instructional pd

An area of emphasis for the School and Family Support team at the Center for Literacy Studies (CLS) is improving instruction for K-12 learners.  Our outreach and assistance to teachers and instructional leaders includes websites, specific resources geared toward instruction at all levels, information about how school-family partnerships can strengthen academic outcomes, and data and demographics related to instruction and academic achievement.


Read Tennessee offers access to hundreds of free digital resources for teachers, including Common Core resources, lesson and unit plans, teaching strategies, center activities, videos, books and articles.

The Teacher Mathematics Pages offer information, videos, lesson plans and units, explore a variety of websites with information critical to teachers, as well as lessons that can be applied to classrooms.

SPDG (The Tennessee State Personnel Development Grant) website supports children, birth through middle school, in the development of language, communication, pre-literacy and literacy skills to ensure their academic achievement.  The website provides instructional resources framed with a Response to Intervention (RTI) model, allowing teachers to meet the needs of every child.
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Middle School and High School Resources

There is a growing concern in the U.S. about today’s adolescents’ insufficient literacy skills. In particular, high school students from “disadvantaged” families (racial minority, poverty, low parental educational levels) appear to lag behind in their ability to read and write well enough to meet demands of the modern society. Reading comprehension is a key to being comfortable with texts encountered in school, at work, and in everyday life.

Center for Literacy Studies has provided professional development in adolescent literacy and technical assistance to several high schools implementing school improvement or redesign strategies. For several school districts, we have evaluated these efforts and written reports for the state. In addition, we conducted a case research study of three high-performance high-priority schools.

Adolescent Literacy Resources is a list of useful websites and downloadable PDFs for teachers.

More On Adolescent Literacy explores reasons behind the decline in reading activity in the general U.S. population, especially among secondary school students.

Adolescent Literacy Literature Review includes many research findings related to the problems of adolescent literacy and the variables affecting reading achievement.

High School Redesign Strategies for Success have been summarized from a variety of sources related to high school redesign and improvement.

From Structure to Instruction is a case study on High Priority Schools that performed higher than other schools with similar risk factors. .

TN History Project: a Reader’s Theater multimedia project that combines technology, history, and literacy development.  It connects technology tools with rich content to help build the knowledge and literacy skills of students.

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Positive relationships with families make for better schools, but sometimes there can be obstacles in the way of these relationships.  Research and the sharing of experience can help illuminate the path toward stronger teacher-parent partnerships.  The Center for Literacy Studies Child and Family team offer publications, workshops, online experiences and technical assistance to help teachers become more skilled in assisting families in becoming real partners in the education of their children.

Facilitator’s Guide for Families Helping Children Become Better Readers will assist you with planning and conducting a workshop for parents to help them learn ways in which they can encourage and support their children’s learning.

Families Helping Children Become Better Readers contains ideas for parents to become more involved in their child’s education.

Unlocking your School’s Family Involvement Potential is a guidebook for increasing family involvement in school.

The State Personnel Development Grant website provides information about why families need to be involved in their children’s education, and includes videos and resources about what parents can do at home to help children improve learning skills.

Working with Families section on the Read Tennessee website holds articles, videos, and other resources on teacher-parent involvement.

Building Bridges Between School and Home helps teachers promote parent/family involvement.

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Data and Demographics>

These websites will provide you with some data that could help you make informed, data-driven decisions.

TN Report Card  provides Adequate Yearly Progress data and annual comprehensive report card on Pre-K – 12 education.

National Center for Education Statistics (NAEP) serves the research, education and other interested communities and is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations.

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Self Determination and Career Planning

Supported by the Tennessee Department of Education and the Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities

The University of Tennessee Center for Literacy Studies conducts training and technical assistance in delivering a self-determination and career planning curriculum to school personnel  interested in empowering students to self-determine their career planning at the point of transition from school to adult life.  Developed for use with a wide range of student academic and vocational abilities and based on the principles of self-determination, the Self Advocacy curriculum helps students discern their interests and abilities, learn more about post-secondary options, make choices and decisions, and chart a career and life course into their future.

Teachers, guidance counselors and others who take the training will be expected to set up a program of classroom instruction using the Self Advocacy curriculum, conduct the class within a 9-week period, use the pre-tests and post-tests to generate data and report the data to the Center for Literacy Studies.  By choosing to use the Self Advocacy curriculum, teachers are acting on their belief that every student can be successful and productive in their lives, and promoting learning environments that will help students develop and reach career and other post-secondary goals.

Services offered include:

  • Basic training that qualifies teachers and other school personnel to use the Self Advocacy curriculum.  A $125 fee covers materials and follow up support.
  • Intensive coaching for selected school systems
  • Direct assistance to students self-advocacy as requested


To learn more about using the Self Advocacy curriculum, please contact Crystal Godwin-Melvin at or Melvin Jackson at


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Transition Services to Post-Secondary Education, Vocational Training or Employment

Supported by the Tennessee Department of Education and the Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities

Making a seamless transition from high school to post-secondary education, vocational training or employment can be difficult for students, especially if they are also dealing with potential barriers such as intellectual or physical disabilities. Our schools have an obligation to assist these students in the transition from school to adult life.  We can help teachers write Transition IEPs for their students based on the student’s needs, interests, and strengths that will better prepare them for their future.

Getting into college, beginning career training, or starting a new job can be challenging. But even the most difficult barriers can be overcome with the right information. The University of Tennessee Center for Literacy Studies can assist students, teachers and school systems with these challenges by providing:

  • Training on writing Transition IEPs
  • Technical assistance onsite with review and recommendations regarding IEPs
  • Other Transition assistance targeted to the needs of individual schools

For more information, contact either Crystal Godwin-Melvin at  or Melvin Jackson at

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