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When elementary school teacher Alison Walters and her School District of Philadelphia colleagues enrolled in AIM’s Pathways to Proficient Reading course, she immediately saw ways she could include activities she learned in her remote classes. What started with a few slides turned into an Online Oral Language Talking Deck that she could share with her peers. AIM was so impressed by the comprehensive tool that we now offer it as a resource to our AIM Pathways community.

Q. Why did you decide to take Pathways to Proficient Reading?

A. My journey through the Science of Reading started more than a year ago and I wanted all of the info I could get and was doing webinars, Facebook events etc. But all of those pieces were disconnected and I knew I needed a way to tie it together to get all of the information in a comprehensive way to help me take all of the info I have and place it and sort it and help me start to solidify what I know with my new learning.

I think teachers don’t know what they don’t know . . . I really believe that by using a systematic approach with evidence-based practices means that we’ll be able to meet the needs of our learners and we’ll know how to provide targeted interventions for those who struggle. Every child has the right to learn to read.


Q. What inspired you to create the Oral Language Talking Deck?

A. When I was working on the oral language section of the Pathways course, that material really spoke to me. Fifteen out of 27 students in my class are English Language Learners and I know the importance of oral language and it is particularly easier when we’re in person and has really been a struggle in virtual learning . . . When I was reading through the activities in the talking deck I started to see different ways that I could sprinkle them in through my day….so I made one slide…and then I made another slide . . . I really like trying to figure out ways to take an in-person experience and finds a way to make it successful virtually. My hope is teachers understand the critical role that oral language plays in a student acquiring reading proficiency. That oral language has to underpin everything we do and if they can use the deck to help students . . . especially those with low language or new to language I think that would be great.


Q. In what ways is AIM Pathways unique from other PD you have taken?

A. I love that there’s that Virtual Community of Practice built in for collaborating and meeting with other teachers. Most of the other things I’ve seen or done didn’t have that piece.

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