The Essentials of Teaching Children to Read: AND Model Lessons for Literacy Instruction, Virtual Classroom Experiences

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9780131516601: The Essentials of Teaching Children to Read: AND Model Lessons for Literacy Instruction, Virtual Classroom Experiences
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Why is preparation so critical for reading teachers?  Because research tells us that it’s the teacher who makes the difference in effective reading instruction.  Capable literacy teachers think about their teaching decisions, and they understand and meet the needs of individual students.  The new edition of The Essentials of Teaching Children to Read: The Teacher Makes the Difference emphasizes the teacher’s role in literacy development, pointing out the five pillars of effective reading instruction–teacher knowledge, assessment, effective practice, differentiated instruction and family/home connections. Chapters on phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, assessment, and programs and standards are organized around these pillars for a concise look at the teacher’s role in the most important aspects of literacy education.  


New to this edition….


Teacher Knowledge

  • Presents all the background knowledge, research, and foundational information you need to recognize evidence-based instruction


  • Offers full sections in each chapter that look specifically at the ways evaluation and assessment drive instruction
  • Chapter sections built to a complete chapter on assessing student needs.

Effective Practice

  • Provides practical strategies that explain how to sequence instruction to develop critical literacy skills and strategies

Differentiated Instruction

  • Points out ways to differentiate instruction to meet the individual needs of students, adapting your instruction to help every student succeed in literacy
  • Features Getting to Know English Learners provide research-based applications to help you meet the needs of students whose first language is not English

Family/Home Connections

  • Explains how teachers can connect with parents to keep them informed about their children’s learning and provides suggestions to guide parents in helping their children become successful readers and writers.

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About the Author:

Dr. D. Ray Reutzel is the Emma Eccles Jones Distinguished Professor and Endowed Chair of Early Childhood Education at Utah State University. Ray is a former Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Southern Utah University; Associate Dean of Teacher Education in the David O. McKay School of Education; and former Chair of the Department of Elementary Education at Brigham Young University. While at BYU, he was the recipient of the 1992 Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Research and Creative Arts Professor Award and was an integral part of developing BYU’s nationally celebrated Public School Partnership, the field-based Elementary Education program, the Center for Improvement of Teacher Education and Schooling (CITES) and the Utah/CITES Balanced Literacy initiative as a part of the U.S. and Utah’s Goals 2000 funding. He has served as technical assistant to the Reading Excellence Act and the Reading First federal reading reform projects in the state of Utah. Several years ago, he took a leave from his university faculty position to return to full-time, first-grade classroom teaching in Sage Creek Elementary School. Ray has taught in Kindergarten, 1st grade, 3rd grade, and 6th grade.


Dr. Reutzel is the author of more than 165 refereed research reports, articles, books, book chapters, and monographs published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Reading Research Quarterly, Journal of Literacy Research, Journal of Educational Research, Reading Psychology, Reading Research and Instruction, Language Arts, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, and The Reading Teacher, among others. He has received more than $5.5 million in research/professional development funding from private, state, and federal funding agencies. He was recently awarded a $1 million research grant as principal investigator under the Teacher Quality Research Program of the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.


He is the past editor of Reading Research and Instruction, the journal of the College Reading Association. He is co-author, with Robert B. Cooter, Jr., of The Essentials for Teaching Children to Read, Second Edition, Teaching Children to Read: The Teacher Makes the Difference, Fifth Edition, and Strategies for Reading Assessment and Instruction: Helping Every Child Succeed, Third Edition published by Pearson Professional & Career. He has written a professional book titled, Your Classroom Library: How to Give It More Teaching Power, with Parker C. Fawson. He is or has been a reviewer for The Reading Teacher, Reading Research Quarterly, Reading Psychology, Journal of Educational Research, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Reading Research and Instruction, Journal of Reading Behavior, Journal of Literqacy Research, and The Elementary School Journal.


Dr. Reutzel received the A.B. Herr Award from the College Reading Association in 1999 for Outstanding Research and Published Contributions to Reading Education. He was the e4ditor of the International Reading Association’s professional elementary section journal The Reading Teacher from 2002-2007. He was awarded the Researcher/Scholar of the Year Award by the College of Education and Human Services at Utah State University in May, 2004. He was elected Vice-President of the College Reading Association in April of 2005 and served as that organization’s President in 2007. Dr. Reutzel was recognized as a recipient of the College of Education’s 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming and is the D. Wynne Thorne Outstanding University Research Award recipient from Utah State University in April 2007. Dr. Reutzel was given the John C. Manning Public School Service Award from the International Reading Association in May 2007. Ray will also serve as a member of the Board of Directors of the International Reading Association from 2007-2010.     



Dr. Robert B. Cooter, Jr. is the Ursuline Chair of Teacher Education at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. Prior to moving to Bellarmine University, Dr. Cooter was Distinguished Professor of Urban Literacy Research at The University of Memphis. Professor Cooter teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels in reading/literacy education, and his research focuses on the improvement of reading instruction for children living at the poverty level. In November 2007, Robert Cooter, and colleagues J. Helen Perkins and Kathleen Spencer Cooter, received the 2007 Urban Impact Award from the Council of Great City Schools for their work creating and implementing the Memphis Literacy Academy for teacher capacity-building in high poverty schools.


In March of 2006, Robert Cooter and J. Helen Perkins (University of Memphis) were selected by the International Reading Association to serve as editors through 2011 of The Reading Teacher, the largest literacy education journal in the world.


In higher education administration, Professor Cooter has previously served as departmental chair at Texas Christian University (Curriculum & Instruction), Southern Methodist University (Teacher Education), and The University of Memphis (Instruction and Curriculum Leadership).  Dr. Cooter also served as Dean of the College of Education at Austin Peay State University (Tennessee).


Professor Cooter founded the award-winning Memphis Literacy Academy, an outreach program in Memphis City Schools dedicated to raising the expertise and of hundreds of inner-city teachers of reading, and is also co-principal investigator for the Memphis Striving Readers Program (grades 6-9 content areas), a $16 million middle school literacy research project in Memphis City Schools funded under a major grant by the U.S. Department of Education for 2006-2011. Dr. Cooter formerly served as the first “Reading Czar” (associate superintendent) for the Dallas Independent School District (TX) and engineered the district’s highly acclaimed Dallas Reading Plan involving the training of approximately 3,000 teachers in “comprehensive literacy instruction.” In 1998 then Texas governor George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush named him a “Texas Champion for Reading” for his development of the Dallas Reading Plan.


Cooter has authored or co-authored more than 60 journal articles and some 19 books in reading education. His books include the best-selling Teaching Children to Read: The Teacher Makes the Difference, 5th ed. (Merrill/Prentice Hall), an evidence-based reading (SBRR) text currently used at over 200 universities; Strategies for Reading Assessment and Instruction: Helping Every Child Succeed (Merrill/Prentice Hall) which is at present the top text in reading assessment in the U.S., Perspectives on Rescuing Urban Literacy Education: Spies, Saboteurs, & Saints (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates), The Flynt/Cooter Reading Inventory for the Classroom (Merrill/Prentice-Hall), and the new Comprehensive Reading Inventory (Merrill/Prentice Hall), a norm-referenced reading assessment for classroom use.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The Essentials of Teaching Children to Read is a concise, yet comprehensive, compilation of the best documented scientifically based reading research (SBRR) on the five key areas of reading development: phonological and phonemic awareness, phonics instruction, reading comprehension, reading fluency, and vocabulary development. This book is primarily designed to be a tool for practicing teachers and a resource for improving daily reading instruction. In these pages, the reader will discover the essentials of proven classroom strategies backed up in large measure by direct experience and research conducted by the authors themselves in classrooms around the country-urban, rural, and suburban. In other words, we have walked in the shoes of reading teachers.


Teachers accustomed to lengthy texts on reading instruction in college courses will be pleasantly surprised. The Essentials of Teaching Children to Read is a "lite" text designed for real-world teachers dealing with the demands of real-world classrooms. At every turn, we have constructed a book that respects your time by providing only the critical information for improving reading instruction and nothing more. We begin with the fundamentals of organizing our thinking about comprehensive reading instruction, followed by specifics on scientifically based reading research (SBRR) in the five critical areas of reading instruction, then show you how to organize for instruction. We also include summaries along the way on national standards in reading instruction as described by the most influential organizations across America so that we are all "speaking the same language." The following is a brief description of the chapters contained in The Essentials of Teaching Children to Read.

  • Introduction: A Nation Refocusing Its Attention on Reading—The book begins with an introductory narrative describing the current scene in America and the need for a comprehensive approach to reading instruction. We summarize the rationale and need for the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Reading First legislation that made progress possible. We argue for, among other things, scientifically-based instructional approaches based on clear data from the classroom as well as consistency and high quality in delivery so that no child is left behind. In sum, we believe in insuring that every classroom should be as good as our best.
  • Chapter 1: Theoretical Roots of Reading Instruction—We believe that there is nothing so practical as a good theory. Here we "cut to the chase" on theories of how children learn to read and the implications for teachers, support personnel and, yes, families. This chapter helps you to become grounded in the essential principles of learning and how they relate to daily decision making about the "just right" strategies for your students.
  • Chapter 2: Phonemic Awareness and Phonics Instruction—With Chapter 2, we begin a careful study of the "Big Five" in reading instruction with a summary of scientifically based reading research (SBRR) in two key areas that lead to automaticity in decoding. This chapter begins with a look at research on early reading development and the seminal work titled The Report of the National Reading Panel as well as other key research findings. This is must-know information for all reading teachers. Next comes a presentation of the scope and sequence of benchmark skills to be learned in phonemic awareness, the alphabetic principle, and phonics. As with all later chapters, we equip the reader with "nuts and bolts" explanations of research-proven strategies to teach each and every benchmark skill on the pathway to literacy.
  • Chapter 3: Increasing Vocabulary and Word Knowledge—Reading is a language-sharing activity that is heavily dependent on vocabulary knowledge. A child can become quite accomplished at decoding words using phonics and other strategies; however, if the words she translates to language are not meaningfully known then true reading cannot occur. In this chapter, we first discuss what research tells us about how vocabulary is learned through language interactions, the types of vocabulary we acquire, the words we should teach, and the basic principles of effective language instruction. As you might suppose at this point, we close the chapter with the most effective strategies for teaching vocabulary in your classroom, including ways we meet the needs of English Language Learners (ELL).
  • Chapter 4: Improving Reading Comprehension—Comprehension is the essence of reading. Understanding the author's message is our goal, yet many of our students struggle with higher-order comprehension as they move into the upper elementary grades and beyond. Using SBRR as our springboard, we move quickly into relevant theory and an analysis of common comprehension difficulties. Next, we summarize an extremely practical model called the gradual release of responsibility for coaching students into higher levels of comprehension and conclude with a large number of strategies to assist your students in becoming accomplished "comprehenders."
  • Chapter 5: Developing Reading Fluency—Many students learn to read fairly well in the early grades but sometimes struggle with fluency (the ability to read text smoothly and at a reasonable rate). In this chapter, we combine research and practice by introducing a comprehensive approach refined as part of the Dallas Reading Plan initiative in Texas known as The Fluency Formula.
  • Chapter 6: Materials and Programs for Literacy Instruction: Basals and Beyond—Basal reading programs have been a staple of reading instruction for many decades. In this chapter, we describe the common components of basal programs and their strengths and limitations. We also probe further by discussing commercial reading programs and their significance on the national stage. We also discuss ways commercial programs assist teachers with students who have special needs and ways to help teachers work effectively with students whose first language is not English.
  • Chapter 7: Assessing Literacy Learning—It is critical that teachers hone their skills—quickly and efficiently—in assessing the reading development of all students in their classrooms. This information helps teachers plan appropriate instruction, monitor student progress, and report student learning to families and stakeholders. In this chapter on comprehensive reading assessment, we present seven key principles governing classroom reading assessment and how to get started. Next, we propose ways of assessing each of the five areas of reading development. Then, to help you form small groups for instruction based on common student needs, we share ways of profiling each student's reading development as well as methods for forming dynamic instructional clusters. Finally, consistent with the Reading First legislation, we discuss four purposes of reading assessment and commercial tools available for carrying them out. These include Screening Assessments, Outcome Assessments (e.g., Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills or DIBELS, Texas Primary Reading Inventory), Diagnostic Assessments (e.g., Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests), and Progress-Monitoring Assessments.
  • Appendices—Last but not least, we include in the Appendices additional tools to help you plan scientifically based reading instruction. These include Standards for the English Language Arts published jointly by the National Council for Teachers of English and the International Reading Association, Internet links to the various State Standards from around the nation, and a complete References section to help you in delving further into areas of interest.

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