Sneak Peek!

In this Sneak Peek of The Science of Reading Short Course, we’re including excerpts from the course to give you an idea of the experience of this fully online course. Each module in the course includes several self-checks throughout, an exit ticket at the conclusion, learning objectives, infographics, a glossary of key terms, activities, resources and lots of imagery and graphics. Please do note that the excerpts shared below are extracted from a learning management system (LearnUpon) so do not include all of the elements typical of an LMS. 


Module Introduction

Each module begins with:

  1. An animated introduction by your course guide, Michael, giving an overview of the highlights in the module
  2. Module learning objectives 
  3. A glossary of key terms for the module
  4. A Resource Toolkit to enhance your learning experience

See below for how this structure plays out for Module 4: The Language Comprehension Domain.

Module 4 Banner

In Module 4, we will explore two critical strands of the language comprehension domain: specifically background knowledge and vocabulary.  Background knowledge and vocabulary are universal elements in any content area for understanding new concepts and ideas and therefore, relevant to all teachers in any grade level.  Watch the video below to get a preview of this module.


Learning Objectives:

  • Unpack Scarborough’s Rope Model focusing on language comprehension, and developing an understanding of why background knowledge and vocabulary are critical to comprehension
  • Apply a six-part model for selecting and teaching vocabulary words across grades
  • Utilize graphic organizers and notetaking strategies to activate, build, and categorize background knowledge to support reading comprehension.
  • Describe the purposes and focus of whole group instruction, small group instruction, and independent learning centers and access sample lesson plan templates for each configuration
  • Recognize the similar and distinctive features of Structured Literacy practices in word recognition and language comprehension.
  • Name and define the characteristics of the Structured Literacy approach. 


Background Knowledge: The bank of knowledge one possesses based on life experiences and previous learning that is stored in memory and acquired over time.
Language Comprehension: The ability to derive meaning from spoken words when they are part of sentences or other discourse. 
Language Structure: Written syntax, sentence structure and text structure.  Understanding how sentences are formed and how they convey meaning is critical to our ability to comprehend while we read.  
Literacy Knowledge: The understanding that organizational differences and purposes exist among different text formats. For example, a poem has a different structure and purpose than an essay.  Literacy knowledge includes familiarity with the different expository (non-fiction) text structures that authors use to organize information.  These include description, sequence, compare, cause and effect, problem/ solution, as well as the use and purpose of headings, captions, and other organizational features. 
Mental Lexicon: Often referred to as the mental dictionary, the mental lexicon is the bank of words stored by a reader that supports how words are activated for meanings, pronunciation, and usage. 
Morpheme: The smallest unit of meaning in a word.  A word can consist of one or more word parts that each carries meaning.  For example, the word reviewed has 3 morphemes:  re (again) + view (look) + ed (in the past).

Structured Literacy: A trademarked phrase coined by the International Dyslexia Association to outline scientifically-based, highly effective practices for students with reading challenges.  The instructional practices of this approach include sequential, systematic, explicit, cumulative, and diagnostic.

Syntax: The arrangement of words and phrases in a sentence.  Word order may vary from language to language.  

Three-Tiered Vocabulary Model: A commonly referenced framework that is useful when conceptualizing words and concepts a student may encounter in text and the instructional and learning challenges that words in each category may present. Tier 1 words: Words commonly known and frequently used by most students primarily learned through conversation.  Tier 2 words: High-utility academic terms that appear often in text and are used in conversation across all content areas.  Tier 3 words are content or subject specific words and are essential to understanding a specific text, but not likely found in many texts.

Verbal Reasoning: The ability to put learning into words, to explain answers to the teacher’s questions, to infer, conceptualize and frame thoughts in words – all of these ways of connecting ideas, comparing and contrasting ideas, combining ideas, verbalizing thinking are referred to as verbal reasoning.  
Vocabulary: A language user’s knowledge of words.  
Word Learning Strategies: Strategies used to teach word meanings at a deeper level, as well as the network of words associated with the key term.  

Resource Toolkit

The resource section has a compiled collection of resources to enhance your learning experience. All videos and downloadable pdfs used in the course will appear in the resource section for added ease in accessing. There are also a number of additional resources to both extend your professional learning and offer more support to your instruction in the form of activities, reference materials, and lesson planning support. Spend a few minutes prior to or upon completion of each module exploring the additional resources available in this section.

Included in Module 3 Resources 

(Note: Resources are not available for download in this sample content.)

  • Resource Toolkit for Module 3
  • Module 3 Glossary

Activities and Check for Understanding

There are a variety of activities throughout the course that are enhanced with rich visuals and self assessments to support concepts covered. A sample activity applying the 4 Quadrants of the Simple View of Reading follows – without the interactivity afforded by the actual course!




Now you try it! Download and print this worksheet to complete the next activity.

Now it is your turn to check your understanding of how to use the quadrants. Read the descriptions of the students below and identify the appropriate quadrant to place them.

This is Cora:

Cora typically raises her hand to read aloud during class. She scores well on oral reading fluency assessments because she reads accurately and at an appropriate rate. She also reads unfamiliar words with ease. Cora rarely participates in classroom discussions. She has difficulty answering questions about passages, stories, or books she reads on her own. She cannot summarize what she has read. Into which quadrant do we suspect Cora falls? 

This is Ramon:


Ramon’s teachers rave about his curiosity of various topics. His ability to listen eagerly to class lectures and remember details and to make connections across the content is excellent. He dominates much of the class discussion because he’s so eager to share what he knows. Ramon does not prefer to read aloud nor does he read on his own. When Ramon writes, he often gets frustrated because his spelling is poor and he can’t seem to put his knowledge into words and onto the paper. Into which quadrant do we suspect Ramon falls? 

This is Javon:


Javon is in 8th grade and makes As and Bs in all of his classes. His favorite subjects are social studies and biology. He is hoping to be valedictorian of his class one day and become the first in his family to go to college. Javon is captain of the middle school debate team, tutors students after school, and writes for the school newspaper. Javon’s least favorite subject is math, though he still scores well on assignments and assessments. Into which quadrant do we suspect Javon falls? 

This is Shakira:


Shakira is a senior and can’t wait to graduate. She barely passes every class and finds studying, note taking, and even talking about the content difficult. Shakira likes to play sports and  is loved by her classmates. She is often perceived as the class clown, especially when she is asked to do tasks in groups or in front of the whole class. Shakira doesn’t want to go to college, though she was offered a basketball scholarship.  She believes school will be too hard so she plans to stay at home and work. Into which quadrant do we suspect Shakira falls?

Check Your Understanding

The Four Quadrants

Cora: Because Cora shows interest in reading aloud in front of peers and strength on assessments in oral reading, it appears she is strong in decoding. Her reluctance to engage in discussion and summarizing what she has read indicates that Cora likely is weak in language. Therefore, Cora’s name would be placed into Q3. 

Ramon: Because Ramon shows interest in discussion, remembers details and makes connections, Ramon likely has stronger language skills. His reluctance to read, his poor spelling, and his struggles with writing indicates Ramon may be weak in decoding. Therefore, Ramon’s name would be placed into Q2.

Javon: Javon’s grades, his interest in writing for the school newspaper and being a part of the debate team are strong indicators that Javon is strong in both decoding and language. Therefore, Javon’s name would be placed in Q1.  

Shakira: Shakira’s disinterest in school, her low grades, her difficulty in writing and discussion, and her coping behaviors indicate that Shakira is weak in both decoding and language.  Therefore, Shakira’s name would be placed in Q4.

Activity Summary

Using the quadrants helps a teacher apply what is outlined in the SVR. It supports instructional planning by pinpointing the specific needs of students and helps teachers to better plan for instruction. This tool can be utilized to group students for instruction and appropriately match intervention needs to specific students.  The next section of learning will provide even more support by identifying the sub-skills that should be included in instruction to develop both decoding and language comprehension.

Expert Videos

Numerous videos are included with each module to provide real-world demonstrations of concepts covered in the course, as well as instruction from reading experts such as Julie Washington, Deborah Glaser, Nancy Hennessy, Louisa Moats, and many more. Watch educator Linda Farrell in the video, below. 



Why is the Simple View of Reading SO Important?

In the video clip below, reading expert Linda Farrell (co-author of this article) talks about the Simple View of Reading. This interview is part of the Reading Rockets special video series, Looking at Reading Interventions. In this series, you can see Ms. Farrell working one-on-one with K-3 students, helping them to master phonological and decoding skills.



Colorful Infographics

This course is full of beautiful infographics that help explain challenging concepts and bring them together into one, easy-to-remember visual. Download a free PDF of the infographic below as part of this sneak peek! In the actual course, you can quickly save and print all of the infographics as part of our Resource Toolkit!

Synthesis of the Simple View of Reading


The Simple View of Reading infographic


Ten hours, five modules and you are on your way to a deeper understanding of how your students learn to read. You will learn what to teach and how to teach as you begin and continue your growth as a reading teacher who knows and applies the science of reading. Get started here!

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