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Content Information - the learning Phase

Alessi and Trollip describe in-depth understanding of a subject before the development of a lesson to be imperative and the lack of in-depth understanding to be "one of the common and grave errors." 1

With that said, this section of the development plan is to guide a non-expert or novice through steps to develop a true understanding of the TPRI material before beginning the process of developing the training module.

I began preparing for the project by reading all of the TPRI administrative booklets and the student handbooks. These are the same materials that the teachers would depend on for an understanding of the inventory. After reading the booklets and the entirety of all three tests (Kindergarten, First Grade and Second Grade), I watched amateur videos of the test being given. The videos were the "trial run" for some professional taping to be done later by UT-TV. Among the other material from Center for Academic and Readings Skills (CARS) were a text and two papers written by a reading problems specialist, Dr. Louisa Cook Moats. Lastly, there were two grant proposals written by the CARS group. The proposals were being sent to UT System to gain financial support for the project. They were invaluable. They not only described the background of CARS involvement in the TPRI project, but envisioned a future with all teachers trained for proper administration and possible connections between the online training module they hoped to create and an online score sheet for teachers and outlined a way to accomplish both. The online score sheet would provide teachers with Intervention Activities specifically geared per student and would allow the CARS group database the scores for research purposes.

Knowing the connection between reading and speaking is also an important concept I thought worth reviewing. As a certified Speech teacher, I am aware that reading problems and speaking problems are sometimes intermingled. The possibility of including information on articulation, vocalization and hearing in a module on reading seemed exciting. Most of the work will not be used in the initial CD, but CARS is still interested in producing an extension of this project to help "reading specialist" and this information is very relevant for that extension.

After several days of saturation in the subject, it was time to talk to the experts and discuss expectations (not reality). Discussion began with the leaders of the CARS group, Director Barbara Foorman, Ph.D. and Dr. Jack Fletcher. Dr. Foorman had written the grant proposals and knew what she hoped to accomplish with the training module, but not how to get it done. Dr. Fletcher reinforced the connection between the online information and future updates and scoring forms. We all agreed that, since the digital training module was to replace the present workshop, the next step would be to talk to those giving the workshop and the novice going to the workshops.

Subsequent meetings were set up to talk to the trainers. The detailed which information their audience had discussed as most important, what information the teacher felt was lacking in the workshops and, lastly, what they thought might be helpful. With my own training ideas added in, it was time to talk to the novices. Those new to the TPRI found the information more overwhelming and were able to give little input other than to detail what seemed either uninteresting in paper form or too confusing.

As luck would have it, but this time, Dr. Louisa Moats was in Houston for the taping of the UT-TV videos for the CARS group and I was able to listen to all of the videos, ask questions and get clarity on some subjects. The information gleamed from Dr. Moats is available now from the CARS group, thus future investigators into this or a similar project might like to view the video tapes and can get them by requesting from CARS.

Since this project is to develop a training module to replace a workshop and booklets, attending a workshop and reading the booklets might have been sufficient, but it would not have given me the in-depth understanding that interviews with the training experts, like Angeliki Mouzaki; reading experts, like Drs. Foorman, Fletcher and Moats; and novices to the Inventory, like Linda Paszalek and other teachers afforded.

1Computer-based Instruction: Methods and Development, Second Edition. S. Alessi and S. Trollip, page 262.