EDU 514 The Reading Specialist and Intensified Literacy Instruction
I. Course Description: EDU 514 The Reading Specialist and Intensified Literacy
Reading specialists/literacy coaches serve in many roles. This foundation level course
focuses on the design and delivery of intensified literacy instruction by reading
specialists. Evidence-based instructional designs, which focus on diagnostic data to
craft daily lessons, are explored. The importance of motivation and scaffolded
support for learning is stressed. Attention is also devoted to the selection of print and
technological resources appropriate for struggling readers and writers, given
situations of diverse socio-economic, cultural and linguistic diversity. Prerequisites:
Two of the Foundation Level courses EDU 504 Literacy Curriculum and Instruction:
Pre K-3; EDU 506 Literacy Curriculum and Instruction: Grades 4-8; EDU 513
Literacy Curriculum and Instruction: Adolescent to High School; EDU 502; or
permission of the instructor.
3 S.H.; 3 C.H.
II. Course Rationale:
Reading specialists need to be able to work with struggling readers and writers
including those who have identified special needs across grade levels, in a range of
school settings. This course requires graduate students to combine their knowledge of
linguistically and culturally diverse populations, small group and individual
instructional designs, best literacy practices, and factors related to literate
environments with their ability to use multiple student data sources to plan responsive
instruction for struggling readers and writers in multiple grades. Graduate students
also explore the reading specialist’s responsibilities in securing family and community
support as well as advocating for struggling readers and writers. This course is directly
aligned with the IRA (International Reading Association) Standards for Reading
Professionals (2010).
III. Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes:
As a result of study and activities in this course, graduate students will be expected to:
A. Read and analyze major theories and best practices to employ when working
with struggling readers and writers, including Response to Intervention (RtI
and RtII).
B. Discuss the characteristics of struggling readers and writers including those
who have identified special needs.
C. Identify and design curriculum that will meet the diverse needs of struggling
readers and writers.
D. Design appropriate intensified, data-driven instruction that meets the needs of
struggling readers and writers.
E. Recommend and select a variety of texts that range from traditional to online
resources to meet the specific needs and abilities of struggling readers and
F. Determine students’ reading performance, relative to word learning, fluency,
and comprehension, based on the administration and scoring of an informal
reading inventory.
G. Articulate the ways diversity influences reading and writing development in
order to understand the relationship between first and second language
H. Design instructional time periods that use individual and small group practices
to differentiate instruction for struggling readers and writers.
I. Articulate the legal rights and responsibilities of the teacher for special
education referral, evaluation, and the rights and procedural safeguards that
students are guaranteed.
J. Recommend opportunities for English Language Learners to engage in
authentic discourse based on best practices and evidence based assessments.
K. Advocate for struggling readers and writers by joining and participating in
literacy organizations to promote effective literacy instruction.
Assessments based on a subset of the following: Instructional portfolio, exams, quizzes,
reports, presentations, journal article reviews, projects, reaction papers/journals.
Course Outline:
Current theory and research
A. Overview of struggling readers
1. Socioeconomic factors and literacy
2. Culturally and linguistically diverse readers
3. Developing readers
4. Readers with processing differences/delays
5. Unmotivated readers
6. Learning disabilities
a. Specific reading disabilities
b. Attention deficit disorders
7. Emotional and behavioral disorders
a. Asperger / Autism
b. PDD / ODD
8. Cognitively challenged
B. Contributions of key literacy researchers and noted writers
School-based designs for intensified instruction
A. Standards-based curriculum
1. Knowledge of various standards
2. Evaluating the alignment of intensified literacy programs,
practices and materials to curriculum
B. Assessment of readers
1. Use of commercial assessments
2. Use of informal assessments
a. Qualitative Reading Inventory
(1.) Purposes
(2.) How to administer and score
(3.) How to interpret
b. Use of data from running records, commercial
benchmarking programs
C. Special education legal rights and responsibilities
1. General education teacher’s role in referral and evaluation for special
2. Reading specialist’s role in collaborating with the IEP team
3. Procedural safeguards for students
4. Parents’ rights
D. Response to Intervention and Instruction (RtI/RtII)
1. RTI Guiding Principles for Educators (International Reading
2. Keystone State Reading Association’s position statement on RtII
3. Differing interpretations of RtII at local, state and national levels
E. Discrepancy model of identification of special needs
F. Supplemental instruction
1. District-sponsored and/or Title 1
2. Pull out and push in designs
3. Scheduling challenges and tips
G. Early intervention programs
H. Impact of government policy
Application of motivational practices to struggling/unmotivated readers
A. Provide choice of texts in which success is possible
B. Involve home/community
C. Use technology in meaningful ways
D. Create culture to support literacy (interest inventories, range of materials,
time, social interaction, “buy-in” to literacy culture, “fun”)
E. Engage students in goal setting and metacognitive strategies
F. Use of behavioral checklist when appropriate to facilitate learning
Best practices for intensified literacy instruction
A. Foundational Principles
1. Use daily data to inform instruction
2. Employ gradual release of responsibility model
3. Recognize and teach to students’ strengths
4. Use daily reading and writing for authentic purposes
5. Establish a communication system regarding students
6. Involve home/community for student’s success
B. Adapting responsive literacy instruction to struggling readers
1. Small group
a. Instructional Strategies Approach (ISA)
b. Strategy lesson groups
c. Book clubs
d. Responsive commercial programs (e.g., Leveled Literacy
Intervention, Reading Apprenticeship)
2. Individual
a. Reading Recovery
b. Reading Workshop (use with struggling readers)
c. Practicing reading conferences
3. Independent reading
a. Build stamina
b. Involve home/track progress
c. Self-select appropriate text
d. Know books and children’s interests
e. Programs (e.g., 100 Book Challenge)
C. Focused instruction for struggling writers
1. Common needs beyond conventions of print
a. Motivation and perseverance
b. Sentence combining and elaboration
c. Word choice
d. Expository and argumentative writing
e. Self-evaluation
2. Decision-making to support struggling writers
a. Conferencing
b. Effective use of technology
c. Adapting writing process to student needs
(1.) Publishing vs. volume of writing
(2.) Word processing vs. handwritten product
D. ELL literacy intervention and instruction
1. Articulating ELL levels II and III related to literacy learning
2. Delivering appropriate literacy instruction to ELL students at
levels II and III
V. Locating and Using Instructional Materials for Struggling Readers
A. Reading resources appropriate to age/skill/interest level
1. Books
a. Selecting high interest trade books (hard copy/e-reader)
b. Determining when to use “leveled” texts
c. Coaching readers to select multiple genres
d. Supporting the reading of culturally diverse literature
e. Creating texts
2. Magazines, newspapers, catalogs, games, and other print materials
3. Technology
a. Internet
(1.) Directing student use
(2.) Resources for teachers to create material
b. Application of current technologies appropriate to
intensified literacy instruction
B. Commercial Programs for Intensified Literacy Instruction
1. Keeping up-to-date with commercial programs
2. Using resources and knowledge base to evaluate
a. Government, state, professional organization reviews
b. Time to critically analyze materials
c. Cost of programs vs. purchase of books/magazines
d. Match of program materials to balanced literacy model
VI. Reading specialists: Working with families and community
A. Approaches to family literacy
1. Getting to know community/family cultures
2. Building on family and community strength
B. Family/community involvement
1. Communicating with families/community
2. Creating a welcoming environment
a. Sensitive to multicultural/economic perspectives that
impact parent participation
b. Respect for various family structures
3. Designing and hosting programs/special events
4. Working with community agencies
C. Securing outside resources
1. Donations (e.g., book drives)
2. Grant Writing exploration
D. Federal/state program requirements
E. Working with professional organizations
1. Membership in local, state, international reading associations
2. Attending conferences
3. Professional growth through listservs, blogs, webinars, etc.
4. Opportunities for committee service
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