PLL offers a variety of literacy courses that address foundational literacy information, current topics in research and practice, and literacy coaching to name a few.  We also can tailor courses to meet the needs of districts or schools. Our courses rotate throughout the year.  To keep informed of what our offerings are, visit our website often or sign up for our email updates.


The Many Faces of Literacy Instruction

Saint Michael’s College Credits: 3
Dates: February 1 – May 3, 2021
Contact Hours: 60+ online hours, asynchronous
Intended audience: teachers of grades K-12
Instructor:  Ellen A. Thompson, Ed.D., Instructor of Record

This course will bring sensibility to all that is needed in our literacy instruction to encourage and produce readers who really are engaged in their reading.  As teachers we balance what is needed to make each learner successful.  Using the text, Distance Learning Playbook, written by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie, we will develop the high impact learning experiences needed to push our readers into that engaged deep thinking mode whether they are face-to-face with us or not.  The text will provide much knowledge on how to increase student understanding without eliminating the joy that real reading can bring. Participants will work within their current units of study (or new ones) to increase the learning potential for students.

Through this course, participants will understand and demonstrate:

  • the vital components of effective literacy teaching
  • what we know all learners need to be successful, no matter their learning environment
  • the use of an intentional design, purposeful learning materials, evidenced based reading instruction
  • the strategic groupings of students based on data combine to create powerful learning for all students
  • use of a Learning Management System to gain new content information, contribute to large group and strand discussions, hand in and share assignments, and discuss readings and more


Vocabulary Is Comprehension

Saint Michael’s College Credits: 3
Time Frame:  February 1, 2021 – May 17, 2021

Contact Hours:  60+ online hours, asynchronous
Intended audience: teachers of grades 3-8
Instructor:  Ellen A. Thompson, Ed.D., Instructor of Record

A student’s ability to read depends largely on the size and quality of his or her vocabulary. However, despite that fact, vocabulary instruction has not evolved to the same degree as instruction in word recognition, comprehension, and other areas of literacy.  Participants will be guided by Vocabulary is Comprehension: Getting to the Root of Text Complexity written by Laura Robb.  We will delve into the use of effective instructional strategies to promote deeper understanding on the part of students. Participants will consider how to plan this instruction for both face-to-face and remote audiences.

Through this course, participants will understand and demonstrate:

  • an understanding of the research on the importance of teaching vocabulary
  • the importance vocabulary acquisition has on developing as a reader
  • the expectations for teaching and supporting vocabulary acquisition and use
  • a plan for vocabulary instruction for their students which supports their comprehension of words even in complex reading
  • use a Learning Management System to gain new content information, contribute to large group discussions, hand in and share assignments, and discuss readings, etc.



Rolling Open Enrollment Course

Explorations in Literacy Instruction
…what every teacher needs to know to help all learners be successful.

3 graduate credits: Saint Michael’s College
Rolling Open Enrollment
Contact Hours: 7 modules,  50+ online hours
Intended audience: teachers of grades K-8
Instructor of Record:  Ellen A. Thompson, Ed. D.

Contact PLL for information and/or to enroll in this Explorations in Literacy Course –

Course Description:  This learning exploration is designed to reawaken what we know to be best practices for the teaching of literacy.  It will uncover the critical components needed for a comprehensive and balanced literacy approach. Of great importance will be the discussion of the multiple types of small group instruction, their various purposes and uses within the classroom instructional plan. Participants will also look at how these components are organized in a real classroom with real learners on a daily basis. It is critical that these best practices are connected within a relevant and purposeful instructional stance.  What our students read and write matters.  How much they read and write matters.  What they do with what they read and write matters!

As teachers are experiencing literacy instruction in new and differing ways this year, much discussion will be on creating both face-to-face as well as hybrid teaching experiences for our learners.

This fully online course will allow participants to understand more completely what the expectations are for their teaching of literacy within the context English-Language Arts Common Core State Standards (ELA CCSS).  All participants will use a cloud-hosted Learning Management System to gain new content information, contribute to large group and strand discussions, hand in and share assignments, and discuss readings, slide shows, & videos.

Learning Objectives:

As a result of active participation in this course, students will:

  1. Explore deeply reading instruction for elementary/middle level students.
  2. Understand the importance the literacy components have on assuring our students read well.
  3. Explore the organization of the literacy block, in ways that better support all learners.
  4. Reflect and discuss in ways that disrupt our own thinking, challenging us to grow as teachers.
  5. Consider the implications this work has on classroom practice to map out a strategic plan for classroom-based applications.
  6. Research the multiple grouping strategies that allow teachers to provide the most responsive instruction for all students.
  7. Collaborate with colleagues to develop a community of learners to support this new learning
  8. Reflect and discuss the many issues related to the teaching of reading/writing/assessment/CCSS shifts.
  9. Engage in dialogue concerning current reading/writing policies and practices

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Participants will understand the components of comprehensive literacy instruction, beginning with the content and moving into instructional practices
  2. Participants will explore the big ideas of literacy instruction with other colleagues adding to their deeper understandings
  3. Participants will understand the differences within small group instruction to maximize both student learning and engagement.
  4. Participants will explore digital technologies to incorporate into their teaching that support reading that matters instruction


Ellen A. Thompson has been an educator for over 43 years.  She taught as a classroom teacher in Vermont for over twenty years with many of those years in a multiage setting teaching children aged 6-9 years of age. Ellen was named the Vermont State Teacher of the Year in 1993 and she achieved her National Board Certification as an Early Childhood Generalist in 1999. Ellen began consulting nationally in 1993 and has continued this work throughout her years as an educator.  Upon leaving the classroom, Ellen joined the Elementary Education literacy faculty at the University of Vermont in 2000.  At the University, she taught undergraduate literacy courses, supervised student teachers and also worked as a literacy consultant in two large scale literacy research projects which spanned the grades K-6. For twelve years Ellen worked with the Essex Town School District as the Director of Instruction and Information Services.  During this time, Ellen completed her doctoral studies in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Vermont in the fall of 2007.  After the merging of the Essex Town School District and the Chittenden Central Supervisory Union, Ellen continued working with educators in the newly created Essex Westford School District as the Director of Learning Design.  Ellen is currently a literacy consultant for Partnerships in Literacy and Learning.