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New science of reading training available to teachers through Indiana Department of Education

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Science of reading emphasizes phonics and the rules of the English language. A new law requires schools to align their reading curricula with science of reading.

New state training aims to teach educators about the science of reading, a system that emphasizes phonics and the rules of the English language when teaching children to read. This comes ahead of a new state requirement for schools to align their curricula with the science of reading by 2024.

Anne Elsener, director of literacy programs at Marian University, said she wanted to be involved when she heard the Indiana Department of Education needed someone to create a statewide science of reading course for teachers.

Elsener said she realized the importance of targeted phonics instruction after training she received during her first few years of teaching. Since then, she has become an advocate for teaching the science of reading.

“We need to teach readers from the very simplest building blocks of language, right?,” she said. “B says ‘buh’ and p says ‘puh.’ And then [we teach] how to blend those sounds together to make words, and we keep building to make more complex words and syllables.”

Elsener helped create the new course that will be rolled out to teachers next week. She said it consists of six training modules. The first gives an overview of the science of reading and shares research on the approach. The next four courses focus on phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary and comprehension. The final module goes over assessing student progress.

“Absolutely core in the science of reading is to be able to identify which students are most at risk of being struggling readers, so we can intervene very early with effective instructional practices,” she said.

READ MORE: $111M Lilly Endowment, state funds aim to reverse Indiana’s literacy decline

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Elsener said the modules are specifically designed for pre-K through third grade teachers and educators who teach English language learners and special education classes.

“We wanted to start all the way with information about pre-K because we want teachers to understand how very beginning reading develops. And we know our pre-K teachers are also doing extremely important work,” she said. “You know, they can set the groundwork for what readers learn all the way through the rest of their lives.”

She said the modules should take about 20 to 25 minutes each. Educators will also earn a 25-hour certificate for completing the course. Elsener highly encourages teachers to consider the training.

“I mean, I’ve been a teacher. I know how busy it is,” she said. “Part of, I think, the challenge and why these modules are so important is, if you’re a teacher, you don’t necessarily have a ton of time in your day or after school to be reading or up to date on the most recent research.”

Educators interested in taking the course can sign up next week at the Indiana Learning Lab’s website.

Kirsten is IPB's education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.
Copyright 2023 IPB News.

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