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Iowa Reading Research Center Resources

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As the home for reading research in Iowa, it is an important part of the mission of the Iowa Reading Research Center to exist as a resource for evidence-based literacy information. We provide guidance and information through a variety of literacy resources listed below.

We also provide a collection of web-based literacy resources for families and educators, as well as literacy-related services for Iowa’s colleges and universities, including dyslexia training and training on the statewide data system for universal screening and progress monitoring.

We frequently share additional literacy resources via social media through Facebook and Twitter.

Iowa Reading Research Center Original Resources

This listing of resources created by Iowa Reading Research Center staff and includes lesson plans, commonly used terms, parent checklists, and other supporting materials. Those resources created by IRRC collaborators are tagged "Collaborator Contribution."

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

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

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

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

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Varied Practice Passages for Improving Reading Fluency

PDF icon Varied Practice Passages for Improving Reading Fluency

These Varied Practice passages provide an alternative to Repeated Reading for fluency practice. Rather than reading the same assigned practice three times in succession, as would be done in Repeated Reading, students read three different passages that use similar words.

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

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

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

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

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

Forming Opinions

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

PDF icon"Forming Opinions" graphic organizer

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

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

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

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

Bookmarks and Book Inserts

CROWD

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

PEER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.”

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, 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

Pronunciation Guides for Letter Sounds

Collaborator Contribution

Letter Sounds Video

Collaborator Contribution

Vowel Sounds Video