Supporting Students’ Reading: Phonemic Awareness to Comprehension (DESE)

This professional development course provides educators with an understanding of the components of reading development, including phonemic awareness, phonics, decoding, fluency, and comprehension. The course content is rooted in the structure of literacy and explores the importance of building competency in all of the components of reading in order to ultimately read for understanding. Additionally, the course explores how reading development is impacted for students with a language-based learning disability (LBLD), such as dyslexia, which falls under the diagnostic umbrella of a specific learning disability (SLD). As a result of the learning experiences in this course, participants will be more competent in their ability to:

  • Identify the components of reading development
  • Understand how LBLD / SLD impacts reading development
  • Explore informal and formal assessments that identify deficits in phonemic awareness, phonics, decoding, fluency, and/or comprehension
  • Implement and adapt targeted strategies to support all components of students’ reading development
  • Design activities and lessons to promote students’ reading skills and, ultimately, their ability to read for understanding

The course is divided into five, self-paced modules:

  • Overview of Reading Development: This module presents an overview of reading development and explores how reading development is impacted for students with language-based learning disabilities.
  • Phonemic Awareness: This module describes phonemic awareness, or the ability to differentiate and manipulate speech sounds.
  • Phonics: This module addresses phonics, the connection of speech sounds to letters.
  • Decoding:  This module explores decoding, the association of letters with speech sounds in order to accurately read a word.
  • Fluency: This module outlines the components of fluency: accuracy, rate, expression, and phrasing.
  • Vocabulary and Comprehension: This module explores how vocabulary development, metacognition, and background knowledge can support comprehension, the ultimate goal of reading.

Each module will follow the same basic outline:

  • A reading of course content followed by a short quiz
  • A reading of additional course content followed by a discussion post
  • A viewing of strategy demonstration videos featuring Landmark School teachers employing practical instructional strategies followed by a related assignment
  • An opportunity to submit concluding thoughts about the relevance of the course content
  • A summative assessment to synthesize and demonstrate understanding of course content

Specific Assignments:

  • Pre and Post-Assessments: These ungraded questionnaires will be completed at the beginning and end of the course in order for participants to self-assess knowledge and application of course content.
  • Quizzes: The quizzes will assess comprehension of the content from the required reading.  The quizzes will be automatically graded within the course platform. Although participants must earn an 80% or higher to move on to the next section of the course, there are unlimited attempts allowed.  
  • Discussion Posts: The discussions will require participants to post an initial response and reply to at least one other post.  These tasks will be assessed using specific rubrics.
  • Assignments: The assignments in each module will require participants to apply their understanding of course content. These tasks will be assessed using specific rubrics.
  • Concluding Thoughts: These tasks require participants to synthesize three key takeaways from the module and will be assessed using specific rubrics.
  • Summative Assessment: For the final assignment, participants will reflect on the instructional strategies and resources that are currently available in their school or district related to reading. Participants will reflect on these questions: Where are there gaps in the curriculum? What new content and strategies have you learned from this course and how could you apply them to your setting to better support students’ foundational reading skills? How can you collaborate with colleagues to ensure skills are taught across grade levels and curricula? Participants will submit a short written product on how they could improve reading instruction in their educational setting.

There is not a required text for the course.

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