to ‘The Essential Components of Teaching Reading’, an interactive
This tool was originally designed to assist community college students in
articulating into four-year college licensure programs. It is also helpful
to inservice teachers who want to upgrade their reading teaching skills
or make sense of current trends in teaching reading. The tool is built around
the National Reading Panel report and includes the components they identified
as supported by scientifically-based research: phonemic awareness, phonics,
comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary. In addition, the tool addresses
the essential component of writing and different ways to organize a balanced
Dr. Melissa Cain of The University of Findlay developed these modules as
part of a grant of Rhodes Community College. A former first grade teacher,
Dr. Cain has been teaching literacy at The University of Findlay for 15
||How to use the
To the left is a sample Learning Module.
Each module begins with a pretest designed to check the participant’s
existing knowledge and provide some focus for working through the
modules. The Definition of Terms button helps participants learn the
vocabulary that is necessary for understanding the topic of each module.
Background Information includes related literature, concepts, and
links and provides the basic information needed to understand the
topic. Teaching Strategies tells how to teach the topic to children
in classrooms. Assessment Strategies includes assessments that teachers
can quickly and easily use to determine how well individuals in their
classrooms are doing with the concepts of the topic. Self-Evaluation
is an opportunity to revisit the pretest and reflect upon how the
participant’s teaching will be changed as a result of the knowledge
and skills learned in the module. Throughout the modules, participants
are asked interactive questions to help them process the information.
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With the release of the findings of the National Reading Panel (NICHD, 2000),
there is a national expectation that teachers are able to apply scientifically
based reading research to their classroom practice. This web site is designed
to help teachers make sense of that expectation in five ways.
1. Examining current thinking about teaching reading,
2. Developing background knowledge about teaching reading,
3. Learning effective ways to teach reading,
4. Learning ways to informally assess reading, and
5. Reflecting upon how the new information will impact future teaching.
The National Reading Panel was charged with sifting through the reading
research for studies that used the scientific method. Specifically:
• The studies had to utilize an experimental design.
• The subjects sample size needed to be large enough to represent
• The studies had to be replicable and replicated.
• The studies had to be approved by experts in the field of reading
beyond the panel, i.e. they were published in juried journals.
Techniques supported by scientifically based reading research are a recommended
by the No Child Left Behind Act and the Reading First Initiative. The
five essential components of reading identified by the National Reading
1. Phonemic Awareness Instruction
2. Phonics Instruction
3. Fluency Development
4. Vocabulary Acquisition
In addition, the NRP suggested that instruction must be systematic
Systematic instruction is characterized by the following:
1. It occurs in a logical sequence. As an example, sounds that are more
common or useful will be taught first.
2. Lesson plans are written with defined objectives stated as what students
3. Multiple opportunities for practice are provided, with independence
of the skills being the goal.
4. Opportunities are provided for students to apply the skills.
5. Assessments monitor the students’ use of the skills, application
of them, retention of skills over time, and independence of use.
Explicit instruction involves the teacher clearly stating the skill that
is being taught and modeling its use.
Assessments must be valid and reliable. Valid means that they must test
what they are designed to test. Reliable means that results must be consistent
over time. For a more expanded definition of validity and reliability,
For a more complete description of the No Child Left Behind Act, see http://www.ed.gov/nclb/landing.jhtml.