Phonological Awareness, Reading, and Writing: What Teachers Need to Know

Presented by Carol Tolman, Ed.D.

Although we may not always know what came first, (the chicken or the egg?), we do know what came first in the world of literacy: speech. Both reading and writing are based on speech. We use a “speech-to-print” system, not a “print-to-speech” system when decoding and encoding words. Without an understanding of the way sounds are represented in print, many students continue to function well behind their peers. Evidence exists in support of phonemic awareness and its foundational role, but what does that really mean, and how does that translate to practical applications in the classroom? Join Dr. Carol Tolman as she outlines the role of phonological awareness, what misspellings tell us about students’ misunderstandings of phonemes, and what we can do about these errors to enhance their learning.

Attendees will learn to:

  • Listen to students’ articulation errors as a window into their understanding of phonemes
  • Identify reasons for specific misspellings, leading to targeted instructional responses that improve reading and spelling
  • Articulate why subphonemic features are an important component of instruction

Why the Quality of Literacy PD Makes all the Difference


Dr. Tolman on the EDVIEW360 Blog:

As a young girl, I remember “traveling” to faraway places, living vicariously as I enjoyed the Bobbsey twins’ adventures. Reading became my getaway, my solace, and my joy. Sometimes, I imagine how different my life would have been if I had struggled to learn to read. Perhaps that’s why my passion today is literacy research and helping teachers reach all students.

How can this be done? By developing teacher expertise through quality literacy PD.


Read the full article here!

Working Smarter, Not Harder

Working Smarter, Not Harder

What Teachers of Reading Need to Know and Be Able to Teach


In my 27+ years of involvement in public education, I have never met a teacher that did not care deeply about each and every one of his or her student’s reading skills. As a Special Education teacher within elementary, middle, and high school settings, I, along with my peers, spent countless hours and sleepless nights preparing and delivering lessons with the hope of improving students’ reading skills. As I worked harder, I watched my students’ reading skills improve at a frustratingly slow rate; however, their progress never completely reached the grade level for which they strove. In searching for the answers to student reading success, I was left with the continual feeling that there was something more that could be done. Yet, even with over two decades of experience and the title of M.Ed., I could not identify what was missing in my reading instruction. Having not learned what I needed to know in my first two degrees, I was determined not to let that same mistake happen again. Consequently, before I began my doctoral work, I queried numerous national reading experts in an attempt to identify what I needed to learn.


Over time, I came to understand that I had been missing a fundamental understanding of the scope and sequence of skills necessary to include within effective reading instruction. The often-quoted “five core components” of reading, including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension, are inarguably crucial components. Until I studied this field in an in-depth manner, however, it was not always clear to me exactly what skills should be included within these components. Along with this is the necessary knowledge of exactly what we mean by these components, how these skills are translated throughout the grade levels, and what components should be emphasized, with what intensity, for which students. This information has enabled me to “work smarter, not harder” to increase the reading skills of students. I share the following outlines of these skills in the hopes that you, too, can use this knowledge to improve student reading achievement. We can make a difference in the lives of so many students!


Download the full article: IDA article – working smarter, not harder

© Dr. Carol Tolman. All rights reserved.