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Iowa Reading Research Center Resources

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It is an important part of our mission to provide evidence-based literacy resources for educators and families. These resources created by the Iowa Reading Research Center provide opportunities to teach and provide student practice opportunities for various reading and writing skills, as well as offering other guidance and information through a variety of literacy resources listed below. Resources created by IRRC collaborators are tagged "Collaborator Contribution."

Guides for Families and Educators

Supporting Your Children's and Teens' Home Learning Guide

In order to support families with children who may be participating in virtual instruction or otherwise learning at home, this guide offers tips on establishing home learning areas, improving the home-based learning experience, and utilizing web resources for students kindergarten-Grade 6 and Grades 7-12 in the subjects of English-language arts, science, social studies, and history. Web resources for assistive technology for home learning are also included for students with reading disabilities.

PDF iconSupporting Your Children's and Teens' Home Learning Guide

Understanding and Responding to Writing Prompts Guide

Learn about different writing prompts, the five components of a writing prompt, and the writing skills to be taught in order for students to respond to prompts of different genres.

PDF iconUnderstanding and Responding to Writing Prompts Guide

Young Adult Literature Guide - For Books Published 1974-2003

This guide developed by Iowa Reading Research Center Director Dr. Deborah K. Reed includes over 20 recommended books with summaries, difficulty level and interest level ratings, instructional information, sources of information related to the book, and more.

PDF iconYoung Adult Literature Guide - For Books Published 1974-2003

Activities and Games

Chore Chart

Use this chore chart template to fill out a weekly list of chores to be done, indicating which family member will do each chore and what day they will complete each chore. Discuss with the family as you go to practice English skills.

PDF iconChore Chart

Creating a Book Recommendation Video

This guide provides sentence starters for students in fourth grade and older to formulate thoughts and opinions about a book which they can convey verbally for a book recommendation video. Filming tips for teachers are also provided. Videos can be posted for friends to see. Videos like these can be a way to motivate students to read and create something meaningful and useful.

PDF iconCreating a Book Recommendation Video

Paraphrase Game

Players describe nouns so that other players can guess them. This game provides practice using paraphrasing strategies, which are helpful when a speaker is struggling to use an unknown word.

PDF iconParaphrase Game

Reading Racetrack Sight Word Activity

Teach students how to recognize sight words, which helps students read effortlessly and focus on decoding difficult words, using this exercise that involves multiple rounds of instruction and practice.

PDF iconReading Racetrack Sight Word Activity

Spell the Word

This handout for practicing reading and spelling words with consonant digraphs contains pictures and partially spelled words that contain either the ch or sh digraph. Students will fill in the blank with the correct digraph to complete the spelling for the word that names what is shown in the picture above it.

PDF iconSpell the Word

Word Match Game

Players match nouns and adjectives to expand their vocabulary and practice other literacy skills including morpheme awareness, making connections to background knowledge, and social connections. Directions for how to play the game and templates to make your own cards are included.

PDF iconWord Match Game

Lesson Plans

Activating Background Knowledge Elementary and Middle School Example Lesson Plans

These plans use a famous speech (middle school) and a children's book on frogs (elementary school) as texts and t-chart graphic and semantic web graphic organizers to teach background knowledge. Related blog post.

PDF iconActivating Background Knowledge Middle School Example Lesson Plan

PDF iconActivating Background Knowledge Elementary School Example Lesson Plan

Sentence Expanding Elementary and Middle School Example Lesson Plans

These plans provide guided and independent practice on adding details to expand simple sentences. Each plan contains a notes page, a words and phrases bank, and a practice sheet. Related blog post.

PDF iconSentence Expanding Elementary School Example Lesson Plan

PDF iconSentence Expanding Middle School Example Lesson Plan

Teacher Methods

Argumentative Claim Checklist

Students can use the three-part checklist to ensure that their argumentative claim is a strong foundation for the rest of their argumentative essay.

PDF iconArgumentative Claim Checklist

Assessing Student Writing

An introductory guide about using correct writing sequences (CWS) and incorrect writing sequences (IWS) as measures of student writing.

PDF iconAssessing Student Writing

Consonant Digraph Cards

Cards that can be printed and used as part of a lesson teaching students to read, say, and spell words that have consonant digraphs. These cards feature the consonant digraphs ch and sh.

PDF iconConsonant Digraph Cards

Example Fidelity Rubric

An example of a fidelity rubric that addresses both structural and procedural fidelity at the global and lesson-specific levels. Note that this example rubric is not intended to be used as an actual fidelity rubric because it does not correspond with a specific intervention.

PDF iconExample Fidelity Rubric

Example Scripted Think Aloud for Text Structure Mapping Instruction

A scripted representation of an educator modeling text structure mapping for a problem-solution text. Teaching text structure may improve comprehension. 

PDF iconExample Scripted Think Aloud for Text Structure Mapping Instruction

Example Student Graph for Progress Monitoring

Teachers can use this graph to record writing goals and progress toward those goals with their students. A partially completed graph is also included to demonstrate how teachers and students can use the tool.

PDF iconExample Student Graph for Progress Monitoring

Explicit Vocabulary Instruction Template

Guide your thinking, organize your decisions, and create active practice activities related to explicit vocabulary instruction. This resource is divided into the five major aspects of explicit vocabulary instruction and includes guiding questions to ground your planning in evidence-based practices.

PDF iconExplicit Vocabulary Instruction Template

Higher-order Questions Checklist

Students can use this checklist to classify and generate higher-order questions about a text. These types of questions require analyzing or evaluating the text or creating something new.

PDF iconHigher-order Questions Checklist

Important Elements of Literary Texts Anchor Chart

Students may use this anchor chart to formulate questions about important elements of literary texts.

PDF iconImportant Elements of Literary Texts

Keyword Mnemonics Checklist

Students can use this checklist to make sure they are properly following all the components of the keyword mnemonics strategy in order to remember the definition of the target vocabulary word.

PDF iconKeyword Mnemonics Checklist

Linguistic Context Questionnaire

A supplemental resource from the Early Literacy Blueprint Initiative, teachers can use this questionnaire to plan appropriate instruction for English learners by gathering information about the student's linguistic background, the language(s) used in the home, and the literacy practices of the family.

PDF iconLinguistic Context Questionnaire

Oral Reading Fluency Error Correction Procedure

Students working in pairs learn to follow a four-step procedure for correcting any errors made during oral reading fluency practice sessions.

PDF iconOral Reading Fluency Error Correction Procedure

Oral Reading Fluency Goal Setting Template

Students choose from reading strategies and positive behaviors to set goals for improving their oral reading fluency during a Repeated Reading session.

PDF iconOral Reading Fluency Goal Setting Template

Oral Reading Fluency Reflection Guide

This guide provides traits/skills of fluent readers and questions to help students identify their own strengths, weaknesses, and things to improve on in the future.

PDF iconOral Reading Fluency Reflection Guide

Problem-Solution Text Map Rubric

This rubric provides guidelines for providing students with targeted feedback regarding the accuracy and completion of their text maps (see PDF iconProblem-Solution Text Structure Map). This can be used as part of text structure instruction, which may improve comprehension.

PDF iconProblem-Solution Text Map Rubric

QAR Questions and Answers by Type

A guide to use when teaching students the Question-Answer Relationship (QAR) strategy to help teachers plan which questions to ask for the four question types and an answer that might be given.

PDF iconQAR Questions and Answers by Type

Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy Anchor Chart

This anchor chart (Vanderbilt University Teaching Center, 2016) illustrates and describes the levels of the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy (Anderson & Kratwohl, 2010). Both students and teachers can use this resource.

PDF iconRevised Bloom’s Taxonomy

Sample Plan for Timed Writing Sessions

This plan introduces picture-word prompts for practicing writing fluency and modeling how to use them for one-on-one and small-group instruction. Also includes providing students with feedback and progress monitoring. Related blog post.

PDF iconSample Plan for Timed Writing Sessions

Teacher Methods of Supporting Students' Writing

Three ways to support struggling writers through sentence framing, expanding, and combining.

PDF iconTeacher Methods of Supporting Students' Writing

Why is it Important to Ask Good Questions? (Anchor Chart)

This anchor chart provides examples of students’ responses when asked to consider how they will use question generation inside and outside of the classroom.

PDF iconWhy is it Important to Ask Good Questions?

Reading Graphic Organizers

Asking Questions of Readers in the Lower Grades (Pre-Kindergarten-Fourth Grade)

This organizer helps readers develop comprehension skills by learning how to ask questions and look for the answers in a text.

PDF icon"Asking Questions of Readers in the Lower Grades (Pre-Kindergarten-Fourth Grade)" graphic organizer

Asking Questions of Readers in the Upper Grades (Fifth Grade and Up)

This organizer helps readers develop comprehension skills by learning how to ask questions and look for the answers in a text.

PDF icon"Asking Questions of Readers in the Upper Grades (Fifth Grade and Up)" graphic organizer

Book vs. Movie - Compare and Contrast

This graphic organizer helps children organize their thoughts about the similarities and differences between a book and a movie telling the same story. Comparing books and their movie adaptations can help motivate students to read and dig deeper into some elements of the text.

PDF iconBook vs. Movie - Compare and Contrast

Cause and Effect Graphic Organizer

Students can be taught to use this graphic organizer to identify and record events that occur in a text (effect) and the reason why that event occurred (cause).

PDF iconCause and Effect Graphic Organizer

Compound Word Meaning

With this graphic organizer, children can identify and define the two words that were combined to make a compound word and use that information to define the compound word. This can help develop morphological knowledge, or the ability to identify and manipulate the smallest units of meaning within a word.

PDF iconCompound Word Meaning

Context Clue Graphic Organizer

Students can identify and keep track of context clues using this graphic organizer by writing down the unfamiliar word, the type of context clue, and the word meaning. Context clues help readers determine the meaning of new words.

PDF iconContext Clue Graphic Organizer

Forming Opinions

This tool helps users organize their thoughts and learn to form opinions about their reading.

PDF icon"Forming Opinions" graphic organizer

Improve Your Writing Using Mentor Texts

Questions about a mentor text guide discussion, help students organize their thoughts, and identify techniques and approaches from the example of good writing that students can use. The organizer can be used in a group or individual setting.

PDF iconImprove Your Writing Using Mentor Texts

K-W-L Chart

This chart can be filled out by children when reading at home in order to support activation of background knowledge about the topic of a text they are reading. This is intended to help them better understand the text.

PDF iconK-W-L Chart

Making and Evaluating Predictions

This graphic organizer helps students write down evidence they find in a text, make a prediction based on that evidence, write down any new evidence they find, and evaluate the prediction they made. Making predictions is a way for students to better comprehend a given text.

PDF iconMaking and Evaluating Predictions

Making Inferences

Using two prompts, users will be able to use this organizer to practice inferencing skills, which are critical for reading comprehension.

PDF icon"Making Inferences" graphic organizer

Problem-Solution Text Structure Map

A graphic organizer to help students display and organize important features from a text about a problem and solution. The graphic organizer can be used to teach text structure, which may improve comprehension.

PDF iconProblem-Solution Text Structure Map

Sequencing Graphic Organizer

Children can use this graphic organizer for recording the characters, settings, and events of a story. This graphic organizer can be used to help your child identify the elements while reading or listening to a story. 

PDF iconSequencing Graphic Organizer

Story Map

Students can be taught to use this graphic organizer as a part of a comprehension strategy to show the elements of a narrative text and check themselves for understanding of those elements.

PDF iconStory Map

Suffix Dictionary

A graphic organizer to record the meaning of suffixes in words by writing down the word ending, whether the word is an adjective or a noun, and the meaning of the suffix.

PDF iconSuffix Dictionary

Theme Development Tracker

Adolescents can use this resource to identify themes in literary texts and record textual details that introduce and develop the themes.

PDF iconTheme Development Tracker

What Am I Thinking Organizer

Users of this tool are encouraged to write down their thoughts about a text in four different ways (opinion, reaction, connection, and visualization) and provide reasons from the text for their thoughts.

PDF icon"What Am I Thinking" graphic organizer

Word Box Template

A graphic organizer designed to help students determine which letters represent the sounds heard in a given word. A graphic representing the word is provided with blank spaces for each sound to be filled in. Both a three-space and six-space word box are included.

PDF iconWord Box Template

Writing an Objective Summary

With this resource that includes a graphic organizer, children follow a step-by-step set of instructions that leads them to write an objective summary of a text. The summary does not include any opinions or judgments.

PDF iconWriting an Objective Summary

Bookmarks and Book Inserts


CROWD is used to remember the types of basic questions to ask to facilitate dialogic reading: completion, recall, open-ended, “wh” questions, and distancing.

PDF iconSet of CROWD bookmarks


The IDEA strategy uses four key components drawn from research that caregivers can easily implement to teach and practice literacy skills when reading to children at home.

PDF iconSet of IDEA bookmarks

Interactive Reading Guide Book Inserts

This guide can be put in every book at home or in the classroom library to help plan new vocabulary and questions you want to include when reading with children in order to facilitate dialogic reading.

PDF iconSet of Interactive Reading Guide Book Inserts

Look, Listen, and Think

Help young readers when they encounter unfamiliar word by helping them to look, listen, and think about the word with these questions.

PDF iconSet of Look, Listen, and Think bookmarks


PEER questions are meant to encourage deeper responses about a text during dialogic reading, leading to a conversation beyond one-word answers.

PDF iconSet of PEER bookmarks

English Language Facilitation Guides

Fun and Effective Ways to Read to Children

This guide provides an overall orientation to Colorin Colorado, a national multimedia project offering a wealth of bilingual, research-based information, activities, and advice for educators and families of English language learners.

PDF icon"Fun and Effective Ways to Read to Children" facilitation guide

International Children’s Digital Library

This guide explores a collection of searchable digital books available in multiple languages.

PDF icon"International Children's Digital Library" facilitation guide

Reading Tips for Parents

This facilitation guide features Reading Rockets, a website that provides family members tips for helping kids become successful readers. Information can be searched by age or grade, disability area, and home language.

PDF icon"Reading Tips for Parents" facilitation guide

Tips for Teaching Your Child About Phonemes

This facilitation guide focuses on a section of the Colorin Colorado and Reading Rockets websites that offer at-home activities family members can use to help their children understand the sounds in words.

PDF icon"Tips for Teaching Your Child About Phonemes" facilitation guide

Parent-Teacher Communication

Collaborator Contribution

Family Letters for Schools

The Iowa Department of Education provides letter templates and other documents to assist with implementation of the state’s early literacy laws. The letters are intended to assist schools in communicating with families about universal screening assessments and results.

The documents begin on Page 28 of the “Early Literacy Technical Assistance Appendices.”

Family Questionnaire for Individualized Education Program

Family members provide answers about the educational experiences of their child with a learning disability. The insights provided can be used during an Individualized Education Program meeting and documented in the Individualized Education Program.

PDF icon Family Questionnaire for Individualized Education Program

Parent Support Checklist

This checklist outlines the steps family members can take when they have concerns regarding their child’s reading performance.

PDF iconParent Support Checklist

White Papers From Collaborators

Collaborator Contribution

How to Make Handwriting Part of Early Literacy Instruction

By Shawn Datchuk, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, University of Iowa College of Education

This white paper explains how handwriting assessments can be used to analyze a student’s handwriting and then offers instructional techniques to improve the handwriting of elementary-aged students.

PDF iconHow to Make Handwriting Part of Early Literacy Instruction

Collaborator Contribution

Strong Girls Read Strong Books

By Renita Schmidt, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor (retired), University of Iowa College of Education
Amanda Haertling Thein, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor, University of Iowa College of Education

The authors explain how they go about selecting texts for their afterschool reading club that helps girls grow into strong women through reading books featuring strong female protagonists. They also highlight key practices they have found useful in reading and responding to those texts.

PDF iconStrong Girls Read Strong Books

Collaborator Contribution

The Power of Interactive Read Alouds

By Gwen Marra, Ed.D.

Through read alouds that utilize dialogic reading, children can develop their use of new vocabulary in a meaningful way, make connections between new and previously-learned information, and learn literary elements like character, point of view, and plot.

PDF iconThe Power of Interactive Read Alouds

Related: PDF iconBlank version of the Dialogic Reading Planning Form included in the report