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Educator Resources

Teaching reading is complex and may be challenging—it requires considerable knowledge and skill. Teaching reading is a job for an expert. No instructional program can replace teacher knowledge and skill. We have provided information on the Science of Reading Resources webpage to learn more about the research surrounding learning to read. This page aims to provide educators with more information on instructional practices, activities and resources to use in the classroom, and information on how to choose a scientifically and evidence-based core reading program.  

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Stay Informed

To support implementation of new or refined practices and continuation of learning beyond the teacher training courses, the CDE Literacy Team will be highlighting supportive resources, helpful instructional tips, and helpful links in a recurrent newsletter. To receive periodic emails, please sign up. 

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Lesson Plan Templates 

Phonics Lesson Routine Template
This CDE provided Phonics Lesson Routine Template can be used for lesson planning and ensuring that all critical parts of the lesson plan are included. The plan includes linking to previous learning, a phonemic awareness warmup, explicit teaching of the new concept, practice with the new concept, decoding in context, and reinforcement of the concept through encoding or written response.  

Vocabulary Lesson Template
This CDE provided Vocabulary Lesson Template can be used for lesson planning and ensuring that all critical parts of the lesson plan are included. The template provides guidance on choosing words to teach in-depth, providing a user-friendly definition, including examples of the word in context, and activities for students to interact with the new word.   

Text Planning Guide for Comprehension
This CDE provided Text Planning Guide for Comprehension can be used for lesson planning and ensuring that all critical parts of the lesson plan are included. The template includes guiding questions for choice of text and student considerations, pulling out sentences that may be problematic for students, asking text-dependent questions, and indications of success for the lesson. 

Instructional Practices

CDE’s Science of Reading Resources  
Find information on the science of reading on this page to ground yourself in this research before diving into specific instructional practices and activities. This page offers different modes for exploring the science of reading through podcasts, videos, books, book studies, research articles, and ways to connect with the science of reading community.  

An Example of the 90 Minute Reading Block 
Research shows that students need at least 90 minutes of uninterrupted reading instruction each day to become strong readers and that this instruction must be systematic, explicit, scaffolded, and differentiated across the classroom. Resource provided by Just Read! Florida.  


Components of a Core Literacy Block 
Guidance documents developed by Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to help ensure all critical components of the core literacy block are included in instruction. The core literacy block includes three main components: foundational skills, engaging with complex text, and writing. Oral Language is the bedrock, and differentiated instruction happens throughout. 


Structured Literacy and Typical Literacy Practices: Understanding Differences to Create Instructional Opportunities
This document covers key features, typical literacy practices, examples of activities, and assessing reading errors using a structured literacy approach. Structured literacy approaches are supported by research and are often recommended for students with poor decoding skills. 


Text Types: Decodable, Leveled, & Authentic
This page provides resources on the differences between different text types and their uses in instruction. Different types of text are used for different purposes for beginning and struggling readers. One text might be used for students to practice decoding skills while another text might be used to build background knowledge and vocabulary with the ultimate goal of students successfully reading any book of their choosing. 


Explicit Instruction and Active Participation
It is possible to have adopted an evidence-based core reading or intervention program and still not obtain the desired academic gains.  The programs must be delivered in a matter that maintains student attention and engagement.  In this video, Dr. Archer is teaching students how to respond during the lesson.  Notice that she doesn’t just tell students what she desires. She teaches the behaviors using the same instructional steps of modeling and guided practice used in teaching academic strategies.


The Usefulness of Brief Instruction in Reading Comprehension Strategies
Cognitive scientist, Daniel Willingham, discusses how teaching reading strategies is a low-cost way to give developing readers a boost, but it should be a small part of a teacher’s job. Acquiring a broad vocabulary and a rich base of background knowledge will yield more substantial and longer-term benefits.

Classroom Resources & Activities

Text Talk Lessons
Text Talk is an approach to read-alouds that is designed to enhance young children's ability to construct meaning from decontextualized language. The Text Talk Lessons provide educators with a resource to accomplish the complex and demanding task of developing children's literacy using read-alouds. The ebook, provided by the Utah Department of Education, contains discussion questions and vocabulary activities to go along with each title. The book is over 400 pages with detailed instructions and questions for many read-aloud books such as A Bad Case of Stripes, Chrysanthemum, Fancy Nancy, I Wanna Iguana, The Polar Express, and Stellaluna. 

Resources for Teaching Phonological Awareness 
This page includes a variety of resources to help with phonological awareness instruction and a general understanding of English phonology. Resources include Understanding  Consonant and Vowel Phonemes in English, Consonant and Vowel Charts, Basic Phonograms Chart, The Development of Phonological Skills, Teaching Early Literacy Skills when Masking in Schools, Phoneme/Grapheme Support Cards, and Phoneme Articulation Cards

Trail to Summit: Systematic Phonics Framework 
Trail to Summit Reading is an instructional framework provided by the Colorado Department of Education to help readers who struggle with accurate and automatic word reading. Studies indicate when students fall behind in beginning reading, they rarely catch up on their own – but we change that by using a highly structured program that focuses on critical word recognition skills. Trail to Summit can be used as a tutoring program or across Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III settings to complement existing programming or to bolster or enhance existing programming.


Phoneme-Grapheme Correspondence Activities from UFLI 
As children are developing early literacy skills, they begin to associate the phonemes (speech sounds) they hear with the graphemes (letters and letter combinations) they see.  The activities in this section are designed to strengthen students’ phoneme-grapheme associations. 


Heart Word Routine for Irregularly Spelled Words
The Heart Word Routine can be used to teach students to spell irregular words by drawing students' attention to the parts of the word that are expected and the parts that are unexpected or that they must “learn by heart.” By using this routine, students are attending to and building their phonics skills and knowledge rather than resorting to rote memorization. This routine can also be used to teach students high-frequency words for which the phonics pattern has not yet been taught.

Sound Wall And Spelling Resources
This page includes a video on how and why to set up a sound wall in the classroom, printable sound wall cards (basic, advanced, and placemat sized), the most frequent spelling for each phoneme resource, and common spelling rules. 

UFLI Foundations Toolbox
This new resource from UFLI includes a series of foundational reading lessons including companion resources to help implement the lessons efficiently, effectively, and consistently. Some of the included companion lesson resources are lesson slide decks, decodable passages, homework sheets, and games and activities for additional practice.

Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Learners

Supporting ELLs in the Mainstream Classroom: Reading Instruction
English language learners (ELLs) need the effective, research-based reading instruction that all learners need. However, ELLs will need additional support in English language skills and scaffolds in learning how to read in a language that they are still learning. The strategies here will help you in your everyday teaching, particularly for newcomers (students who have recently arrived in the U.S.). 

Teaching English Language Learners: What the Research Does—and Does Not—Say
This thorough review offers a comprehensive summary of existing research on issues related to the education of ELLs. Dr. Claude Goldenberg focuses on two major reviews of research, one by the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth, and the other by the Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence (CREDE). Topics covered include bilingual education, oral language development, reading instruction, curriculum, instructional methods, assessment, and accommodations.

Literacy Development Among English Language Learners
The number of English learners attending public schools continues to increase.  Educators working with students of all ages, in general education and special education, can therefore benefit immensely from understanding the evidence-based approaches for teaching language and literacy to this diverse population of students. Slides are from a presentation by Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan, Ed.D., a renowned expert and national leader in the arena of structured literacy approaches for English learners.

Effective Literacy and English Language Instruction for English Learners in the Elementary Grades
The goal of this practice guide is to formulate specific and coherent evidence-based recommendations for use by educators addressing a multifaceted challenge that lacks developed or evaluated packaged approaches. The challenge is effective literacy instruction for English learners in the elementary grades. The guide provides practical and coherent information on critical topics related to literacy instruction for English learners. 


Selecting Scientifically and Evidence-Based Instructional Programs

For more information on how to select a scientifically and evidence-based instructional program, visit this page. It includes an instructional programs and tools overview video, a video walking through the use of the Reading League's Curriculum Evaluation Tool and CDE's Core Instructional Programming Rubric, links to those resources, and CDE's Advisory List of Instructional Programming. 

Because of their potential interest or usefulness to the education community or the general public, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) occasionally provides links from this site to external web sites. It attempts to monitor such links on a regular basis. However, the Department cannot be responsible for the content of any site external to its own.  

Further, by linking to other sites, CDE is not endorsing any particular product, practice, service, provider or institution, nor does it necessarily endorse views expressed or facts presented on these sites.  

In addition, neither CDE nor any of its employees makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information linked to from this site.  

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