Asynchronous Courses on Teaching Reading and Writing

The Reading Portal

The Reading PortalTM is the newest addition to the supports we offer teachers and school leaders around the teaching of reading and writing. On The Reading Portal, you’ll find a suite of asynchronous, self-paced courses on key topics in literacy instruction. A summary of our initial offerings are listed below, with more to come soon.

These courses are perfects for districts who don’t have common PD time to dedicate to these topics, or for teachers who prefer to have access to tutorials and information to come back to again and again as the year progresses.

For information on school or district licenses, please contact us. Individuals can purchase 6-month access to courses here. We hope to see you inside one of our courses!

Distance Learning Series

Inside a Synchronous ELAR Lesson (2 hours)

This course shows an entire synchronous lesson from start to finish, with tips for moving each section of the lesson to the virtual environment along the way. 


  • I Do
  • We Do
  • You Do
  • Turn and Talks
  • Stop and Jots
  • Small Group Work Time
  • Social Resilience Strategies for Opening and Closing
  • Brain Breaks
Engaging Students in Distance ELAR Instruction (1.5 hours)

Step-by-step tutorials on how to design and implement engaging activities for students to complete in either the synchronous or asynchronous environment.


  • Stops and Jots with Zoom and Padlet (demo and tutorial)
  • Using Google Documents for Collaborative Activities (demo and tutorial)
  • Creating Interactive Letter and Word Sorts (tutorial)
  • Screen Breaks
  • Virtual Four Corners & This or That (tutorial)
  • Turn and Talks and Small Groups Using Breakout Rooms (demo and tutorial)
  • Annotating Texts (tutorial)


Creating Instructional Videos for Asynchronous Instruction (2.5 hours)

This course will introduce you to the research around instructional videos, including ideas for including pause points, best practices for using note-catchers, and creating homework assignments that build teacher/student and student/student connection.

This course also has step-by-step tutorials on recording and editing videos using various programs. Included in the program cost is the opportunity to submit an instructional video of your own and receive feedback.


  • Designing Instructional Videos
    • Overview of Best Practices
    • Designing Slides that Keep Students’ Attention
    • Using Guided Note-catchers
    • Pause Points
    • Ideas for Collecting Homework
  • Recording Videos
    • Comparision of Common Recording Programs
    • Tutorial: How to Record Videos Using Zoom
    • Tutorial: How to Record Videos Using PowerPoint
    • Tutorial: How to Record Videos Using Screencast-o-matic
  • Editing Videos
    • Tutorial: Editing Videos with Screencast-o-matic
    • Making Your Videos Interactive
    • Using EdPuzzle to Insert Interactive Pause Points

Asynchronous and Synchronous Instruction: Tips and Blended Learning Models - 2 hours

This course covers tips and best practices for both synchronous and asynchronous instruction and blended learning models that can be used in both. If you are new to the distance learning environment or want to learn more about how to take advantage of either situation, this course will leave you with ideas that you can immediately implement in your classrooms.


  • Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Learning
    • Overview and Key Differences
    • Pros and Cons
    • A Look at the Research
    • Balancing Synchronous and Asynchronous Instruction
    • Ideas for Using Your Synchronous Time
    • Lesson Length and Suggestions for Offline Tasks
    • The Accountability and Feedback Loop
    • Differentiating Instruction
    • The Hybrid Model: What Should You Prioritize for In-person Learning?
    • Tips for Using Social Media for Distance Learning
  • Blended Learning Models
    • Choice Boards
    • Flipped Lessons
    • Hyperdocs 

Early Literacy Series

Phonological Awareness (3 hours)

This course provides preschool and early elementary school teachers with an overview of phonological awareness. Participants will review the various components of phonological awareness, in addition to Tier 1 and intervention activities that are appropriate for each area. It includes ideas for both in-person and online phonological awareness instruction, in addition to examples of how these skills can be developed through simple at-home activities by parents and guardians.

Topics include:

  • Scarborough’s Rope and the importance of phonological awareness in the reading process
  • The developmental timeline of phonological awareness and activities to address each area, including sentence segmentation, alliteration, syllable awareness, rhyming, onsets and rimes, and phonemic awareness
  • The role of auditory discrimination activities in phonological awareness instruction
  • How to progress monitor key phonological awareness skills
  • Activities families can do at home to strengthen phonological awareness
Phonemic Awareness (3 hours)

In this course, participants will learn the why and how of building phonemic awareness in our youngest students through strong Tier 1 instruction and targeted intervention. It includes ideas for both in-person and online phonemic awareness instruction, in addition to examples of how these skills can be developed through simple at-home activities by parents and guardians.

Topics include:

  • Scarborough’s Rope and the importance of phonemic awareness instruction in the reading process
  • The hierarchy of difficulty for phonemic awareness skills and activities
  • How to describe and teach phonemes based on the manner and place of articulation
  • Continuous vs. stop phonemes 
  • Strategies to use to develop phonemic awareness (e.g., blending arms, Elkonin boxes, word chains)
  • How to progress monitor for phonemic awareness
  • Activities that adults can do at home to strengthen phonemic awareness
Emergent Writing (3 hours)

In this course, participants will learn about writing instruction in the preschool and early elementary classrooms. After reviewing the importance of language development and its connection to writing, participants will learn about the writing process and developmentally appropriate strategies for our young learners.

Topics include: 

  • Language development
  • The connection between gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and handwriting, and activities to develop each
  • Ideas for authentic writing assignments for various grade levels
  • Generative, conceptual, and procedural knowledge and the connection to writing development
  • The writing process
Alphabet Knowledge (1.5 hours)

In this course, participants will learn about research and best practices in developing alphabet knowledge with our youngest learners. The course will focus on why it is important to move away from  a “Letter of the Week” model of introducing letters and what characteristics to think about when teaching letters in an engaging way.

Topics include:

  • The research around alphabet instruction
  • Ideas for developing a scope and sequence for alphabet instruction that is based on letter sounds, names, shapes, and interest
  • The purpose of common alphabet activities and research-based alternatives
  • Ideas for at-home activities that families can do with their children to develop letter awareness

Text-dependent Instruction Series

Analyzing Texts (1.5 hours)

This course covers how to analyze texts during the planning process. We know we need to read texts before using them in a lesson, but how do we decide if they are worthy of instructional time, and whether they are appropriate for small group, whole group, or independent reading? This course reviews the factors of text complexity and includes exercises for teachers to analyze texts on their own.


  • Quantiative Factors of Text Complexity
  • Qualitative Factors of Text Complexity (related to the TEKS)
  • Considering the Reader and Task When Selecting Texts
Close Reading With the TEKS (4.5 hours)

This course provides 3rd-12th grade teachers with an understanding of the close reading process, why it is an important component of the ELAR classroom, and how to plan a close reading lesson. 


  • What is Close Reading?
  • Examining Culminating Tasks
  • Writing Strong, TEKS-aligned Text-dependent Questions
  • Putting it All Together: Planning a Close Reading Lesson