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Middle School Educators Work on Reading Comprehension During Time at NCCAT

Teachers from across North Carolina gathered at NCCAT for “Literacy In the Middle Grades: Reading Proficiency.”

CULLOWHEE—Helping students comprehend what they read was a key part of a weeklong program “Literacy In The Middle Grades: Reading Proficiency” at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, a nationally recognized leader in professional development.

“We are not looking to turn all teachers into reading teachers, but what we can do is help them support students in their content area,” said Karen Sumner, the Elementary/Professional Development Coordinator with the Western Region Education Service Alliance in Asheville. “There is a lot of research about how Middle School students need help in terms of vocabulary and reading. Many times it is at the middle school level we realize they are having trouble reading.”

Sumner was the presenter during the program which included teachers from across North Carolina.

As students transition to reading to learn, teachers are often unsure how to support those who struggle with comprehension. Knowing how to identify reading deficiencies and provide necessary interventions is unknown territory for many late elementary and middle school teachers.

In this program, teachers learned how to drill down and assess individual gaps in reading skills and the intervention strategies to help students become better readers. They focused on vocabulary strategies for building students’ word knowledge and access to difficult texts. And they explored close reading and comprehension strategies for empowering students to think deeply about text.

“As the text gets more difficult and students get past third grade it is important that our teachers in those grades can help them,” Sumner said. “If it is a science teacher then they can help a student read like a scientist and comprehend what they read.”

Teacher Jeremy Teets of Hoke County found the week very helpful.

“It was a tremendous opportunity,” Teets said. “We got to learn different strategies to implement vocabulary in our classrooms and plenty of resources to help struggling readers. It was my first time at NCCAT and I will be back in the future.”

Sumner was impressed with the NCCAT participants.

“These educators have been fabulous,” she said. “They will be able to go back and share what they learned here. It was great to see them wanting to do that and not have this experience happen in isolation.”

Another “Literacy In the Middle Grades: Reading Proficiency = Content Mastery” will take place in Ocracoke March 7–10. Click here for more information.


Increasing teacher effectiveness is fundamental to improving public education. NCCAT provides teachers with new knowledge, skills, teaching methods, best practices and information to take back to their classrooms. For more information about NCCAT’s professional development programs, visit or call 828-293-5202.

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