Reading@UVA News

April 2020

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Connecting Teachers and Literacy Leaders to Reading Education at UVA through Professional Development Outreach and Online Courses

Reading @ UVA Response to COVID-19

Like all of you, the Reading Education program has been engaged in quickly adapting to our current circumstances. Our faculty have been responsive to our changing and uncertain environment, with a focus on maintaining high quality programing, while prioritizing the health and well-being of our team and that of the students and the children we serve. All of our instructional offerings will remain all online through at least Summer 2020. Additionally, all intervention services provided through McGuffey Reading Services has moved to an online platform. While the shift was an unexpected one for McGuffey, the clinical team is hopeful that this experience will allow for our clinical services to be offered far beyond the walls of our Charlottesville in-person clinic, even after the COVID-19 epidemic.

Newsletter Contents:

  • Upcoming Dates of Note
  • In This Issue: Resources for Online Reading Instruction
  • Professional Learning Opportunities
  • News From the Field
  • VDOE Literacy Summit
  • Books We Love
  • We Want to Hear From You!

Upcoming Dates of Note

  • Summer Registration Begins: April 15 (returning students), April 17 (new students)
  • Fall Registration Begins: April 2 (returning graduate students), April 8 (returning undergraduate students), July 1 (new students)
  • M.Ed. Reading Program Information Session: May 6, 2020 12:00 PM EST

In This Issue: Resources for Online Reading Instruction

Dr. Emily Solari was interviewed by UVA Today about how to engage children with reading at home. In the story, some recommendations were made for online reading resources. Those and additional resources are listed below.

  • Storyline Online and Romper streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations.
  • Core Knowledge Language Arts has made a series of PreK- Grade 3 read alouds available on Youtube, they are organized in the folders here.
  • offers authentic, decodable books that provide successful and motivating first reading experiences for students who are not yet fluent readers. Comprehensive instructional materials help teachers develop students’ foundational reading skills and close reading skills, beginning students on their path toward a literate future.
  • The National Center for Improving Literacy offers content online that addresses foundational reading skills.
  • Amplify offers ideas for at-home activities for younger students to develop foundational skills.
  • Kid Zone! from the National Center for Improving Literacy is a place where families can participate as your child builds literacy skills in a fun and interactive way.
  • Nessy is an online platform that provides instruction in foundational reading skills and writing development.
  • Reading Rockets has a list of different online reading apps.
  • Achieve the Core has provided a list of foundational skill practice for K-1 students.

Professional Learning Opportunities

Literacy Academy for Teachers of Struggling Readers

These four-day non-credit academies are designed for teachers of all grade levels who teach reading. Topics include an overview of literacy development, evidence based practice in reading assessment and instruction, including targeted instructional practices in the following sub component skills of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Across the sub component skill areas, teachers will learn to use data to drive instructional decisions for struggling readers.

Noncredit: 30 hours for successful completion on your UVA transcript.

If you are interested in learning more or arranging for an Academy in your district/school, contact Susan Thacker-Gwaltney at or 757-561-0480.

Summer 2020 Course Offerings

Summer registration begins April 15 for returning students and April 17 for new students.
All are three credits unless otherwise noted. Visit UVA's website to enroll HERE.

  • EDIS 7700 Foundations of Reading Instruction
  • EDIS 7710 Reading in the Content Areas
  • EDIS 7720 Word Study
  • EDIS 7310 Children's Literature
  • EDIS 5410 Young Adult Literature
  • EDIS 5435 Writing Across the Curriculum
  • EDIS 5270 Teaching Reading & Writing to ELLs
  • EDIS 7730 Practicum in Reading Diagnosis
  • EDIS 7740 Practicum in Remedial Reading

M.Ed. Reading Program May 6 Information Session

Are you interested in becoming a reading specialist?

Do you want more information about teaching your students how to read, spell and write?

Are you looking for online & face-to-face professional learning opportunities?

Join us at lunchtime on Wednesday, May 6th at 12pm EST for a brief information session on what the vibrant learning and research community at UVA's Curry School can offer to you and your teachers. Register HERE.

News From the Field

Warren County Public School Teachers Completed an ONLINE Literacy Academy

Warren County Public School teachers engaged in the Reading@UVA Online Literacy Academy in the Spring. Topics addressed during the course included an overview of literacy development, dyslexia and other reading difficulties, evidence based practice in reading assessment and instruction, including targeted instructional practices in the following sub component skills of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Each topic for the academy was organized into learning modules with a series of readings, exercises, and discussions.

Check out what Warren County teachers had to say about their experience:

  • “I’m looking forward to using many of the strategies that I learned about during the course with my students.”
  • “I learned so much about reading. Understanding the building blocks of reading has truly helped me understand students’ development in reading.”
  • “This is one of the best classes I have ever taken.”
  • “I love all the alphabet and vocabulary activities. I’ve already incorporated them into my lessons.”

Literacy Summit

On February 24th, the Virginia Department of Education hosted a literacy summit in Charlottesville. All division level literacy leads and superintendents were invited to attend the summit along with interested parties from higher education. The summit included keynote talks from Dr. Emily Solari (Professor and Coordinator, Reading Education) and Dr. Anita McGinty (Associate Research Professor and Director of PALS). Dr. Solari was asked to speak about the state of the evidence base for reading instruction. She spoke about the science of reading- what it is and is not- and how teachers and reading specialists can use what we know about the existing empirical data on reading acquisition to implement evidence based practices. She also highlighted difficulties in the educational system with implementation of evidence based practices at the higher education level, state level policy, and division and school instructional decisions. Dr. McGinty reflected on the historic trends evident from PALS data- pointing to the persistent equity gaps and challenges that face Virginia’s most vulnerable learners as a result of early reading difficulty. She showed how combating these trends requires “looking closer” and using the data that PALS offers, while also recognizing the limits of a tool that was designed 20 years ago. Dr. McGinty pointed to three key misunderstandings about PALS and offered ideas for more fully, and accurately, using the information of PALS to support young learners. Following the literacy summit, the Reading Education program released a position statement that describes our approach to developing teachers and reading specialists to be prepared to teach children how to read.

Books We're Reading

What books are you using for professional study at your school? Contact us if you'd like to make recommendations for a future newsletter!

For All Ages

The Next President by Kate Messner is an inspiring and informative book for kids about the past and future of America's presidents. Great for teachers, librarians, and other educators. A helpful addition to curriculums of 5th- to 8th-grade students studying U.S. History and civics and the federal government.

Who will be the NEXT president? Could it be you? When George Washington became the first president of the United States, there were nine future presidents already alive in America, doing things like practicing law or studying medicine. When JFK became the thirty-fifth president, there were 10 future presidents already alive in America, doing things like hosting TV shows and learning the saxophone. And right now—today!—there are at least 10 future presidents alive in America. They could be playing basketball, like Barack Obama, or helping in the garden, like Dwight D. Eisenhower. They could be making art—or already making change.

Click here to watch the author, Kate Messner, read the book aloud!

For Middle Grades

Pie in the Sky, by Remy Lai, is a poignant, laugh-out-loud illustrated middle-grade novel about an eleven-year-old boy's immigration experience, his annoying little brother, and their cake-baking hijinks!

Click here to check out the book trailer!

Click here for a teacher's guide!

For Upper Grades

The Bridge Home, by Padma Venkatraman, is a beautifully written novel about four determined homeless children who must use their instincts and grit to survive. Padma shares with us an unflinching peek into the reality millions of homeless children live every day but also infuses her story with hope and bravery that will inspire readers and stay with them long after turning the final page.

Click here listen to the author read aloud the first chapter!

Click here for teacher resources to support the novel!

We Want to Hear From You!

In upcoming issues of our newsletter you will see a new feature: Say what you mean, Mean what you say. This piece will address topics and reading terms that are widely used (and sometimes misused) by educators and policymakers. Reading@UVA invites our readers to submit their suggestions for commonly used terms, practices, and approaches that you would like to see defined or clarified. Are you interested in learning more about the difference between balanced literacy vs. structured literacy? Want to know more about diversity and equity? Wondering about rapid naming speed or dyslexia?

Click HERE to send us your comments and ideas or make suggestions for our future issues.


We love to hear news from our alums and training participants. Let us know how you are doing!

Interested in PD options for teachers at your school?

Want to bring a reading or writing course to your school/district?

Want to discuss effective literacy coaching for your school/district?

Visit our website HERE.

Contact us today!