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Course Information

Promoting Reading Comprehension Skills in the Middle School Classroom*
Course Description

This workshop will help middle school teachers learn about comprehension strategies that students need to apply in order to comprehend a variety of text types. Participants will explore the challenges students commonly experience with different types of text, strategies employed by successful readers, and instructional approaches to support students in developing reading comprehension strategies. Throughout the workshop, participants will gather ideas about designing a lesson plan that focuses on developing students’ use of comprehension strategies. Participants will leave this workshop with many new strategies to implement and resources for fostering the reading comprehension of their students.

*This course was designed for participants who are currently teaching middle school students or whom have previously taught in a middle school.

Course Syllabus

This course will help middle school teachers learn about comprehension strategies that students need to apply in order to comprehend a variety of text types. Participants will explore the challenges students commonly experience with different types of text, strategies employed by successful readers, and instructional approaches to support students in developing reading comprehension strategies. Throughout the course, participants will gather ideas about designing a lesson plan that focuses on developing students’ use of comprehension strategies. Participants will leave this course with many new strategies and resources for fostering the reading comprehension of their students.


Goals and Objectives

During this course, participants will learn skills and strategies to:

Deepen their understanding of the middle school students’ reading development and effective literacy instruction in grades 6-8

Deepen their understanding of strategies students use to comprehend text

Identify students’ use of specific comprehension strategies

Identify effective methods for teaching students comprehension strategies

Deepen their understanding of the demands of diverse genres

Develop lesson plans for teaching strategies for strategies-based instruction and for comprehending expository text

Deepen their understanding of the demands of online text

Analyze the ways in which technology can be used to foster students’ reading comprehension

As a course project, participants will consider the many concepts and strategies covered in this course - direct instruction of strategies, teaching with diverse text types, and using technology to support instruction - and develop a Lesson Plan Project that will best address their students’ reading comprehension needs. The Lesson Plan Project will be evaluated according to the rubric provided to course participants.


This is an introductory course for teachers, technology specialists, curriculum specialists, professional development specialists, or other school personnel. Participants are expected to have regular access to computers. In addition, participants should be proficient with using email, browsing the Internet, and navigating to computer files.

Course Details

This course is divided into seven one-week sessions: an Orientation, and six content-based sessions. Each content session includes readings, activities, and an online discussion among course participants. The time for completing each session is estimated to be 6.5 to 7 hours.

Session One: Understanding Middle School Readers

Session Two: Comprehension Strategies Successful Students Use

Session Three: Providing Direct Instruction in Reading Strategies

Session Four: Exploring the Demands of Diverse Texts

Session Five: Using Technology to Enhance Reading Comprehension

Session Six: Putting It All Together


Specific questions about assessment, expectations, or requirements should be directed to the facilitator of this course.

ETLO recommends that the following criteria be used to determine successful completion of this course:

Participation in all session discussion forums;

Completion of the course’s final project, submitted to the facilitator and/or posted in the appropriate discussion forum; and

Completion of the orientation and final course surveys.

Readings and Activities:
Participants are expected to complete the required course readings and activities as posted in each of the session assignment pages. Optional readings may also be completed, but are not mandatory.

Orientation Quiz & Pre & Post Course Surveys: 
Participants must complete an Orientation Quiz with a score of 90% or higher.  In addition, participants are expected to complete both a pre-course and a post-course surveys. The Orientation Survey is to be completed by Sunday during the Orientation Session and the Final Survey is to be completed by Sunday during Session Six.

Discussion Participation: 
Participants will be evaluated weekly on the frequency and quality of their participation in the discussion forum.  Participants are required to post a minimum of one substantial original posting each session in response to the discussion prompt for that session by Sunday evening. Participants are to respond thoughtfully to a minimum of two colleagues' original postings each session by Monday evening. They are to read all original messages by course participants and enough additional responses to make a total of 50% of the messages posted for that session by Tuesday evening. Postings will be evaluated on their relevance, demonstrated understanding of course concepts, examples cited and overall quality.  


Copyright and Plagiarism

All resources referenced during the course will be properly documented. Copyright guidelines are to be observed throughout the course project and all course activities.  All work associated with course projects, course assignments and course discussions will be original to each course participant. Fair use does not apply to the course project. 

Plagiarism, the reproduction of all or any part of another individual’s or organization’s work, by a course participant of work associated with the course project or other course assignments at any point during the course will result in no credit being awarded for the course.


All grades in the course gradebook must be a "C" for successful course completion.  A grade of "C" indicates that all work has been completed and the work meets the expectations for that assignment.

The grade scheme for this course will be:
C = all work meets the guidelines provided
I = the work submitted is incomplete and/or does not meet the guidelines provided
N = no work has been submitted

Certificates of Completion

Upon successful completion of this course, Promoting Reading Comprehension in the Middle School, participants will receive a Certificate of Completion documenting successful completion of the course requirements. Certificates are distributed to each qualifying participant as a file attachment to the Session Six Dropbox shortly after the completion of the course.  Certificates of Completion are not recognized as being an official course transcript.

Non-Degree Graduate Credit Information

Participants in this course are eligible to receive non-degree graduate credits from either West Virginia University, Concord University. West Virginia State University or Marshall University. Credits will be awarded at the end of the semester in which the course occurs. Additional information is available on the course News/Welcome Page.


This course, Best Practices for Vocabulary Instruction in the Elementary Classroom, will help participants learn and apply the following Common Core English Language Arts Anchor Standards in their teaching: 


Key Ideas and Details
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Craft and Structure
4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity
10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.


Research to Build and Present Knowledge
7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.


Knowledge of Language
3. Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
4. Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.

5. Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

6. Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.

© 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.

This course will help teachers to enable their students to meet the following English Language Arts Standards as defined by the NCTE, The National Council of Teachers of English

1: Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.

2: Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.

3: Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).

11: Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

12: Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

In addition, this course will help participants meet the following ISTE Educational Technology Standards and Performance Indicators for All Teachers

2. Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
Teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessment incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the NETS•S. Teachers:

3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning
Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society.

5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources.

For more information about Technology Integration visit: http://www.iste.org

About this Course

This course was developed by EdTech Leaders Online at Education Development Center, in partnership with Alabama Public Television, and the e-Learning for Educators project, funded by a US Department of Education Ready to Teach grant. Alabama Public Television is the nation's first educational television network and is the lead agency coordinating the eight state E-Learning for Educators collaboration, comprised of state departments of education and public television stations in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the Department of Education and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.