Toolkits to Support Reading Comprehension Institute: Grades K-8

Sunday, October 13 - Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Grade: K-8
Featuring: Brooke Geller, Hannah Kolbo, Shanna Schwartz, Anna Sheehan, Dani Sturtz, with Marjorie Martinelli

Please note this institute takes place over Columbus Day weekend.

When you have a few tools ready, you enter conferences and small groups with a sense of power. The same is true for readers. When they have a few tools they know how to use well, they read with more power. This institute is about helping you and your readers feel more prepared and more powerful. We define reading toolkits broadly to include the charts, mentor jots, micro-progressions, practice texts, and other tools that make your teaching more concrete, specific, and more responsive to each students’ needs.

You’ll be encouraged to think carefully about your students and the curriculum before you launch into developing tools to help them. What gets in your students’ way? What could make a huge difference? What are the essentials that you resolve to be sure your students grasp? As you reflect on what your students can already do and what they need, we’ll encourage you to think about your readers’ processes and growth as well as their raw data. We’ll help you develop a deeper understanding of the bands of text complexity. As you learn the key challenges that are present in texts at each of these bands, this can inform the reading tools you’ll want to have on hand.

Doing this work well requires a deep understanding of the skills that underlie reading comprehension. Across the institute, we’ll ask ourselves questions like, “What exactly am I thinking as I consider how one part of the text fits with another text or with the rest of the text?” and we’ll break down the steps we go through as readers to comprehend texts. There will be time to dig into and understand these skills as adults and time, also, to practice using them.

All too often tools become trivial, swamping kids. A big part of the institute will be an effort to help you use the tools well in conferences and small groups. It’s important to remember that the goal is NOT to make or to use as many tools as possible. The goal, instead, is to dramatically ratchet up the level of your students’ work. This institute, then, will prioritize making sure that every time you offer a scaffold to students, you have a plan in place for helping the student outgrow that scaffold. As part of this, you can expect to develop ideas for how to engage students in designing their own tools and in using these to support themselves and their peers. The goal will be self-directed, engaged learning and always, always reading growth.

Expect to see pictures and examples galore that will spur your imagination, and to spend time creating the tools you’ll use in your own school and role-playing how you’ll use them. Above all, expect to leave this institute feeling inspired with a renewed energy that will fuel your teaching!


$650/$600 NYC DOE


This institute will take place at the Teachers College campus.
Teachers College, Columbia University
525 W 120th Street
New York, NY