Teaching Foundational Reading Skills

The Teaching Foundational Reading Skills MOOC-Ed will help you more effectively prepare your students in grades K–3 with the skills they need to become successful readers. This is a critical challenge for elementary school teachers: In 2015, only 36 percent of fourth-graders scored at or above the proficient level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Reading competency at fourth grade strongly predicts future success in school, since reading becomes increasingly central to learning in all content areas as students advance to higher grades.

This MOOC-Ed is organized around the recommendations of the Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade Practice Guide, published in July 2016 by the U.S. Department of Education's What Works Clearinghouse. This Practice Guide, developed by a panel of expert researchers and practitioners, provides educators with specific, research-based recommendations for effective teaching practices. It focuses on the foundational skills that enable students to read words, relate those words to their oral language, and read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to understand what they read. The foundational reading skills addressed in this course are shown in the framework below.

Framework: Core Elements of Teaching Foundational Reading, Grades K-3

The core elements of teaching foundational reading to grades K through 3 are: comprehension, fluency, morphology, word recognition, decoding, letter-sound relations, phonological awareness, language, vocabulary, and background knowledge.

Course Objectives

This Teaching Foundational Reading MOOC-Ed follows the Practice Guide in being organized around four major research-based recommendations, with specific classroom how-tos that will help you effectively implement them with your students. After a short Getting Started unit, each of the four major units of the course address one of the following recommendations:

  1. Advance students' speaking and listening language skills, including vocabulary knowledge and the use of inferential and narrative "academic" language.
  2. Develop students' awareness of the segments of sounds in speech, and how sound segments link to letters.
  3. Teach students to decode words, analyze words parts, and write and recognize words.
  4. Support students' development of reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension through reading connected text.

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Unit 1: Elements of Reading Foundations and Building Upon Students' Language Knowledge

In Unit 1, we first provide an overview of the four major recommendations in the Foundational Skills Practice Guide, each of which we consider in one unit of this course. We then consider, through classroom videos and participant discussion, the many components involved in teaching children to read, and the many skills children need to master to become successful readers. We then turn to the first recommendation from the Practice Guide, which is to further students' speaking and listening vocabulary, language use, and comprehension skills.

Unit 2: Phonological Awareness and Letter-Sounds

In Unit 2, we explore Recommendation 2 in the Foundational Skills Practice Guide, develop awareness of the segments of sound in speech and how they link to letters.

We will begin by reviewing the recommendation and core content, phonological awareness and the alphabetic principle. We will let you experience this content as your students would, by playing "games" with sounds and letters. Next, we will see it in practice by viewing some teachers facilitating their students' developing phonological awareness and knowledge of letter-sound connections. We will then discuss some related debates about instruction. You will have the opportunity to hear from our expert panel and try this out with your own students.

Unit 3: Word Decoding, Recognition, and Writing

In Unit 3, we explore the Recommendation 3 in the Foundational Skills Practice Guide, teach students to decode words, analyze word parts, and write and recognize words.

We will begin by reviewing the recommendation and core content, strategies for teaching students to decode words from simple to complex. We will let you experience this content as your students would, by playing "games" with word patterns and parts. Next, we will see it in practice by viewing lessons aimed at teaching these decoding and word analysis skills. We will then discuss some related debates about instruction. You will have the opportunity to hear from our expert panel and try this out with your own students.

Unit 4: Reading Connected Text to Support Fluency and Comprehension

In Unit 4, we explore the Recommendation 4 in the Foundational Skills Practice Guide, ensure that each student reads connected text every day to support reading accuracy, fluency and comprehension.

We will begin by reviewing the practice guide and core content, emphasizing ways to support children as they read connected text. These approaches will help children apply and extend the word-identification knowledge they are building during instruction that draws on the previous units. We will let you experience this content as your students would, by playing "games" in which you reflect on your own self-monitoring and strategic word recognition when reading connected text. Next, we will see it in practice by viewing examples of teachers implementing instructional practices that support children's fluent reading. We will then discuss some debates about reading instruction. You will have the opportunity to hear from our expert panel and try this out with your own students.

As you engage in supporting your own professional development, there are many ways to demonstrate your learning and earn recognition through this course that can be applied towards continuing education units (CEUs) through your own local educational agency.

A certificate of completion for 30 hours of professional development (3.0 CEUs) will be provided on request to participants who: (1) spent at least 30 hours participating in the course; (2) participated in the discussions, posting at least one new discussion or one reply to a discussion in at least three units of the course; (3) submit artifacts in at least three Demonstrate Your Learning sections; and (4) provided feedback on at least three other submissions.

A certificate of completion for 20 hours of professional development (2.0 CEUs) will be provided on request to participants who: (1) spent at least 20 hours participating in the course; (2) participated in the discussions, posting at least one new discussion or one reply to a discussion in at least two units of the course; (3) submit artifacts in at least two Demonstrate Your Learning sections; and (4) provided feedback on at least two other submissions.

You can submit the certificate to your local agency with a request for CEUs. Granting of CEUs will be subject to the policies and procedures of your state and local agency.

Certificates will be available for download after the requirements are met.

Jill Grifenhagen photo

Jill Grifenhagen

Jill Grifenhagen is an Assistant Professor of Literacy Education in the Department of Teacher Education at North Carolina State University. Dr. Grifenhagen was an elementary classroom teacher in Washington, DC, and Boston prior to earning her Ph.D. from Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Grifenhagen's research focuses on the role of teachers' talk to foster children's early language and literacy development in the classroom. She is interested in the intersection between language and literacy development as well as preparing children from all backgrounds for the academic and language demands of schooling today. In turn, Dr. Grifenhagen seeks to develop the best training and supports for teachers to improve practices in language and literacy.

Dennis Davis photo

Dennis Davis

Dennis Davis is an Associate Professor of Literacy Education in the Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences in the NCSU College of Education. Dr. Davis currently serves as co-editor of Journal of Literacy Research. He received his Ph.D. in Teaching, Learning, and Diversity from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. Prior to that, he was an elementary teacher in Texas. Dennis' research and professional development activities focus on elementary and middle grades literacy instruction with an emphasis on reading comprehension, assessment, and supporting readers when they find reading challenging in school.

Marcia Kosanovich photo

Marcia Kosanovich

Marcia Kosanovich is a reading educator with 25 years of experience in teaching, creating and delivering professional development, and designing curricula. She completed a doctorate in Elementary Education with an emphasis in literacy at Florida State University. She is a former Pre-K–fifth grade classroom teacher and tutor and taught undergraduate and graduate courses. Dr. Kosanovich is the lead author of many literacy guidance documents for educators at the state, district, and school levels. She has co-authored intervention reading curricula, research articles in peer-reviewed journals, and chapters in books. She is the former Director of Curriculum and Instructional Projects at the Florida Center for Reading Research and Deputy Director for the National Center on Instruction for Literacy. Currently, Dr. Kosanovich is the Chief Executive Officer for MK Educational Research & Practice, LLC, and engaged in school leadership and literacy projects for the Regional Educational Laboratory-Southeast at Florida State University.

Glenn Kleiman photo

Glenn Kleiman

Glenn Kleiman is the Executive Director of the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation and a Professor at the NC State University College of Education. A cognitive psychologist by background (Ph.D., Stanford, 1977), his work in education has spanned basic and applied research, curriculum development, software development, professional development for teachers and administrators, policy analyses, and consulting for school districts and state departments of education. Early in his career, Dr. Kleiman conducted research on children's language development and reading, and he was a Senior Researcher at the National Center for the Study of Reading at the University of Illinois. At the Friday Institute, Dr. Kleiman has led the development of Massive Online Open Courses for Educators (MOOC-Ed) initiatives. This builds upon his prior work at Education Development Center, Inc., (EDC) in Newton, MA, where as director of the Center for Online Professional Education, he developed a national program of online learning for educators (called EdTech Leaders Online or ETLO) and conducting research on the effectiveness of different approaches to online professional learning. Dr. Kleiman was also on the faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education from 1995–2007 and education chair of the Harvard/EDC Leadership and the New Technologies Institutes. Since moving to North Carolina in 2007, Dr. Kleiman has been a member of the North Carolina eLearning Commission and the Governor's Education Transformation Committee, and he played a lead role in the development of the North Carolina Race to the Top proposal and the 2015 North Carolina's Digital Learning Plan for K–12 schools.

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Alex Dreier

Alex Dreier is the Instructional Design Lead at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at the NC State University's College of Education. His primary work focuses on the instructional design, content development, and overall management of the Institute's MOOC-Ed initiative. Prior to joining the Institute, Alex managed the online training courses for EdTech Leaders Online, a nationally recognized online professional development organization at Education Development Center, Inc. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from Tulane University and an Ed.M. in Technology, Innovation, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Jacob Diehl photo

Jacob Diehl

Jacob Diehl is the Digital Media Producer at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. After graduating from Virginia Tech with a major in Communication in 2013, Jacob moved to Raleigh and began working in video production. He has created videos for local startups and small businesses, as well as larger corporations. Jacob comes to the Friday Institute after spending time in Greenville, N.C., at East Carolina University working as a videographer.
MOOC-Eds provide a scalable, accessible, and flexible approach that is aligned with the principles of effective professional learning. Our approach is grounded in authentic, active, and collaborative professional learning activities. The approach builds upon the following key design principles: 

  • Self-directed learning, through personalizing your experience by identifying your own goals, selecting among a rich array of resources, and deciding whether, when, and how to engage in discussions and activities to further your own learning and meet your goals. 
  • Peer-supported learning, through engaging in online discussions, reviewing your colleagues' projects, rating posted ideas, recommending resources, crowdsourcing lessons learned, and participating in twitter chats and other exchanges appropriate to the individual course. 
  • Job-embedded learning, through the use of case studies, classroom and school related projects; developing action plans; and other activities that center your work on critical problems of practice and data-informed decision-making in your own classrooms, schools or districts. 
  • Multiple voices, through learning about the perspectives of other teachers and administrators along with those of students, researchers and experts in the field. Our courses are purposefully not designed around one or two experts who present online lectures. They provide exposure to a rich set of perspectives presented within the context of course elements that reflect these core principles.

You will see these design principles implemented in our courses through the following instructional elements:

  • Conceptual Frameworks
  • Resource Collections
  • Asynchronous Discussions and Twitter Chats
  • Student Scenarios
  • Expert Panels
  • Participant Projects and Peer Feedback
  • Crowd-sourcing
  • Professional Learning Community (PLC) Guides

Duration 4 units
Cost Free
Primary Audience K-3 Teachers
Teacher's Aides
Parents
Reading Specialists
Teacher Educators
Professional Development Leaders
Certificate Available Yes
Certificate Hours 20-30
Facilitators Jill Grifenhagen, Ph.D.
Dennis Davis, Ph.D.
Marcia Kosanovich, Ph.D.
Glenn Kleiman, Ph.D.

Previous Courses

Fall 2017