Success Stories

Mrs. Sharp is the best! It was hard work but worth it. I feel better about my reading and I have good work habits because of the tutoring. And I went from a kindergarten level to a high third grade level in one year.

- James, 10

...My son, who had dyslexia, was struggling with reading. He was starting third grade and I worried that if we didn't find something to help soon, he would struggle not only with reading but also with his self esteem for the rest of his life. Ann worked with him an hour a day and brought him up to a third grade level. He developed great work habits, found a tremendous increase in confidence, and discovered what it feels like to accomplish something great.

- Patti, mother of a son with dyslexia

I think Dr. Sharp is really fun and positive. She helped me learn to read and made me feel so proud of myself! Now I am not embarrassed when I have to read out loud in a group.

- Curtis, 12

Training Sessions

Superhero Training Instruction

More Focused Strategy Instruction:

We follow a prescribed developmentally appropriate sequence of skill building.

Explicity Taught
We use 7 effective steps:

  1. Pre-assess skill levels
  2. Tell what will be learned
  3. State clearly the purpose of instruction
  4. Model the skill
  5. Practice with guidance and feedback
  6. Practice independently with feedback
  7. Review

The steps are repeated as needed.

We Make It Fun!

Individuals are physically, auditorially, visually, and emotionally involved!

Scientifically Research Based (SRB)
What is Scientifically Based Research? A Guide for Teachers
Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science

More Intense Strategy Instruction:

Duration of Training Instruction
We suggest a minimum of one hour twice a week.

Intensity of Instruction
- Reduction of the number of children that are being taught at the same time. We offer 1:1, 2:4, 1:4.
- Concentration on a specific area of literacy in which a child needs more development (e.g. phonics, fluency, etc.)

Multiple exposure to the skills and literacy targets.

Our recommendations depend on the severity of the learning challenge.

SRB Materials
Materials that have been carefully crafted to support literacy acquisition according to evidence!!!

SRB Strategies
Florida Center for Reading Research
The Iris Center

More Time and Practice Reading:

We suggest daily reading, daily sight word practice, and daily fluency practice.

Our Motto is:

Only Read on the Days You Eat!

Time and Practice
The amount of time spent reading per day is directly related to Standard Test scores.
The amount of Time Reading Matters!

Recommended Reading
Shaywitz, S, Overcoming Dyslexia (2004) New York:
Alfred A. Knopf ISBN: 0-375-40012-5

Schedule an Appointment >

Elements to Becoming a Super Reader

The following illustration displays a metaphoric point of view of the elements necessary for acquiring literacy skills. The graphic suggests that the seven components of literacy are intricately apart of the reader's learning and that a super reader must be nourished by specific types of instruction that is driven by assessment. The graphic is not only a visual representation of what we at Superhero Training Center believe is the critical elements to overcoming reading challenges, but also illustrates our belief that every reader can blossom with appropriate instruction and practice.

PA - Phonemic Awareness

SRB - Scientifically Research-Based

Elements to Becoming a Super Reader

Illustration created by Carol J Solomon, MS, Project Director, Special Education/English as a Second Language Grant Project, McKay School of Education, Brigham Young University

Training Sessions

Assessment Here at Superhero Training Center individuals go into training the minute they walk in the door. Training begins with a series of reading assessments that help pinpoint areas of both weaknesses and strengths. The assessments we use are standardized, research-based tools recognized by literacy experts across the nation. Assessments guide the program prescribed for each individual and will help instructors focus on what is needed most.

Oral Language - Vocabulary - Comprehension
Every session will begin with identifying new vocabulary words and pre learning not only their meanings but also their pronunciations. Students are encouraged to work out pronunciations using the decoding strategies they are learning during Word Study. This previewing of words accomplishes several important things. It provides practice in oral language proficiency, allows for students to build their vocabulary, and provides authentic reasons to use their decoding skills. It sets the stage for greater comprehension and more enjoyment when reading. Introducing key words before reading also provides for greater fluency when reading.

Elements to Becoming a Super Reader Next students read aloud from print that has been selected for interest and for their specific level of reading difficulty. During reading students will work on comprehension, review vocabulary, and identify words with exactness. Phonics and spelling strategies that have been taught during Word Study are reinforced again as children read aloud to help children identify unfamiliar words correctly. To learn more about how to best help a struggling reader while reading a loud click here.

Word Study
Phonemic Awareness - Phonics
Next individuals will spend time learning decoding strategies that give readers effective and accurate ways to identify words they are reading. A unique blend of personal instruction and technical support is provided to help students remember the strategies being learned. The research proven software, Reading Horizons, is used to augment and extend instruction. Word study composes of 42 sounds, 5 phonics rules, and 2 decoding rules to make word study simple and fun. The multi sensory approach based off of the Orton Gillingham method makes word study a power enhancing activity.

Reading Horizons - Discover Intensive Phonics for Yourself
Reading Horizons - Discover Intensive Phonics for Yourself Reading Program

Fluency Training
After word study children will engage in a lively instructional activity sometimes referred to as fluency training. Fluency training is a time for children to practice familiar passages already read for the purpose of helping them increase their capacity to read faster, smoother, and with expression. Students must comprehend what they are reading to be truly fluent. Fluency training is something that can be augmented at home and parent trainings are provided at the Superhero Training Center to help parents learn how. Tape recordings of stories read during reading are used and fluency charts that challenge individuals to beat their own time are provided.

Sight Words
Finally the session ends with some word work with common, frequently seen words. Memorizing every word seen in print is impossible, yet memorizing some words that are frequently seen or do not follow phonics rules boosts children's word recognition and their confidence. Words will be learned using games and software that help individuals learn them quickly and remember them over time while having fun.

An additional 15 minutes to the tutoring session will be offered to teach narrative and expository writing skills based on topics being read. Although this time will be optional, it is highly recommended for its ability to help cement reading skills into place, and to increase individuals ability to use the written language. Trained volunteers will conduct this part of the tutoring session and will be offered at no extra charge.

Preschool and Kindergarten Sessions

Systematic Engaging Early Literacy (SEEL)

The Superhero Training Center uses Systematic Engaging Early Literacy (SEEL) created by Dr. Barbara Culatta and a team of literacy experts out of Brigham Young University. SEEL has been implemented in both preschool and kindergarten settings, over a period of 10 years. It has been proven to be effective in teaching children phonemic awareness and other foundational literacy skills that prepare young children to learn to read (Culatta, Kovarsky, Theadore, Franklin, & Timler, 2003; Culatta, Culatta, Aslett, & Wilson, 2005). SEEL curriculum employs a dynamic framework to promote the cognitive/language skills essential for emergent literacy. SEEL is based on five scientifically based principles that have been proven to be effective with young emergent readers. SEEL's five guiding principles are:

Interactive, Social Conversations

  • Acknowledge and elaborate student ideas
  • Use questions and comments for various purposes (request information, request actions and objects, make comments, express emotions, acknowledge, agree, request permission, etc.)
  • Use more commenting than questions

Success in developing language and literacy skills is tied to effective interactional supports (Neuman & Roskos, 1997). Researchers advocate orchestrating productive instructional conversations (Goldenberg & Patthey-Chavez, 1995; Neuman & Roskos, 1997; Neuman, 2006). During SEEL instruction responsive interactions are playfully incorporated by passing turns to children, attentively listening to and waiting for children's responses, requesting information, commenting on children's actions, and celebrating children's contributions.

Explicit Instruction

  • Systematically follow a sequenced curriculum
  • Highlight targets and make salient so children readily notice the pattern or rule
  • State the goal and model the desired behavior
  • Repeat with variation

Explicit instructional procedures have been shown to positively influence student performance (Adams, 1990). Explicit, intense instruction in code-based and meaning-based skills is done with an emphasis on playful practice. For each activity, teachers explain just what the children are to learn and tell them why what they are learning is useful. Teachers share the lesson objectives with the children - they label the skill to be learned, model the target, provide practice with the target, and restate the desired behavior.

Multiple Exposures

  • Provide frequent intense, salient exposure
  • Provide frequent reasons and ways to respond
  • Vary contexts and activities used

The word intense in this context refers to frequent exposures to what is being learned. Students are exposed multiple times in interesting and fun ways to the same literacy target through seeing, hearing, saying, doing, and writing.


  • Capitalize on expressing arrange of emotions (curiosity, amazement, disgust, delight, sadness, etc.)
  • Use hands-on, concrete activities
  • Be energetic
  • Vary presentation
  • Provide supports so children feel successful and confident

Children learn best when they are motivated, engaged, and appropriately challenged (Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000). SEEL employs engaging, playful, meaningful activities. Positive engagement in activities/events promotes development of autobiographic or episodic memory so that what is learned is remembered (Tulving, 1993). SEEL stresses experiences that encourage active engagement of children's minds, not just their bodies-associating literacy with enjoyment and success (Neuman, 2006).

Meaningful Instruction

  • Create hands-on shared experiences to read, write, and talk about
  • Relate content to what children know
  • Relate content to children’s prior knowledge and personal experiences
  • Use meaningful themes
  • Build authentic reasons to read and write into lessons

Knowledge is best remembered and used when it is consolidated or linked to other knowledge (Levine & Aparicio, 1994). This is essential for developing the neural networks necessary for representational thought. SEEL fosters establishment of neural networks by using theme-based lessons and multiple contexts and activities. Theme-based planning brings high levels of purpose and meaning to literacy learning. Phonological awareness and phonics skills are taught or reinforced in activities that promote the development of vocabulary, story comprehension, and oral language. In addition, activities that support story comprehension and vocabulary, such as story enactments and interactive reading and writing, are related to themes involved in skill-based instruction.



Information from assessments drives instruction. Assessments are tools that help teachers collect information for the purposes of specifying and verifying problems. Assessments allow teachers to make informed decisions. Assessments can be conducted formally or informally using many types of methods. A few typical ways information can be gathered are: surveys, interviews, observations, and testing. There are three types of assessments that are typically used to inform instructional decisions:

  • Screening: a beginning assessment of a student’s preparation for reading instruction which determines where instruction needs to begin.
  • Progress monitoring: a quick sampling of critical reading skills to determine student’s progress and to inform teachers if modification to instruction are needed.
  • Diagnostic measures: a detailed measure of reading and language skills which provides a more precise and detailed picture of a student’s knowledge and skills so that instruction can be more precisely planned.

We use the Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised as both a screening instrument and a diagnostic measure. It is a comprehensive assessment for all reading skills. It is a standardized test that when administered properly provides standard precision scores that are well respected as reliable and accurate measurements. It provides information that allows us to know where to begin instruction and what skills need to be stressed.

We use DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Early Literacy Skills) as our progress monitoring assessment. DIBELS has been extensively tested and developed to provide critical information in only one minute. It is highly valued and used among literacy experts. DIBELS helps us know if our instruction is working.

MAZE is a progress monitoring instrument used to help determine comprehension. We supplement DIBELS with MAZE.


Comprehension is the whole reason for reading. Good readers read for a reason as they actively think about what they are reading. Comprehension can be taught using five research based strategies that improve comprehension. Those strategies are:

  • Make use of prior knowledge
  • Asking question about the text
  • Summarizing parts of the text
  • Clarifying words and sentences not understood
  • Predicting what might occur next in the text

Block, Cathy C., Pressley, M. (2002). Comprehension Instruction: Research-Based Best Practices. New York: Guilford Press

Fluency Training

  • Working towards reading that is fast, accurate, effortless, and expressive.
  • Fluency is best achieved when orally rereading.
    • Someone needs to be listening so errors are immediately corrected.
  • Fluency can also be achieved by reading books that are on the independent level of the reader.

Learn More >

Oral Language Proficiency

Two Elements of Oral Language Proficiency

  • Social language
    • The ability to communicate with others socially
    • The ability to get basic needs met
  • Academic language
    • The language of school
    • Content area vocabular

Learn More >

Scientifically Research Based (SRB)

Scientifically Research Based (SRB)

Learn More: What is Scientifically Based Research? A Guide for Teachers

Sight Words

There are two types of sight words.

  • 1st Type
  • 2nd Type
    • Automatically recognized words (e.g. any word you no longer decode but know immediately upon seeing it.)

Time and Practice

Amount of time spent reading linked with reading achievement of 5th graders - Anderson, et. al. (1988)


Vocabulary refers to words we must know to be able to communicate effectively. Oral vocabulary refers to words we use in speaking or recognize when listening. Reading vocabulary refers to words we recognize or use in print.

Vocabulary is developed indirectly when student engage daily in oral language, listen to adults read to them, and read extensively on their own. Vocabulary is also developed directly when students are explicitly taught both individual words and word learning strategies.

Beck, I. L., McKeown, M. G. & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life: Robust vocabulary instruction. New York: Guilford Press.


Writing is the ability to express oneself through print and to communicate ideas with others. Writing allows us to maintain heritage. Writing is a life skill that is often not taught. We are often required to do a lot of writing but are seldom taught how to do it.

  • Writing genres require different structure, knowledge and skills
    • Genre examples: Informational, persuasive, cause and effect, biographical, fictional story, poetry, etc.
  • Less is more
    • One genre taught at a time
    • In depth with many different opportunities to practice
    • On topics of choice
  • Process writing used
    • Planning, organizing, drafting, editing, revising, publishing

Graham, S., MacArthur, C. & Fitzgerald, J (2007). Best practices in writing instruction. New York: Guilford Press.

6+1 Traits Writing

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All rights reserved.

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Dr. Ann C. Sharp
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