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Instructional Resources and Professional Development

Teaching the Colorado Academic Standards in Reading, Writing, and Communicating is supported through a wide array of free instructional resources and professional development. This webpage lists just a few of these resources and will be updated regularly.

This page is currently organized by resources for Reading and Writing. In addition, there are resources for general Classroom Practices. Links and resources for “speaking and listening” and for “research and reasoning” are forthcoming.

The resources provided on this website are intended to provide a quick access list for educators to use in a way that supports their instructional planning. Provided resources should be previewed and used with teacher discretion. Because this page contains resources outside of the CDE website, CDE cannot control changes in outside content and listing these resources does not indicate an endorsement by the Colorado Department of Education. 

Phonological awareness

Phonological awareness refers to a person’s ability to recognize component speech sounds that make up spoken words. Essentially, words can be separated in three ways. The easiest is by syllable—rab-bit. A second way involves separating words into onsets (initial consonant[s]) and rime (the vowel and what follows) – cat = C/AT. The third (and most difficult) way to demonstrate phonological awareness is by dividing words into phonemes, or individual sounds – cat = C/A/T. Phonological awareness is essential for learning phonics.

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Phonics typically refers to study that stresses letters and the sounds they represent. This word is also used to describe reading and/or spelling instruction that teaches sound-symbol correspondences.

  • - phonics : This website describes a number of phonics-based activities for use in the classroom.
  • Kidzone - Phonics : This website outlines a number of phonics-based activities and suggestions for instruction.

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Fluent reading is defined as the ability to access text with appropriate rate, accuracy, and prosody. Reading rate refers to the speed at which readers move through text. Accuracy refers to the ability to read without miscues. Finally, prosody is considered a critical component of oral reading fluency. Prosody is the ability to read with appropriate phrasing and intonation. The ability to read with good prosody depends on automatic, accurate word recognition.

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Vocabulary refers to the group of words used by or known to a particular people or group of persons. Vocabulary can be sub-divided into many different components (e.g. expressive, receptive, technical, academic –etc.)

Three tiers are used as a way of teaching and assessing vocabulary. A word’s frequency of use, complexity, and meaning determines the tier into which a word falls.

  • Tier 1—Basic Vocabulary
  • Tier 2—High Frequency/Multiple Meaning
  • Tier 3—Domain/Concept Specific

Important Considerations: Rote copying of definitions DOES NOT WORK for long-term word learning!

The following videos provide expert classroom demonstrations of vocabulary instruction at the Kindergarten and 2nd grade levels. Reading researcher and practitioner, Anita Archer stars in these videos.

Dr. Michael C. McKenna created this ppt to effectively review theories of vocabulary acquisition, highlight a few critical pieces of vocabulary research, and connect to numerous instructional activities.

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The RAND Reading Study Group defined reading comprehension as “the process of simultaneously extracting and constructing meaning through interaction and involvement with written language (2002, p. xiii).

  • Comprehension Frameworks : This part of the Reading Rockets website outlines a number of instructional strategies for improving a student’s ability to make meaning from text.
  • Virginia DOE – Comprehension Frameworks: This webpage outlines a number of instructional frameworks that have proven to facilitate greater comprehension of text.
  • LDC Toolkit - The Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) offers a research based approach to incorporating literacy into all areas of content in grades K-12 by providing a common framework that facilitates teacher creativity and builds literacy skills across content areas.
  • - The Adolescent Literacy website provides resources for teachers and parents toward literacy development for students in Grades 4-12. From Common Core resources to classroom practices, the site offers a wealth of information and guidance for teachers.

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Writing refers to the ability to use the knowledge and structure of language to express ideas through text.

Students should demonstrate increasing sophistication in written expression as they progress through school. Student writing should require the use text-based evidence gleaned from increasingly demanding texts as they move through school. Students advancing through the grades are expected to master the CAS and further develop skills and understandings mastered in preceding grades.

  • Reading Rockets - Writing - This webpage provides teachers with invaluable insights and recommendations to help improve writing instruction and student outcomes.
  • Read, Write, Think - This comprehensive website provides instructional resources specific to many aspects of literacy development and instruction, including a wide array of suggestions for integrating writing across the curriculum.
  • Penny Kittle - Penny Kittle’s website offers a range of resources for adolescent reading and writing. She provides resources here for keeping writer’s notebooks, mentor texts, and videos to illustrate a variety of topics and concepts she covers.
  • The English Companion Ning - This site, hosted by Jim Burke, offers teachers an interactive place for teachers to learn from each other.

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Research in Reading, Writing, and Communicating

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High Impact Instructional Practices in Reading, Writing, and Communicating

As part of our District Sample Curriculum Project, Phase IV is devoted to exploring high impact instruction in our classrooms.  You can see some of the work produced by Colorado teachers at our recent summer Institute that illustrates some of the instructional practices here. In addition, we have drafted this resource on the key instructional shifts driven by the Colorado Academic Standards.  Teachers may also find the grid of instructional practices to be helpful as they intentionally plan for literacy instruction in their daily lessons.

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For website assistance in Reading, Writing, and Communicating, please contact Olivia Gillespie