Webinar – Complex Texts, Complex Sentences: Grammar and Comprehension in the Time of Common Core with Dr. Tim Shanahan

Because words are important, teachers teach vocabulary as well as trying to provide students with tools for figuring out the meanings of unknown words (e.g., context, reference tools). No similar attention is accorded to making sense of sentences. Students either can interpret the meanings of the sentences that they read or they cannot, but little effort is made to show them how to untangle the complexity of sentences. This is unfortunate since Michigan educational standards require that students learn to read complex text, and one of the major aspects of text complexity is the grammatical complexity of the sentences and the cohesive links that connect the ideas within and across sentences. This presentation will provide explicit guidance in how to scaffold students’ interactions with grammar and cohesion.

Dr. Timothy Shanahan is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he is Founding Director of the UIC Center for Literacy. He has also served as Visiting Research Professor at Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, and was director of reading for the Chicago Public Schools. He is author/editor of more than 200 publications including the books, Teaching with the Common Core Standards for the English Language Arts, Early Childhood Literacy, and Developing Literacy in Second-Language Learners. His research emphasizes the connections between learning to read and learning to write, literacy in the disciplines, and improvement of reading achievement. Professor Shanahan is past president of the International Literacy Association and received a presidential appointment to the Advisory Board of the National Institute for Literacy. He served on the National Reading Panel and helped write the Common Core State Standards. He was inducted to the Reading Hall of Fame in 2007, and is a former primary grade teacher. For more information, visit his blog: www.shanahanonliteracy.com

This webinar is part of the Word Study, Vocabulary & Grammar: the Toughest Nuts to Crack series.

Literacy Webinar Series 2016-17

Word Study, Vocabulary & Grammar: the Toughest Nuts to Crack


Thank you to all of the educators who made our 2016-17 webinar series a huge success!

If you missed any of the sessions or want to view the recordings, please access the content below.

Effective instruction in spelling, phonics, vocabulary, and grammar are the most challenging areas for K-12 ELA teachers to gain traction with their students. There’s confusion about effective practices, how to organically integrate word study, vocabulary and grammar into reading and writing instruction, as well as how to design or select the best resources and programs for this work.

This webinar series features hour-long sessions with experts and practitioners in the field who will provide direction in how to gain instructional traction in word study, vocabulary, and grammar that will affect student achievement. The questions addressed across the series include:

  • How can teachers facilitate the transfer of skills learned in word study to reading and writing?
  • How do teachers decide what vocabulary words to teach and how to teach them?
  • How do we teach grammar in a way that impacts student writing?
  • How do we make smart decisions about the resources and programs we select for word study, vocabulary and grammar instruction?


Thursday, October 27, 2016  7-8pm EST
Dr. Tim Shanahan, University of Illinois at Chicago
Complex Texts, Complex Sentences: Grammar and Comprehension in the Time of Common Core
recording and slides

Thursday, November 17, 2016  7-8pm EST
Dr. Laura Tortorelli, Michigan State University
Words in the World: Transferring Word Study to Everyday Reading and Writing
recording, slides, and resources

Thursday, December 8, 2016  7-8pm EST
Dr. Jonathan Bush, Western Michigan University
Grammar in Theory; Grammar in Practice: Language Use in Culture, Society, and Our Classrooms
recording, slides, and resources

Tuesday, January 17, 2017  7-8pm EST
Dr. Laura Tortorelli, Michigan State University
Cracking the Code of Early Literacy: What Is Phonemic Awareness and Why Does it Matter?
recording, slides, and resources

Tuesday, February 7, 2017  7-8pm EST
Dr. Troy Hicks, Central Michigan University & Jeremy Hyler, Fulton Schools, MI
From Texting to Teaching: Teaching Grammar Beyond the Screen
recording, slides and resources

Tuesday, March 28, 2017  7-8pm EST
Dr. Margaret McKeown, University of Pittsburgh
Cracking the Vocabulary Nut Requires Rich, Interactive Instruction
recording, slides and resources

Thursday, April 20, 2017  7-8pm EST
Dr. Dianna Townsend, University of Nevada – Reno
Who Is Using the Vocabulary?: Engaging Students in Active Practice with New and Important Words
recording, slides and resources

Tuesday, May 9, 2017  7-8pm EST
Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010 Teacher of the Year
Organically Integrating Vocabulary into the Secondary Classroom
recording, slides and resources