquisition and instruction is the science of reading, whereas Structured Literacy is representative of reading instruction that applies the findings from the science of reading to classroom practice. Although it is based on decades of gold-standard research and instructional practice, Structured Literacy is fairly new in the reading world. This session will highlight the importance of recognizing what constitutes Structured Literacy and what might be the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. In particular, this session will address language comprehension, a critical component of reading comprehension.

The Decoding Strategy You Never Heard of and Why It Matters for Instruction: Set for Variability
Dr. Marnie Ginsberg

The traditional systematic phonics program typically assumes the same formula for how children learn to decode unknown words:
letter-sound knowledge + blending skill = decoding skill. However, recent theory and research on Set for Variability lead us to add a novel variable to this equation: letter-sound knowledge + blending skill + Set for Variability = decoding skill. Thus, Set for Variability (SfV) is one more skill in the learner’s mental toolbox that allows her to successfully decode an unfamiliar word. Not only has research demonstrated differential effects in children’s reading achievement based on Set for Variability, experiments suggest that this decoding strategy can be taught. This is good news. In this session, discover the seminal findings about SfV from the last 10 years, how these modern insights can be translated to classroom practice, and how they may impact text selections for reading instruction.

Lighting the Way to Close the Gap: Five Lessons Learned from Twenty-Two Years on the Ground
Dr. Margie Gillis

The National Reading Panel Report was the catalyst that launched the coaching of elementary general education teachers in three low-performing districts in CT. Twenty-two years later, invaluable lessons have been learned as an experienced team of reading experts have coached over a thousand teachers in hundreds of schools. This session will highlight five areas of focus to address the inequities that exist in the nation’s educational system: teacher prep programs must teach the science of reading; schools and districts must provide substantive professional learning, including coaching support, for teachers; districts must require administrators to learn the science of reading so they can monitor teachers’ classroom practices; districts must invest in an reliable, valid, and efficient data process to support multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS); and schools must partner with families so they can learn how to support their children’s reading and academic success.

Cortex in the Classroom: Refining Professional Knowledge for Preschool Teachers Using the Neuroscience of How Children Learn to Read
Dr. Carolyn Strom

This session addresses essential knowledge and evidence-based practices for early childhood educators related to neurocognitive processes and skills lying at the root of reading ability. While efforts exist to better educate K-12 teachers on the science of reading and the robust evidence base, early childhood educators are often overlooked. Thus, this information remains largely inaccessible. Yet, early childhood educators have the potential to make a truly significant difference in the reading lives of young children, particularly if equipped with deeper professional knowledge. This session focuses on insights developed out of a research-practice partnership between university faculty and Head Start classrooms that supports early childhood teachers to learn the scientific evidence underpinning how children learn to read. Participants will learn about frameworks used to make the science of reading more accessible and actionable for early childhood educators, and understand what evidence-based practices look like in preschool classrooms.

Using Decodable Texts for Practice, Assessment, and Monitoring in Beginning Reading Instruction: Perspectives from an Australian Study
Simmone Pogorzelski

Results from an Australian study examining the role of texts in beginning reading provide evidence that the use of decodable, in comparison to predictable, texts in beginning reading yield greater gains in foundation literacy skills for children commencing school with lower literacy levels. These findings offer insights into how texts scaffold the development of early reading skills, while also showing how the continued use of levelled readers to track early reading progress promotes the development of fluency at the expense of mastering word recognition skills. Using Ehri’s (2005, 2014) stage model of word reading, the presenters will provide an alternative approach to assessing early literacy skills and discuss how teachers can use this information to select appropriate texts for reading instruction. This research confirms the early work of Mesmer (2005, 2009), and supports the notion of a developmental window for early reading in which decodable texts facilitate the progression from partial to full alphabetic decoding.

Acceleration: An Approach to Closing Early Literacy Learning Gaps
Dr. Siobhan Dennis
Dr. Julia Carlson
Lena Kim

Acceleration is a term that is easy to write or talk about, but extremely challenging to accomplish. A new approach to closing achievement gaps is acceleration, an approach to propel students forward, targeting essential grade-level readiness for success in the upcoming year. Effective acceleration begins with targeted grade-level learning goals, the implementation of high-quality curriculum resources that include diagnostic assessments, and providing professional development and support for teachers. Acceleration establishes what students absolutely need to know, which requires accurate diagnostics geared to immediate learning targets. It also requires close linkages between the diagnostics and the curricular material that the teachers will use. This presentation will explore an approach to acceleration implemented with students who experienced extreme gaps in literacy learning. Participants will learn about the acceleration program implemented, the conditions administrators faced, lessons learned, and the impact on student achievement.

Breakout Session #7
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM

Morphology Across the Grades: Understanding the Development of Morphology and Teaching It
Dr. Deborah Glaser

Morphological awareness is the NEW awareness – for both teachers and their students. It is a language component that makes strong contributions to multiple literacy outcomes. The development of morphological knowledge and awareness develops over time. This workshop will help teachers understand the development of morphology from oral language to written language and what morphology instruction looks and sounds like in the early grades through the intermediate and upper grade levels. Educators will leave with instructional tools to implement right away in their classrooms.

Defying the Odds to Teach Reading: The Role of Teacher Knowledge, the Language of Instruction, and Fast-Paced Explicit Teaching Routines
Dr. Lorraine Hammond

Learning to read is complicated for some children by extrinsic factors over which they and their teachers have little control. While the context for this session is remote Australia, the impact of extrinsic factors such as low spoken oral language, learning English as an additional language, poor school attendance (exacerbated by COVID 19), transiency, and trauma are the reality for schools in any part of the world and particularly challenging for beginning teachers. In this session, the presenters outline the factors underpinning the success of the Kimberley Schools Project (KSP) on reading outcomes and school attendance. We also demonstrate, through video examples and a teaching demonstration by an early career teacher, the positive impact of providing professional development and coaching that raises teacher knowledge about what to say and do to confidently teach reading systematically, sequentially and explicitly.

DIY Morphology – Ways To Building Morphological Awareness Into Your Current ELA Block
Dr. Julie Klingerman

Research has identified the effectiveness of building morphological awareness to illuminate students’ understanding of meaningful word parts — an integral part of literacy instruction in a morphophonemic language! Morphological awareness enhances word recognition, spelling, vocabulary, and overall comprehension for all students, particularly for those in the intermediate grades. For older, struggling students, a systematic approach to morphology instruction can help close the “proficiency gap” in an engaging, multi-sensory manner.

Unfortunately, many ELA curricula do not include MA into daily instruction and practice. Teachers of older students, whether regular education or interventionists, will learn practical ways to effectively integrate morphology instruction into their current ELA or content-area classes. Research-based resources, tips, and strategies will be shared to help teachers develop and implement a morphological awareness plan designed to improve literacy proficiency for students in grades 3 and up.

Scaffolding Complex Texts, Instructional Strategies for Equitable Access to Rigorous Content
Michelle Elia

Struggling readers, specifically those that have not mastered the code, often lack access to the very resources that they need to build vocabulary and background knowledge – complex, grade level texts. Instead they are given less rigorous (leveled) texts in core instruction, reducing instruction in grade level standards. The instructional conundrum for educators is this. How can students comprehend complex texts that are challenging for them to read? The answer lies in instructional scaffolds. This session will model teacher practices that can be immediately implemented to assist struggling readers in reading and learning from rigorous texts. It’s time to stop differentiating the text and instead differentiate the instructional scaffolds to ensure equitable access to challenging content.

Breaking New Ground: Foundations of Teacher Professional Knowledge Set the Foundations for Early Reading Improvement and Social Justice
Dr. Tina Daniel

The establishment of a consistent foundation of evidence-based professional knowledge to teach a wide range of children to read could be viewed as a socially-just and inclusive understanding of what, why, and for whom educators teach. However, for many children, progress in learning to read is dependent upon the quality of professional knowledge of skilled teachers and their ability to navigate the competing challenges of their context. Data from my recent doctoral study reveal frustration and conflict between teachers choosing scientific research as evidence for practice and colleagues and/or leadership resistant to new or unknown frameworks of knowledge. Pathways that recognise the constraints and barriers to teaching early reading are discussed, as well as the role of teacher professional knowledge and experiential knowledge. Recommendations are offered for the adoption of early-reading-positive schools as a foundation for early reading improvement within a social justice framework.

SOR-ing with Structured Literacy: The WHAT and the HOW
Melissa Klug
Jeanie Hertzler
Amy Cavalier

State and county consultants review components of structured literacy (the what) with a focus on sharing evidence-based methods (the how) to deliver structured literacy across tiers.

Closing Keynote
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Do the Best You Can Until You Know Better
Dr. Anita Archer

This quote reflects why we are attending the 6th annual conference of The Reading League; to gather information on high-leverage practices drawn from the Science of Reading and the Science of Instruction, so that we can implement those practices to improve the learning and lives of the children we serve.

In this endnote, Dr. Archer will focus on these highly effective practices, some are old (Gold) and some are new (Silver), but none of them should be forgotten. This endnote is designed to summarize and wrap up our great conference.

Anita Archer

Dr. Anita L. Archer is an educational consultant specializing in explicit instruction, the design and delivery of instruction, behavior management, and literacy instruction. She has taught elementary and middle school students and is the recipient of 10 awards honoring her excellence in teaching and contributions to the field of education. Dr. Archer has served on the faculties of San Diego State University, the University of Washington in Seattle, and the University of Oregon in Eugene. She is nationally known for her professional development activities, having presented in every state over the course of her 50-year career. Dr. Archer is coauthor, with Dr. Mary Gleason, of numerous curriculum materials addressing reading, writing, and study skills. Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Anita’s primary home is in Portland, Oregon where she enjoys entertaining friends, attending symphony and opera performances, and practicing her cello.

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