[semester equivalent = 1.33 credits]



Mary Ann Johnson



Literacy Strategies for Grades 4 – 12 by Karen Tankersley is a great resource for teachers who need to help students improve understanding of textbooks and develop thinking skills critical to success in secondary education. It is rich in its ideas, and substantiates recommendations with excellent research. It deals both with skills and motivational needs of poor readers as they progress through the grades. There are many encouraging and interesting ideas to make the job of the secondary teacher more successful AND more lively.
This is the second book by Karen Tankersley, amplifying on her highly successful original book Threads of Reading:  Strategies for Literacy Development, in which she explains that the teaching of reading is sequentially based, and continues to develop throughout school years. Her books are very readable, and her creative strategies make a teacher feel like getting started right away.


LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

  1. Acquired engaging and practical ways to help students work in textbooks containing complex vocabulary.
  2. Rekindled motivation and encouragement of 4-12 grade teachers who may not have had sufficient  instruction in reading strategies and yet are responsible for helping all students with reading assignments in their subject areas.
  3. Acquired some special suggestions including on-line resources for teachers whose students include English-Language Learners.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit. The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit.

The use of artificial intelligence is not permitted. Assignment responses found to be generated by AI will not be accepted.

Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participants their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, or Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, and Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering, determine with your district personnel, department head, or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



  • Literacy Strategies for Grades 4—12: Reinforcing the Threads of Reading by Karen Tankersley. 2005, ASCD, 202-pages, ISBN 1-4166-0154-6.
  • For additional reading access an annotated Master Bibliography for this course that enhances any teacher’s toolbox. 

  • LIteracy Strategies for Grades 4-12: Reinforcing the Threads of Reading
    ISBN# 9781416601548
    by Tankersley, Karen

    Buy from Amazon


Text cost is approximately $12.50 used from Amazon.



Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. 
Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 

Assignment #1: Introduction.

Introduce yourself and explain your interest in the topic.
From the “Introduction”  answer the following questions:
What does the “Matthew Effect” mean? 
How has the No Child Left Behind laws changed the way your school operates?  What new pressures do you face that you have not had to deal with in the past? 
Is it realistic to expect all content teachers to learn how to enhance student reading and writing performance even though they have not directly been trained to do this?

Assignment #2: The Struggling Reader.

From Chapter 1: “The Struggling Reader”  
How are struggling readers different from good readers?  What implications do these differences have for classroom teaching? 

Assignment #3: Motivation Ideas.

From Chapter 1:  Cite 2-3 good ideas for motivating the students we have today.  
Learning should be a “social” activity.  How can you build more social interaction and interdependence in your classroom?  OR  How might you incorporate student choice and a greater variety of materials and text levels into your students’ classroom work?

Assignment #4: 3 Strategies.

From Chapter 1:  Select and discuss three (3) strategies that would work best with your students.  The author states that reading aloud by the teacher has positive effects.  Discuss any role that reading aloud has in your classroom.  Describe something you have (or could) read to provide a read aloud experience for your students.

Assignment #5: 3 More Strategies.

From Chapter 2:  “Fluency”   Consider three (3) strategies that you could use with students to provide good modeling or feedback from short oral practices.  OR
From having read the chapter, what strategies have proven least effective in improving student fluency?

Assignment #6: Key Ideas.

From Chapter 3: “Vocabulary”    What were four  key ideas about teaching vocabulary that need to be known before choosing specific activities? 
List at least four(4) new ways to help students build their vocabulary in your classroom or school.

Assignment #7: About Comprehension.

From Chapter 4: “Comprehension”   Why is comprehension the “essence” of reading?  There is a great deal of information in this chapter about the importance of meta-cognition strategies for reading comprehension.  What is the role of meta-cognition in reading?  What are some important meta-cognition reading strategies you can do with your students?
Explain the purpose of pre-reading activities. What are two pre-reading strategies that you haven’t tried, that you would use to improve learning for your students? 

Assignment #8: Enabling Student Thinking.

From Chapter 5: “Higher Order Thinking”   Select several strategies that you use or may use to enable higher level student thinking.  Why do they seem to be effective?  Examine some children’s books on content material that you teach.  How can you (or did you) incorporate a children’s book on a key topic into your lesson plans?

Assignment #9: 5 Key Understandings.

From the Conclusion and Appendices:  After reading this book, what are five key understandings about reading that you now have?  What is a key learning you took from any of the three Appendices?



In this section, you will apply your learning to your professional situation. This course assumes that most participants are classroom teachers who have access to students. If you do not have a classroom available to you, please contact the instructor for course modifications. Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. ​Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 


Assignment #10: Lesson Development.

Assignment #10:   (Required for 400 and 500 Level)
Assignment #10-A:
  • Adapt a lesson reflecting what you’ve learned in this course.
  • Implement your lesson with students.
  • Write a 250-500 word commentary on what worked well and what could be improved.
  • Include any student feedback on your lesson.
  • Share what you’ve learned with other teachers taking our courses by adding your Lesson to The Heritage Institute Lesson Library here.
  • For a sample lesson plan template click here.
  • Submit your modified lesson to your instructor via the online response box or file upload.
Assignment #10-B:
  • Adapt a lesson reflecting what you’ve learned in this course. (Do not implement it.)
  • Share your learning with other teachers by contributing your Lesson to The Heritage Institute Lesson Library here.
  • Write a 500+ word article about a noteworthy teaching success you’ve had with one or more students.
  • Please refer to the guidelines on our blog What Works: Teaching at its Best prior to writing your article.
  • When you submit your article to your instructor, please also email a copy to Renee Leon THI blog curator and media specialist.
  • Indicate whether or not you are OK with having your article considered for publishing on our website. 
  • Submit your lesson to your instructor via the response box or file upload.

Assignment #11: (500 Level ONLY)

In addition to the 400 level assignments, complete one (1) of the following assignment options:   
Option A)  Compare and contrast the material in this book with information you find in another book or online research of articles.  For online research, quote any important URL.  Write a summary of information you found, and then compare/contrast with information in the course text.
Option B)  Create an Annotated Bibliography of five (5) books or articles related to the subject of this course.  The annotation should include Title, Author, Publisher (or URL), length of the book or article and your review of information contained.  Add your opinion of the value or your criticism of the contents of each book or article, and rate the importance of the material in contrast to the subject of the course.


Assignment #12: (Required for 400 and 500 level)

(Please do not write this paper until you've completed all of your other assignments)

Write a 400-500 word Integration Paper answering these 5 questions:

  1. What did you learn vs. what you expected to learn from this course?
  2. What aspects of the course were most helpful and why?
  3. What further knowledge and skills in this general area do you feel you need?
  4. How, when and where will you use what you have learned?
  5. How and with what other school or community members might you share what you learned?


Instructors will comment on each assignment. If you do not hear from the instructor within a few days of posting your assignment, please get in touch with them immediately.


Mary Ann Johnson, M.Ed Adm. has worked with students of all levels, from alternative high school to gifted classes. She has also been a junior high vice principal and is now working with teachers for continuing education in classes, distance learning and building leadership groups. She is a teacher emeritus who has led seminars for educators which focus on developing a quality learner environment for students and for teachers. Her courses are research-based and resonate with user-friendly and energizing content.



ALLINGTON. R, What Really Matters for Struggling Readers: Designing Research-Based Programs. New York: Addison-Wesley Longman, 2001.  This book includes research on the best practices for building fluency, comprehension skills and interventions that work for struggling readers and writers. It is easy to understand and practical. We know that good readers tend to be good writers, and so this book helps your students have the skills to become strong readers.
ANDERSON, Jeff. Everyday Editing. Portland, ME, Stenhouse Publishers, 2007.  Move your students beyond the fear of the red pen. You will learn how to use mentor sentences and best practices to tackle “grammarphobia.” You will learn to teach writing and editing in a way that students not only understand, but also enjoy. The book is friendly to read and does not make you feel stupid about grammar.
ANDERSON, Jeff. Mechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer's Workshop. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers, 2005.  Mechanically Inclined is the culmination of years of experimentation that merges the best of writer's workshop elements with relevant theory about how and why skills should be taught. It connects theory about using grammar in context with practical instructional strategies, explains why kids often don't understand or apply grammar and mechanics correctly, focuses on attending to the “high payoff,” or most common errors in student writing, and shows how to carefully construct a workshop environment that can best support grammar and mechanics concepts.
FERLAZZO, Larry and HULL- SYPNIESKI, Katie, Navigating the Common Core with English Language Learners: Developing Higher-Order Thinking Skills, J-B Ed:  Survival Guides, 2016, 370 pages.  Continuing the practical lesson plans and strategies from their recent previous book, The ESL/ELLTeacher’s Survival Guide, this book goes one further with specific strategies to guide  the intermediate and more advanced ELL students in their core subjects.  In addition, all downloadable versions of lesson plans and student handouts are available off-line through the publisher, along with a supplemental chapter about the arts for ELL’s and another for counselors by a high school counselor.
FERLAZZO, Larry and HULL-SYPNIESKI, Katie, The ESL/ELL  Teacher’s Survival Guide, Ready-to-Use Strategies, Tools, and Activities for Teaching All Levels, Grades 4-12, pb 322 pages, Joseey-Bass, 2012.  ISBN: 978-1-118-09567-6  The authors have designed a thorough handbook to offer educators specific ways to set up their ELL-friendly classroom, develop relationships with students and their parents, and provide motivating strategies for their students.  Larry Ferlazzo, one of the authors, is the highly acclaimed author of books on motivation, including Helping Students Motivate Themselves.  The book is full of reproducible forms, worksheets and lesson plans for thematic units.  Teachers comment that it is helpful, both for beginners and experienced ELL teachers.
GALLAGHER, Kelly, In the Best Interest of Students:  Staying True to What Works in the ELA Classroom, Stenhouse, 2015, pb, 238 pages.  If you teach grades 5-12, you will love the ideas in this book.  Kelly Gallagher models some of the funniest, most relevant, and most intriguing prompts for student writing that you will have to use yourself.  He begins many of the examples with his own writing, and from there, students rise to the challenge of joining him in the fun.  He is committed to challenging student thinking and skill-building, but he continuously bursts forth with the freshest, most exciting ideas for a teacher to use with students of all levels.