Literacy Beat in Dublin, Ireland

Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Literacy Beat contributors are presenting several studies at The Federation of European Literacy Associations (FELA) in Dublin, Ireland, July 4 to 6, 2022. On this page, you can download resources and presentation slide decks.

July 4, 2022

Going Beyond the App:
Online International Development to Reach Teachers on the Margins

Nance S. Wilson, State University of New York at Cortland

Thomas DeVere Wolsey, Consultant

Linda Smetana, California State University East Bay

Ibrahim M. Karkouti, The American University in Cairo

Texts for Reading Instruction and the Most Common Words in Egyptian Arabic

Thomas DeVere Wolsey with Freddy Hiebert and Ibrahim M. Karkouti

At AERA 2022 in San Diego, we presented

The authors conducted an analysis at the word level of four Arabic multidisciplinary textbooks in grades one and two in Egypt.  The study sought to answer four questions:  What are the most common words in standard Arabic? How many of the most common words in standard Arabic are used in the textbooks? How dense is the use of common words? How many rare words are used in the textbooks studied? Analysis found that the texts did not make use of any of the rare words found in the corpus, but many words in the texts did not appear in either the reference corpus inclusive of the common words list.  Recommendations for policymakers and textbook publishers were included.

*Thomas DeVere Wolsey, corresponding author

California State University, East Bay

Hayward, CA USA

*Ibrahim M. Karkouti

The American University in Cairo

New Cairo, Cairo, Egypt

*Elfrieda H. Hiebert


Santa Cruz, CA US

*Dalal Abo El Seoud

The American University in Cairo

New Cairo, Cairo, Egypt

*Helen Abadzi

The University of Texas, Arlington

Arlington, TX US

*Fatma Abdelkhalek

New Cairo, Cairo, Egypt

The American University in Cairo

Classroom Observation – Updated

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Recently, colleagues and I in Egypt tested a curriculum designed to improve letter-sound correspondence knowledge among first-grade students in four Egyptian community schools in an after-school program.  The curriculum, called Iqra, intended that students would engage in whole-class, teacher-directed learning. We recorded the class sessions, but we needed to analyze interactions. We chose the time-honored Stallings (1977) instrument. However, to adjust for difference in the cultural context and modern data analysis tools, I created a modified Stallings Snapshot Observation System in Excel. Since there were two teachers in each classroom, the form was modified to accommodate that fact. Since the lessons varied in length, we also divided the video segments into 10 minute sequential chunks. This differs from the original but fit our needs.

I am sharing the Excel template because it may be helpful to others conducting classroom observations, but please share your thoughts and experiences in comments. In the meantime, as the research team completes analysis, I will provide additional observations here.

Stallings in Excel


Engeström, Y. (1987). Learning by expanding: An activity-theoretical approach to developmental research. Helsinki, Finland: Orienta-Konsultit.

Scales, R. Q., Wolsey, T. D., Lenski, S., Smetana, L., Yoder, K. K., Dobler, E…Young J. R. (2018). Are we preparing or training teachers? Developing professional judgment in and beyond teacher preparation programs. Journal of Teacher Education, first published date: April-10-2017 doi: 10.1177/0022487117702584

Scales, R. Q., Wolsey, T. D., Young, J., Smetana, L., Grisham, D. L., Lenski, S., Dobler, E. Yoder, K. K., & Chambers, S. A. (2017). Mediating factors in literacy instruction: How novice elementary teachers navigate new teaching contexts. Reading Psychology, 38(6), 604-651. doi: 10.1080/02702711.2.17.1323056

Stallings, J. (1977). Learning to Look: A Handbook on Classroom Observation and Teaching Models. Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Beyond the App: How to Leverage Technology

by Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Nance Wilson and I talked with Mike Kranitz of EventSquid about #beyondtheapp #bta Beyond the App: Cause and Conference, which strives to support teachers’ professional development and coach literacy experts in one of the most creative ways possible in response to COVID, and their model may just change the game.

E8: Beyond the App: How to Leverage Technology to Give a Face to Face Experience — Eventsquid

Beyond the App Podcast

“We wanted them to know that they weren’t alone in the things that were causing them to struggle and we wanted them to know that people whose books they read… are also people they can talk and work together with.” – Dr. Thomas Wolsey

“It’s about leveraging the technology that’s out there to think about, ‘Well, what could this do for me that would be better and or different and would allow me to have similar quality practices that I had in the face to face?’” – Dr. Nance Wilson

#technology #EdTech #auc_gse

Shift and Share

by Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Recently, the Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT) at The American University in Cairo sponsored a virtual symposium themed, Inspiration and Innovation: Conversations Around Emerging Pedagogy in Our Next Normal. The symposium featured faculty presentations called “Shift and Share.” Faculty presented the same presentation three times to ensure that participants were in small enough groups to interact. My presentation (March 10, 2021) was titled “Navigating the River: Teaching and Metacognition for Challenging Times” which you can view below.

A number of really good workshops, plenary sessions, and shift and share session recordings and resources are linked here. Check out the ideas!

Beyond the App Launches Today!

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

It’s here: Beyond the App launches today for middle-grade educators. You can still join us and stretch your teaching muscles this weekend. We begin at noon Eastern Standard Time / 7 PM Cairo Time. Register here 

and for Egypt here: 

#BeyondTheApp #literacyforall #auc_gse

Beyond the App Begins in One Week!

by Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Ready to Zoom Beyond the App? 

There is just one week left before we engage teachers and teacher educators from Egypt to New York and Mauritius to San Diego. Are you with us? 

Beyond the App
Co-planning with the Experts
Beyond the App invites teachers to interact with experts in online and traditional literacies.
Tim Rasinski

Meet the President of AUC, President of SUNY Cortland, and the Minister of Education in Egypt. 

You will have a chance to interact and ask questions. 

President Erik Bitterbaum
Doug Fisher & Nancy Frey

Register now to save your place. 

Egyptian & Africa teachers, click 

US and Canada, register here

#BeyondTheApp @TDWolsey Graphic design by Abd-Elrhman Elsadany

I’m Going Beyond the App in my virtual classroom. Find out how.

Register Now for Beyond the App

by Thomas DeVere Wolsey & Nance Wilson

Registration for Beyond the App is open now!

Beyond the App is an interactive online conference for middle grades teachers, teacher educators, parents, and educational leaders. For just $10 you get to work with experts in the field to improve your online teaching of literacy.

You can read more about it in this press release:

Visit our website and register (Your registration helps us fund the conference in the future):

If you are registering from Africa, please send a note for special instructions to

In addition, participants can choose to donate to our EgyptReads! Initiative to put books in school libraries.

Some of our speakers:

Jack C Berckemeyer
Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey
Maha Bali
Vicky Mac Arthur Cardullo
Zoi Philippakos
Troy Hicks
Emily Smothers Howell
Ian O’Byrne
Danny Brassell
Keisha Rembert
Jill Castek
Timothy Rasinski
Julie Coiro
Richard Beach

Teatro de lectores | Readers’ Theatre

~Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Available in English/inglés and adapted from: 

Lapp, D., Fisher, D., & Wolsey, T. D. (2009).  Literacy growth for every child: Differentiated small-group instruction K-6. New York, NY: Guilford Publishers.

Un teatro para lectores es una actuación informal en la que los estudiantes en grupos pequeños leen un guion en voz alta. El guion puede ser preparado por adelantado por el maestro o los estudiantes pueden crear sus propios guiones. El ensayo les permite a los estudiantes practicar ante una audiencia con sus compañeros de clase. En el proceso, vuelven a leer el texto muchas veces y aumentan su fluidez de lectura.

readers' theatre

Teachers in Guatemala City demonstrate readers’ theatre.

Los puntos fuertes del lenguaje y la lectura se desarrollan a través del teatro de lectura cuando pequeños grupos de estudiantes vuelven a leer los textos en su nivel de lectura independiente y los transforman en un guion de teatro de lectores que pueden representar más tarde para sus compañeros. La relectura, que es importante para la comprensión, también proporciona la seguridad de que los estudiantes hablen públicamente durante la actuación. Todos los estudiantes, incluidos aquellos que son muy competentes, aquellos a quienes todavía les cuesta alcanzar la competencia, y los que son estudiantes de un segundo idioma tendrán un crecimiento positivo a medida que participan en las representaciones teatrales de los lectores (Goodman, 1978). En estos grupos de colaboración, todos los niños aumentan su fluidez en la lectura y el habla al compartir textos con sus compañeros (Martinez, Roser, & Strecker, 1998/1999). Estas actuaciones se pueden compartir dentro de su clase y también con otras clases. Un beneficio para la clase que se visita es que una vez que los oyentes están expuestos a nuevos libros, a menudo claman por leerlos

El énfasis en el teatro de lectores está en apoyar el crecimiento de cada niño en fluidez de lectura y lenguaje oral. Esto sucede naturalmente si los estudiantes, con la ayuda del maestro, seleccionan sus roles y tienen tiempos de relectura y de práctica adecuados. La meta del maestro debe que todos los estudiantes trabajen dentro de sus niveles de comodidad y competencia y que tengan experiencias exitosas. Todo el grupo también puede discutir cómo actuar con el uso de títeres, personajes de fieltro o programas de animación gráfica.

Las ventajas del Teatro de lectores incluyen*:

  • Promoción de la fluidez, incluida la expresión o prosodia
  • Brinda a los estudiantes la oportunidad de elegir, ensayar y presentar guiones cortos de tipo obra ante los compañeros de clase y otras personas sin el estrés de memorizar líneas o usar disfraces o accesorios elaborados
  • Proporciona oportunidades de lectura repetida a medida que los estudiantes practican antes de la actuación
  • Maximiza el compromiso de los estudiantes ya que cada estudiante en el grupo tiene un rol.
  • Aparece menos desalentador que otros textos ya que un alumno lee una parte en lugar de todo el texto solo
  • Se adapta a una amplia gama de habilidades con roles o partes de nivel de dificultad variado.

Los profesores:

  • Seleccionan los textos. Los textos narrativos con mucho diálogo funcionan mejor.
  • Preparan los guiones (las fuentes incluyen guiones preparados comercialmente, sitios web y guiones escritos por el docente o los alumnos); resaltan las partes específicas en los guiones de los estudiantes
  • Modelan leyendo el texto en voz alta
  • Asignan los estudiantes a grupos
  • Proporcionan retroalimentación y monitorean a medida que los grupos pequeños practican

Los estudiantes:

  • Leen el guion en silencio o con un compañero
  • Vuelven a leer en grupo con los estudiantes, leyendo diferentes roles, en turnos
  • Negocian y asignan roles
  • Leen y releen de forma individual, centrándose en la parte o rol asignado (pueden practicar fuera de la escuela y en casa)
  • Practica la relectura del guion con otros en grupo
  • Hacen etiquetas, tarjetas o marionetas que los estudiantes sostienen para identificar a su personaje
  • Deciden dónde se colocarán los estudiantes durante la actuación
  • Actúan con el guion en la mano

El teatro de lectores no es una gran producción y no es necesario que los estudiantes memoricen líneas, usen un micrófono o se pongan disfraces.

* Adaptado de los materiales proporcionados por la Universidad de Texas en Austin.

Recursos y ejemplos:

Teatro de lectores- 02 La Honestidad

University of Texas at Austin Resources in Spanish and English

Tareas del teatro de lectores

Readers’ Theatre Tasks en-es (descargar PDF)

El coyote y el conejo



Goodman, J. A. (1978).  Teaching the total language with readers’ theatre.  [ERIC document number ED 191321].

Martinez, M., Roser, N. L., & Strecker, S. (1998/1999). I never thought I could be a star: A readers’ theatre ticket to fluency. The Reading Teacher, 52, 326-333.



Readers’ Theatre | Teatro de lectores

by Thomas DeVere Wolsey

This post is available in Spanish/español.

Adapted from

Lapp, D., Fisher, D., & Wolsey, T. D. (2009).  Literacy growth for every child: Differentiated small-group instruction K-6. New York, NY: Guilford Publishers.

A readers’ theatre is an informal performance as students in small groups read a script aloud.  The script may be prepared in advance by the teacher or the students may create their own scripts from narrative texts they have read. Rehearsal permits students to practice in advance for an audience of their classmates. In the process, they reread the text many times and increase their reading fluency.  In this post, a rationale and online resources are shared.

Readers' Theatre Teatro de lectores

Screencapture source:

Language and reading strengths are developed through reader’s theatre as small groups of students re-read texts at their independent reading level and transform them into a readers’ theater script that they can perform at a later time for their classmates.  Rereading, which is important for comprehension, also provides the security for students to speak publicly during the performance. All students including those who are very proficient, those who are struggling toward proficiency, and second language learners will have positive growth as they engage in readers theatre performances. In these collaborative groups, all children increase their reading and speaking fluency as they share texts with their peers. These performances can be shared within your class and also with other classes. A benefit for the class being visited is that once listeners are exposed to new books they often clamor to read them.

The emphasis in readers’ theatre is on supporting each child’s growth in reading fluency and oral language. This happens naturally if students, with the aid of the teacher, select their roles and have adequate rereading and practice time. The teacher’s goal should be that all students work within their comfort and proficiency levels and have successful experiences. The entire group can also discuss how to perform it themselves with the use of puppets, felt board characters, or graphic animation programs.

The advantages of Readers’ Theatre include*:

  • Promotes fluency, including expression or prosody
  • Affords students the opportunity to choose, rehearse, and present short play-like scripts to classmates and others without the stress of memorizing lines or using elaborate costumes and props
  • Provides opportunities for repeated reading as students practice before the performance
  • Maximizes students’ engagement as every student in the group has a part
  • Appears less daunting than other texts since a student reads one part rather than the entire text alone
  • Accommodates a wide range of reading abilities with roles or parts of varying difficulty


  • Select texts. Narrative texts with much dialog work best.
  • Prepare scripts (sources include commercially prepared scripts, Web sites, and scripts written by teacher or students); highlight specific parts on students’ scripts
  • Model by reading text aloud
  • Assign students to groups
  • Provide feedback and monitor as small groups practice


  • Read script silently or with a partner
  • Reread in group with students taking turns reading different roles
  • Negotiate and assign roles or parts
  • Read and reread individually, focusing on assigned part or role (can practice outside of school and at home)
  • Practice rereading script with others in group
  • Make labels, cards, or puppets that students hold to identify their character
  • Decide where students will be positioned during performance
  • Perform with script in hand

Readers’ Theatre is not a big production, and students are not required to memorize lines, use a microphone, or wear costumes.

*Adapted from materials provided by the University of Texas at Austin.

Resources and examples:

Teatro de lectores

University of Texas at Austin Resources in Spanish and English

Readers’ Theatre Tasks en-es (download PDF)

El coyote y el conejo

Examples on YouTube:

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