The University of Iowa

Professional Development for Educators

Deborah Reed presenting professional development

IRRC staff like IRRC Director Dr. Deborah K. Reed deliver literacy professional development at conferences and workshops (photo courtesy Iowa Department of Education)

The Iowa Reading Research Center is heavily involved in educator professional development. Through our expertise in literacy instruction and years of experience delivering professional development, we help educators reexamine their practices, learn new evidence-based approaches, and delve more deeply into previously-learned techniques. 

What We Do

Creation of Literacy Instruction Modules

Literacy experts from the Iowa Reading Research Center create fully formed literacy professional development modules. Rather than a prescription for how to teach, modules provide evidence-based suggestions for maximizing the benefit of literacy instruction and implementing strategies that address specific literacy skills or topics. Modules are delivered to educators via workshops and typically include the various elements of an instructional routine, example lessons, and more.


Educators learning a new instructional approach benefit greatly from also seeing the approach play out with real teachers and students. Filmed with videographers and editors from Iowa Public Television, our videos take educators into the classroom to show how an approach is implemented effectively.


Staff from school districts, local education agencies, and other literacy leaders are certified to deliver literacy professional development modules to teachers by attending an Iowa Reading Research Center Training-of-Trainers event. Modules are described in depth by our literacy experts, and materials are provided so trainers are equipped to return to their district or region and train teachers to implement the instructional methods. This approach is designed to positively impact the highest numbers of students.

Delivery of Professional Development

Iowa Reading Research Center staff are frequent presenters at international, national, state, and local professional development conferences and workshops for literacy educators. Staff also offer opportunities for educators at state and regional education agencies, school districts, and individual schools to learn more about various literacy instructional methods.

Examples of Iowa Reading Research Center Professional Development Work

Early Literacy Blueprint Initiative

Click here to learn more about this joint professional development initiative between the Iowa Department of Education and the Iowa Reading Research Center.

California’s Adolescent Literacy Initiative (Project CALI)

Funded by the federal State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG), this initiative focuses on improving middle school teachers’ abilities to address the literacy needs of students with disabilities. Iowa Reading Research Center Director Dr. Deborah K. Reed served as the lead trainer and content expert on the state’s previous five-year SPDG, Project READ, and will continue in that role for Project CALI from 2018-2023. Dr. Reed conducts training webinars with the state’s literacy coaches and the school-based leadership teams, gives presentations at regional face-to-face institutes, and creates professional development modules with embedded videos for delivery to teachers in person or online.

IRRC Professional Development Logo
Grant Wood Area Education Agency

In collaboration with the literacy team at Grant Wood Area Education Agency, Dr. Reed will provide professional development to a cohort of middle school educators on Multi-Tiered System of Supports. Participating educators will learn to:

  • Provide leadership to develop a culture of literacy and data use
  • Use data to select literacy strategies and monitor student progress
  • Implement effective literacy instruction in core and intervention classes
  • Engage families and communities in supporting students’ literacy

Sioux City Community School District

A major part of the district’s implementation of a new instructional approach that involves small-group, skills-based instruction within the 90-minute literacy block is professional development delivered by Dr. Reed. From the beginning of this initiative, Dr. Reed has been involved by giving presentations on this instructional approach designed to better address students’ literacy needs at workshops for district staff. The success of this implementation has led Dr. Reed to deliver professional development on small-group, skills-based instruction to other districts in Iowa.