LETRS – Literacy “on Steroids!”

In February of 2011 GPAEA Consultants embarked upon a learning experience that has now been expanded statewide.  Shauna Cutler, Jaci Jarmes and Lori Denz received the first four of thirty-two days of literacy training.  Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) was described that first day as a graduate level learning opportunity in the area of literacy, “on steroids!”

LETRS is not a program of any kind and it does not promote the use of specific programs.  It does however build participant understanding of the underlying processes that facilitate reading in the brain.  State of the art neurological imaging technology and increased attention to the reading achievement of students with disabilities has provided the “perfect storm” for the advancement of research in the field of literacy.  The LETRS materials and authors access the most current of this to build a deep understanding of how to most effectively teach all children to read and write proficiently.  The latest version of some of the modules of LETRS that the training has focused on is only now being published so that the learning is based always on the latest research available.  LETRS continually update the modules to keep current with latest research.

LETRS is made up of 12 Modules

  1. The Challenge of Learning to Read
  2. The Speech Sounds of English: Phonetics, Phonology, and Phoneme Awareness
  3. Spellography for Teachers: How English Spelling Works
  4. The Mighty Word: Building Vocabulary and Oral Language
  5. Getting Up to Speed: Developing Fluency
  6. Digging for Meaning: Teaching Text Comprehension
  7. Teaching Phonics, Word Study, and the Alphabetic Principle
  8. Assessment for Prevention and Early Intervention (K–3)
  9. Teaching Beginning Spelling and Writing
  10. Reading Big Words: Syllabication and Advanced Decoding
  11. Writing: A Road to Reading Comprehension
  12. Using Assessment to Guide Instruction (Grade 3–adult)

As you can see from the list of modules none of the Big Five components of a balanced literacy program have been neglected.  In addition to phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, accuracy and fluency with text, vocabulary, and comprehension, specific attention is paid to the role assessment and writing play in achieving full literacy.

Teachers who engage in this learning will develop background knowledge in the linguistic elements of reading and skills in the use of classroom diagnostic assessment.  This knowledge and skill will enable them to dig down to the root cause of individual student learning difficulty and develop targeted interventions that accelerate the pace of learning for students who struggle.  The course also introduces participants to a wealth of resources that support targeted skills instruction.  GPAEA has added a coaching component that LETRS does not include.  Regional LETRS trainers support participating teachers, on sight, as they implement new knowledge and skills in their classroom.

Great Prairie AEA currently has teachers from eight districts involved in year 1 training and four districts involved in year 2 training.  Many Great Prairie staff members are participating in the training with the schools they support.  Three schools districts are currently sending teachers to become certified trainers for LETRS.  They will then be able to train teachers within their districts (Centerville, Burlington and Fairfield). Great Prairie is sending five additional staff members to become certified trainers for LETRS so that they can provide training to more teachers within Great Prairie AEA.

If you are interested in learning more about how to access training in LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) feel free to contact Lori Denz (lori.denz@gpaea.org), Jaci Jarmes (jaci.jarmes@gpaea.org) or Shauna Cutler (shauna.cutler@gpaea.org).

Lori Denz, Special Education Consultant
(800) 382-8970 ext. 1300

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