Early Reading Strategies: Evidence-Based Practice for Students with Developmental Disabilities

2015 Early Reading Strategies Summer Institute

Early Reading Strategies: Evidence-Based Practice for Students with Developmental Disabilities

Co-sponsored by the Family Support Institute of BC

This is a non-credit event. See Registration & Fees for details.

Students with developmental disabilities can (and should!) learn to read and write, no matter what age they are or what stage of literacy development they have reached. In this professional development opportunity participants will learn about current perspectives on assessment and instruction with emphasis on contemporary issues and evidence-based instructional strategies.

An intentional, systematic and sequenced approach to planning and instruction will be introduced and applied throughout the Institute. You will be introduced to tools for assessing the development of reading skills (even in nonverbal individuals) and learn how to match instruction to a student’s stage of development. The focus will be on supporting individuals with developmental disabilities at beginning stages of learning to read, regardless of age, grade or ability level. Participants will receive guided support in selecting goals and objectives, instructional strategies, materials and resources as well as a DVD of resources at the completion of the 3 days. 

Intended Outcomes

Participants will be able to:

  • Describe the continuum of approaches to reading instruction for typical students and the way in which different approaches have been applied to students with developmental disabilities;
  • Describe the connection between language and literacy;
  • Identify and apply the stages of early reading development for students with developmental disabilities;
  • Select appropriate goals and objectives to match those stages;
  • Apply criteria for choosing books and other text materials to match a student’s stage of reading development;
  • Plan for instruction so that instructional strategies match a student’s stage of skill development;
  • Complete a Literacy Profile for a student including:
    • Strengths, challenges and interests
    • Identified stage of reading
    • Priority goals and objectives
    • Instructional strategies aligned with the stage
    • Procedures for monitoring progress
  • Plan for instructional components that combine both skills and meaning and result in a comprehensive reading approach;
  • Apply decision rules for selecting materials, resources and commercially available programs.

Learning Experiences

Each day will include practical strategies and planning opportunities to apply concepts introduced. Learning experiences will include:

  • lectures
  • guided small group and whole group discussions
  • sharing of professional experiences
  • viewing videotapes that depict critical issues or best practices
  • personal reflections about topics and learning experiences


Day 1

Know The Thinking
Know The Evidence
Know Your Student

  • That Was Then; This Is Now: Evolving Views Of Literacy Potential
  • Stages of beginning literacy development in typical children: can we apply these to individuals with cognitive impairments?
  • The Snapshot Assessment: An Informal Inventory Of Early Literacy Behaviours
  • Aligning goals and objectives to the stages of literacy development
  • Books for Learning to Read: How to choose, adapt and create books
  • Materials and Resources: commercially available or available for download from the internet
    • what’s available? (you might be surprised)
    • what are the decision rules for selecting appropriate reading programs and other resources?
Day 2
Frameworks For Instruction in Literacy Areas
  • Approaches to the teaching of reading
  • Organizing for instruction: Focus on phonics? Focus on meaning? How about both?
    • Building foundation skills
    • The five pillars of reading instruction
    • A balanced literacy perspective
  • Selecting specific strategies and techniques: matching instruction to each stage of beginning reading
  • Back to materials and resources: applying the decision rules based on a profile of interests, preferences, strengths and challenges, age- and developmental-appropriateness

Day 3

Putting All The Pieces Together

  • Where do functional skills fit in?
  • And by the way: what about writing?
    • can we apply a similar process of assessment and instruction for students with cognitive impairments?
  • The Biggest Bang For The Buck: What are the most powerful literacy strategies for beginning instruction?
    • A recap of emergent literacy contributions to literacy development, including spoken language interactions, environmental exposure to print, interactions with books and shared book reading, experiences with writing tools and pretend writing for different purposes, and adult modeling of literacy (http://www.asha.org/publications/literacy/)
  • Practice planning for and applying targeted strategies for incorporating interests, preferences and classroom curriculum:
    • Shared Reading and Shared Writing
    • Repeated reading
    • Print referencing
  • You win the lottery!

Vicki Rothstein

Vicki has been working with individuals with disabilities and teams supporting those individuals since 1970. She is retired from her work with the Richmond School District where she had a variety of professional roles and responsibilities over the years. Presently, Vicki is working as a professional developer, instructional coach, educational consultant and university instructor. She facilitates staff development and supports teams in designing inclusive educational environments and experiences that provide a high quality, meaningful education for individuals with disabilities, from preschool through adolescence.

UBC Vancouver

The course will be in two classrooms over the three days, in adjacent buildings:

August 31 to September 2

Monday to Wednesday
9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Registration Deadline:  July 20

  • The non-credit registration seats are now full for this program. Register here if you wish to be on the wait-list.


  • Registration Fee:  $300 (+5% GST)
  • Registration fees include daily nutrition breaks, lunch and all course materials.

Seats are limited, we recommend early registration to confirm your participation.

  • Minimum enrolment is required in order for the program to run.


Registration fees are paid through our secure online payment gateway via credit card or accepted Interac cards (BMO, RBC, ScotiaBank, TD CanadaTrust).

NOTE:  Visa debit cards (Interac cards with the visa symbol on them) are not accepted at this time.

Refund Policy

Withdrawals received in writing (email) 4-weeks before the start of the program will be refunded the amount paid, less a $60 administration fee. There are no refunds for cancellations received after the 4-week deadline.

Should the course be cancelled due to low enrolment, all fees paid will be refunded in full.

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