Phonemic Awareness, Phonics and Word Analysis, Early Reading and English Language: The Information Teachers Need to Make Good Decisions

Phonemic Awareness, Phonics and Word Analysis, Early Reading and English Language: The Information Teachers Need to Make Good Decisions (K-3)

Who:  Marjorie Y. Lipson, Ph.D, Sara Blake, M.Ed., CAGS and Deborah Boucher, M.Ed., Heidi Mesmer (Part IV only)
What:  A video webinar of each of presentation will be sent two weeks in advance of the “Talking It Out” session to for you to view. The webinar will be used as the anchor for the virtual sessions. This is not the process for Heidi’s portion – that session will be a traditional live virtual presentation.
Time:  3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Cost: All 5 Sessions $500 (includes two anchor texts: Jan Burkins and Kari Yates’ Shifting the Balance and Heidi Mesmer’s Letter Lessons and First Words)
Audience: K-3 teachers of Reading, Reading Coaches, Reading Interventionists

This series is designed to update and expand teachers’ knowledge and expertise in areas that are critical for early reading success.  Each participant will have the opportunity to do a “home renovation” on their own reading program.   In each segment, participants will reflect on their own programs and practices using framing questions and challenges.   A webinar video will be sent to you 2 weeks prior to the date(s) of the session for you to watch and then we’ll have a “Talking it Out” virtual meeting with the presenters on the given date. The series is designed to form a working group of educators who can consider problems of practice during the “Talking it Out” segments.



Part I Introduction to Language and the Reading Process  – October 6th

Learning to read requires an understanding of the phonology (sound system) and orthography (written system) of the language.  Since English is an alphabetic language we will spend quite a lot of time examining the relationship between phonemes (sounds) and graphemes (letters and letter strings).   Participants will consider how descriptions of the reading process (skilled reading) are helpful to understanding reading instruction, but also how learning to read requires distinctive understandings about reading, learning, and teaching.   Developmental considerations can be very helpful in making decisions about content, strategies, materials, and pacing.

Parts II and III:  Phonological Awareness, Phonics and Sight Words: The Nature of the Reading Process and the Content of Early Reading Instruction  – October 27th, November 10 & January 12 

How do children acquire and learn the knowledge and skill needed for early reading (phonemic awareness and phonics)?  We provide/review the developmental nature of these abilities, including specific content knowledge/skills.  We also describe the reciprocal relationships between and among sounds, words, syntactic structures, and vocabulary.   

Part IV: Heidi Mesmer: The Five (Research-Based!) Parts of Phonics Lesson – December 8th

The pandemic of 2020/2021, emergency virtual instruction and the complexities of distanced, masked phonics instruction have produced the need for instruction that optimizes learning and “cuts the fluff.” Based on her recent book, Alphabetics for Emerging Learners: Building Strong Reading Foundations in Pre-K, Mesmer will teach participants the Five (Research Based!) Parts of a Phonics Lesson. The session will focus on specific techniques to accelerate decoding and letter instruction.

Part V:  Improving, Refining, and Reframing Instruction – February 2nd

In this portion, we focus specifically on the information educators need to plan curriculum, assess students, and provide instruction in grades K-3. We will review lesson structure, standards of practice and anchor instructional strategies. 



Order of Talk-it Out Sessions and Video Releases

Date What
Sept. 22 Video 1 release
Oct. 6 Video 1 Talk-it-Out Session
Oct. 14 Video 2 release (longer one)
Oct. 27 Video 2 – Part 1 Talk-it-Out Session
Nov. 10  Video 2 – Part 2 Talk-it-Out Session
Nov. 15 Video 3 Release
Dec. 8 Heidi Mesmer webinar (3:00 – 4:30)
Jan. 12 Video 3 & Heidi Mesmer’s webinar Talk-it-Out Session 
Jan. 15 Video 4 Release
Feb. 2 Video 4 Talk-it-Out Session


Marjorie Y. Lipson, Ph.D.PLL Marge Lipson photo

Marjorie Y. Lipson, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita at the University of Vermont. Marge was elected to the Reading Hall of Fame in 2009 and named UVM University Scholar that same year. Her scholarship has focused on reading comprehension, reading difficulties, and factors influencing literacy success. She is the author or co-author of 7 books and dozens of published articles. Her research related to successful schools and school change has been supported by more than $3 million from foundations and grants. Marge has served on the Board of Directors of the National Reading Conference, and on numerous editorial boards. She co-chaired the International Reading Association (now ILA) Commission on Response to Intervention. Marge has also been involved at the national and international level, working to improve literacy outcomes and equity for students in the U.S, Tanzania, Ghana and the country of Georgia. She irecently co-authored the ILA Brief, Children Experiencing Reading Difficulties: What We Know and What We Can Do.

Sara Blake

Sara Blake, has a M.Ed, CAGS in Literary and Endorsement as a Reading Language Arts Specialist. She was a Reading Specialist in Addison Northwest County for 19 years: Title 1 Teacher, Reading Recovery Teacher, Literacy Coach and Title 1 Coordinator. Currently she is the Literacy Coordinator in Colchester School District for the past 8 years. She has two grown children and lives in Charlotte with her husband and their rescue dog.

Deborah Boucher

Deb Boucher, has a M.Ed and holds both Reading Language Arts Specialist and Pre-K-12 Principal endorsements. She has worked in the MVSD (formerly FNWSU) for her entire career. For the first 23 years, her roles included: Grade 1 classroom teacher, Grades 5 & 6 Literacy and Social Studies teacher, and K-6 Title I Reading & Reading Recovery teacher. This year, Deb is beginning her eighth year as the Literacy Content Specialist/Instructional Coach at Swanton School and 19th year as a District Literacy Leader. Deb lives in Highgate Center with her husband on their dairy farm and enjoys spending time in Mooretown with their daughter, son-in-law, and (soon-to-be) grandchild.

Heidi Mesmer. Ph.D.Partnerships for Literacy and Learning

Heidi Anne E. Mesmer, PhD, is a Professor in Literacy at Virginia Tech.  A former teacher, she has held tenure-earning positions for over 20 years. Dr. Mesmer has studied phonics, beginning reading materials, and text difficulty for her entire career. Her research has appeared in high impact journals including Reading Research Quarterly, The Educational Researcher, Elementary School Journal, and Early Childhood Research Quarterly.She has written and directed 8 grants aimed at improving reading instruction in K-5 classrooms. She is the author of five books, including Letter Lessons and First Words: Phonics Foundations that Work, and her upcoming book Alphabetics for Emerging Learners: Building Strong Reading Foundations in PreK