Literacy Leadership Blog

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Empowering Educators: Transforming Literacy in 2024 Through Expert Insights and Best Practices

Categories: Brain Based Learning, Curriculum & Access, dyslexia, Early Literacy, Education & Teaching, Educators, English Language Learners, Learning Disabilities, Professional Development, Reading Strategies for K-12, Student Centric Learning, Teacher Best Practices


We’re betting on 2024 to be the year of the Literacy Leader, and that every educator will take up the challenge. To ensure all learners become skilled readers, we must gain new knowledge and then apply that knowledge to transform literacy in our schools. Here is a recap of the 10 most-read articles from 2023 by literacy experts who want you to succeed in this mission: 

1. Understanding the Science of Reading Begins with a Clear Picture of How the Brain Learns to Read

New brain imaging and modeling studies paint a detailed picture of how the ventral visual cortex and associated language areas in the brain become attuned to reading. Stanislas Dehaene, renowned Cognitive Neuroscientist, reveals his Center’s research on how our brains are wired for spoken language at birth. 


2. Strengthening the Bones of Comprehension – 7 Sentence Strategies for Improving Comprehension Through Direct Instruction

Grounded in the Science of Reading, Scarborough’s Reading Rope is an infographic that depicts literacy success as a braided combination of many sub-skills. Laura Stewart, Chief Academic Officer at 95 Percent Group, discusses 7 strategies based on this principle for essential skill building. 


3. Evidence-Based Best Practices Build Language Acquisition and Reading Development in Bilingual Learners

Dr. Doris Baker, Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education and Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas-Austin shares her research on developing and testing interventions and assessments to improve academic outcomes for bilingual students.


4. Disunity in Reading Instruction The High Cost of Confusion

The science of reading isn’t just about phonics, but phonics must be explicitly taught to ensure that the child can build on their knowledge agency through literature-rich interactive reading experiences, text-based vocabulary, and background information. Constrained skills must be taught early to initiate our brains’ ability to process information. Examples of constrained skills are the alphabet, concepts about print, high-frequency word lists, and how to write our names. 


5. Strategies to Create Meaningful Reading Practice

Reading practice is essential to develop fluency, but the number of hours needed as well as the quality and type of practice, may vary depending on a student’s individual needs. Literacy experts Jennifer Ferlito, Sheryl Ferlito, and Nancy Chapel Eberhardt discuss their research and strategies to create more meaningful reading practice experiences. 


6. The Fourth Grade Slump: Understanding the "Big Picture" About The Science of Teaching Reading for English Language Learners

As text becomes increasingly more complex, fourth grade is a time of “high stakes” for many middle and upper-grade English Language Learners. Educators must remain mindful of how explicit reading instruction may still be necessary for some students. Dr. Peggy Semingson, Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics and TESOL at The University of Texas at Arlington teaches practitioner-focused courses in TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) and takes us on a learning journey and a look at the big picture. 


7. Overlooked Secrets of the English Language

Jean Rishel, a Level 5 Master Instructor for Multi-Sensory Education Institute (IMSE), discusses how the English language is structured and the fundamental rules to English words that, when understood, can help struggling readers unlock their reading comprehension skills more effectively. 


8. Finding Dyslexia in a Sea of Struggling Readers...The Challenges are Real 

Reading is not a default mode in our brains, especially for students with learning difficulties. Dr. Tim Odegard, Professor of Psychology at Middle Tennessee State University, leads the efforts of the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia and discusses the characteristics of dyslexia and how language development and written language development are symbiotic and relational. 


9. Professional Learning Programming for Teachers Must Be Sustainable, Impactful and Scalable

Studies show that a combination of online professional learning workshops and collaborative communities of practice with coaching are essential to improve instructional delivery and teacher retention, and 20% more likely to increase student achievement. Learn how you can quickly become knowledgeable about applying best practices on the Science of Reading and brain-based learning into your instruction now. 


10. Literacy Leadership - Characteristics, Traits and Qualities

What does it take to be a literacy leader in schools? Dr. Terrie Noland discusses the heart, mind, soul, and spirit of educators that all play a role in becoming a literacy leader. 


Bonus Listen & Learn: 

Check out our new podcast Literacy Change-Makers Miniseries

Listeners can expect hard-hitting questions, in-depth conversations, and the emergence of new leadership paradigms as they embark on this enlightening journey alongside these influential change-makers. This miniseries promises to be a valuable resource for educators, policymakers, parents, and anyone passionate about advancing literacy and education in our society.

Learning Ally offers professional learning events and programming to cultivate a deep understanding of how we learn, with an emphasis on whole child literacy and language comprehension. 

Our philosophy combines the application of evidence-based reading instruction (think Scarborough’s Reading Rope), layered with brain-based learning, and social and emotional well-being to include consideration of a child’s cognitive abilities, school-home environment, and perception of themselves as learners.  

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