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AIM Institute for Learning & Research

Science of Reading Blog

At AIM, we are committed to helping educators and leaders unlock the power of the Science of Reading in their schools, districts and states with evidence-based structured literacy training and content.

In order to share useful information to support our universal goal of helping all struggling readers, we launched our Science of Reading Blog featuring weekly “Tuesday Teaching Tips” dedicated to translating the latest in the Science of Reading research into practical classroom application.

We hope that you enjoy, comment and share with others.

To be notified when new blogs are posted, be sure to click on the orange bell icon and sign up for alerts.


Using Poetry to Develop Foundational Skills, Comprehension & Background Knowledge

Today, many students experience reading difficulties, which can take the joy out of literacy. As we quickly approach National Poetry Month in April, let’s see how poetry can be used to develop foundational skills, comprehension, and background knowledge! 

Poetry Tree Corner Image

Foundational Skills

   Nursery rhymes are a form of poetry that can support students’ development of oral language skills, alphabetic knowledge, and print knowledge. These poems can be read, sung, or chanted, and adding actions while doing so can increase the fun and motivation to read!  But why are these poems so powerful in assisting the development of foundational skills? Nursery rhymes…

  • Promote listening and speaking skills

  • Develop an awareness of ending patterns 

  • Provide practice with identifying and categorizing sounds

  • Increase vocabulary knowledge

Tip: To maximize the use of nursery rhymes, a poetry tree can be displayed in the corner of your classroom. Students can visit the poetry tree daily to review a newly displayed poem. You can also make each student a poetry folder filled with learned poems for them to take home to enjoy with family.


Learning to Read

Skilled reading, or reading fluency, involves three components – accuracy, automaticity, and expression, or prosody. Students who are learning to crack the code benefit from repeated reading techniques to develop strong decoding skills. Children often love rhymes, patterns and rich language, so poetry is an effective way to explore these nuances. As children learn to read, poetry can..

  • Enhances students’ use of descriptive language through observation and various senses

  • Increase vocabulary knowledge

  • Provide a fun way to practice reading fluency skills

Tip: In the classroom, teachers can engage students in a repeated reading routine by introducing the poem, discussing any unfamiliar words or vocabulary, modeling fluent reading of the poem, and using questions to draw attention to alliteration or rhymes.  Next, students read the poem aloud chorally.  In addition, students can practice reading to a partner several times. The poem can also be taken home and read aloud to an adult to spread the pleasure of reading poetry into their home.


Reading to Learn

The focus in upper elementary shifts from learning to read to reading to learn, so students are ready to transition from reading poetry to analyzing poetry. Teachers can utilize poetry to support students development of the skills represented in the upper strands of the rope. At this point, consider using poetry to..

  • Define important terminology (rhythm, rhyme, meter, scheme, verse, stanza, imagery, alliteration, mood, onomatopoeia)

  • Bolster comprehension (explore figurative language, identify speaker perspective, understand theme, identify literary elements like setting, conflict, resolution, make connections, etc.)

  • Increase syntactic awareness though parsing

  • Expand vocabulary

  • Encourage self expression

Tip: Songs can be a form of poetry that students are sure to enjoy exploring. Explicitly teaching students to find and annotate figurative language in song lyrics or making connections to what they see and hear and how it makes them feel can be a fun way to engage in deep comprehension.

As you can see, there are lots of opportunities for students to gain an awareness of and appreciation for poetry during National Poetry Month and beyond. Feel free to filter to "poetry" results in the Reading Rockets book finder for texts that you or your colleagues may own or want to locate to support your lessons. Enjoy!

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Past Tuesday Teaching Tips

Black History Month

As we continue to honor Black History Month, this week’s Tuesday Teaching Tip examines the relationship between dialect and learning to read. Key take away for teachers: there is no ‘right’ way to speak. 

  • African American English
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Read More about Tuesday Teaching Tips: The Relationship Between Dialect and Learning to Read
Black History Month Banner Image

To honor and celebrate Black History Month, our February Tuesday Teaching Tips posts will be dedicated to deepening our understanding African American English (AAE). African American English is a dialect with a rich history and deliberate origin. Like all dialects, AAE is a valid language system that is rule-governed with many linguistic properties functioning together. All students should be taught the legitimacy and history of their language. Do you know the history of AAE?

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Read More about Tuesday Teaching Tips: History of African American English
Decoding Prompts Image

It might be overwhelming to consider overhauling everything to create a good structured literacy classroom at once. Instead consider these two tenants

  1. You can’t change EVERYTHING, but you also can’t make excuses to change NOTHING.
  2. Act small, plan big!

Take some time to prioritize what you can change within the next few days, next unit, and next year using a few examples found here.

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Read More about Tuesday Teaching Tips: Next Day, Next Unit, Next Year: A Timeline to Align Your Classroom to the Evidence
Dictation Example Image

Data should always be the starting point for diagnostic, prescriptive instruction. Opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning appear daily. Learn about three formative assessment opportunities that can be incorporated into your classroom right away!

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Read More about Tuesday Teaching Tips: Daily Assessment Opportunities for Student Learning
Decodable Text Samples

Dr. Hollis Scarborough's Reading Rope clearly shows that skilled reading requires reading with increasing automaticity. But throwing students into texts that they’re not equipped to decode accurately does more harm than good. This blog explains the difference between decodable and leveled readers so that teachers make informed decisions that are best for their students.

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Read More about Tuesday Teaching Tips: What is the Difference Between Decodable and Leveled Readers?
Anecdotal Records Example

To meet your goal of being more data-driven and responsive to students’ needs in 2023, consider a simple solution to remaining organized, a data binder, to guide your small group instruction. 

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Read More about Tuesday Teaching Tips: Data Binders Can Simplify Your Implementation Process
Word Matrices to Teach Students to Infer Word Meaning Image

Ring in the New Year with Literacy Best Practices!

The beginning of a new year is always exciting and refreshing. It is truly the perfect time to self-reflect on best practices for a healthier you and making 2023 the best it can be! As an educator, self-reflecting on your classroom practices is worthy of your time, and re-establishing effective practices can be a powerful tool to revive your passion for teaching and maximize your students’ success. Learn three best practices to maximize students' literacy skills.

  • Literacy Best Practices
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Read More about Tuesday Teaching Tips: Sprinkle Best Practices Throughout Literacy Lessons
Tuesday Teaching Tips: Embedding Principles of Structured Literacy Within a Sound Wall

Have a sound wall, but not sure where to go from there? This week's Tuesday Teaching Tips post focus on ways to support learner with three principles to embed in your sound wall work. Embed these three structured literacy principles into your work to get the most out of your time!

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Read More about Tuesday Teaching Tips: Embedding Principles of Structured Literacy Within a Sound Wall
Phoneme Pronunciation Examples from Rollins Center for Language and Literacy

We're sure you’ve heard of the importance of early literacy skills, like developing students’ phonological sensitivity and phonemic awareness abilities. But, accurate production of speech sounds is another indispensable foundational skill that is often overlooked. Today’s focus is on sound production and ways to teach our students this formidable underpinning. Engage in these three tips to start the literacy journey on the right track: Check Your Pronunciations, Clip Those Sounds and Build on What Students Know.

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  • early childhood
Read More about Tuesday Teaching Tips: Sound Production - Begin With the Basics
Team Takeaways: Effective Teacher Training Techniques

The Research Partnership for Professional Learning recently published a paper that found the most effective teacher training focuses on improving instructional practices in day-to-day practice. At AIM, we echo these sentiments and have developed courses that promote evidence-based best practices in comprehensive literacy instruction. If we strive to empower lives through literacy, we must carefully curate professional learning experiences with five key principles, shared in a recent Education Week article by Madeline Will, in mind. Read more about what works in professional teacher learning.

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Read More about Team Takeaways: Effective Teacher Training Techniques
Segmented and Connected Phonation

We’ve all been there before. A student can segment words with ease, but when it comes time to blend all letter-sounds to produce the whole word, students often guess or make a mistake. Today’s blog post will focus on continuous blending as a promising technique to support early decoding efforts.

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  • early childhood
Read More about Tuesday Teaching Tips: Try this connected technique to teach your students to blend!
Mnemonic Card Example Exercise

Efficient decoding is dependent upon accuracy and automaticity in pairing letters to the sounds they represent. Take a moment to read about an effective approach that accelerates the acquisition of this foundational knowledge.

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  • early childhood
Read More about Tuesday Teaching Tips: An Animated Approach for Acquiring Letter-Sound Knowledge!
Phonemic Awareness Skill Progression Chart

Early instruction activities to develop phonemic awareness can begin in preschool with formal instruction that typically spans through early first grade.

Emergent readers don’t need to sit down for long stretches of time to practice these skills, but rather, a few minutes of daily instruction is sufficient. Of the skills in the continuum, research directly supports three essential PA skills: Sounds isolation, Blending and Segmentation.

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Read More about Tuesday Teaching Tips: The 3 Most Essential Phonemic Awareness Skills that Directly Support Early Reading and Spelling
4 Steps to Developing Print Awareness Thumbnail

Young children, also known as pre-alphabetic readers according to Ehri’s Phases, are typically introduced to the world of literacy when stories are read at home or in their first school environment. To get the most out of these interactive reading experiences with young children, follow these four essential steps before, during, and after reading to develop early print awareness and some essential habits of good readers.

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Read More about Tuesday Teaching Tips: 4 Easy Steps to Developing Print Awareness and a Love of Reading
Dyslexia Books Collage

Achieving literacy for all students IS an attainable goal, and knowledge is the starting point! So, whether you are a parent, teacher, interventionist, or student with dyslexia, it is our job to seek out information to advocate for our students, children, or ourselves. Please don't delay, and jump in with us as we learn all about dyslexia through some of our top favorite books.

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Read More about Tuesday Teaching Tips: Top Favorite Books About Dyslexia
Special Education Cycle Image

Early identification of dyslexia and intervention are critical. AIM's Characteristics of Dyslexia Checklist was created to support educators as they identify characteristics of dyslexia. Although this checklist is not intended to make a diagnosis, it is a great tool to use for those concerned about a student's performance. Teachers and parents may use this checklist to consolidate multiple sources of information.  

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Read More about Tuesday Teaching Tips: Characteristics of Dyslexia
Wear Red Day 2022

October, a month dedicated to dyslexia and learning disabilities awareness, is the perfect time to launch AIM’s Science of Reading blog. Dyslexia Awareness Month was officially recognized by the US Congress in 2015 and is an important time focused on deepening the understanding of dyslexia, dispelling misconceptions, and advocating for improved teacher training opportunities for all educators.

Learn how everyone in your community can play a part in raising awareness of dyslexia.

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Read More about Tuesday Teaching Tips: October is Dyslexia Awareness Month!

Discover AIM Pathways

AIM Pathways professional learning opportunities provide comprehensive courses grounded in evidence-based practice in the science of reading. IDA-accredited courses and courses to support education leaders and administrators feature coaching sessions with expert AIM facilitators to support classroom implementation.

Learn More