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Elementary Classroom

Top 10 Tools Overview

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The Reading Teacher’s Top 10 Tools™ is an online reading course unlike any reading course or professional development previously available to teachers. The course content is based upon a firm foundation of proven knowledge and pedagogy, structured literacy, and research and practice that truly informs the daily work teachers do to teach their students to read.

The Reading Teacher’s Top 10 Tools™ is developed around ten units, or tools, each reflecting a component of reading instruction that has been overlooked or needs grounding in the most recent research. Teacher knowledge is the primary tool that impact instruction and student achievement.  This is why, for this course, the use of the term tools refers to a combination of both knowledge and practice.

The tools in The Reading Teacher's Top 10 Tools™ consist of the following:

  1. Knowledge – A Reading Teacher’s Foremost Tool

  2. Oral language – A Foundation for Literacy

  3. Phonemes – Paving the Way to Print and Meaning 

  4. Phonics and Spelling – Effective Decoding and Encoding Instruction

  5. Vocabulary – The Blueprint of a Word

  6. Comprehension – The Text and the Mental Model

  7. Fluency – Understanding Practice and Automaticity

  8. Writing – Write! Written Responses to Reading

  9. Read Alouds – A Tool for Building Language Comprehension

  10. Collaboration – Two Heads are Better Than One

Each tool begins with a knowledge update to ground teachers in current thinking about “what to teach”, to whom, and “how to teach”.  Each tool offers unique video examples of real teaching in real classrooms with real students in grades kindergarten through 6th grade. Teachers have shared that “it was the real teaching, seeing what we learned play out with kids, that made the content of this course so helpful.”


The Tools at a Glance

Please view this document to read a description of each tool, learning objectives for each tool, and the approximate time required to complete each tool.

Top 10 Tools: Standard and IDA Courses

We offer a variety of Top 10 Tools options to meet the professional development needs of our customers.  For individuals, we offer two versions of the course: the standard course and the IDA-accredited course.

Both the standard and IDA accredited versions of Top 10 Tools: 

  • have the same content, 

  • are aligned with the IDA Knowledge and Practice Standards

  • are designed to prepare candidates to take the KPEERI exam

  • feature formative and summative assessments of learning, and

  • can be taken for 3 PD credits/CEUs through Northwest Nazarene University (see below for more information).

The IDA version of the course is designed for those who are seeking an IDA approved credential for taking Top 10 Tools.  This version is more rigorous, featuring the following additional requirements:

  • Purchasing Learning Disabilities: From Identification to Intervention that will be required throughout the course

  • Completing required readings and written responses, which are graded on a rubric by Top 10 Tools faculty

  • Completing required discussion board posts and reflections

  • Submitting lesson plans



For more detailed information about the IDA accredited version of Top 10 Tools, please download and read the course syllabus.


Additional Options for Taking Top 10 Tools

We also offer additional options for taking Top 10 Tools, including:

  • a graduate-credit option through NNU,

  • a micro-credential option through Drexel University,

  • an option for satisfying the Colorado READ Act requirements, and 

  • custom implementations for schools and school districts.

Taking Top 10 Tools for Graduate Credit

We have partnered with Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) to offer 3 hours of graduate credit to those who have completed Top 10 Tools.

To take Top 10 Tools for graduate credit:

  1. Register for either the standard course or the IDA-accredited course on our website.

  2. Register for the Top 10 Tools course at NNU.

  3. Complete the coursework, being sure to spend adequate time engaged in the coursework.

  4. After you complete the course, please contact us at and let us know you are seeking verification of your completion for NNU credit. We will verify your course completion and will reach out to NNU to let them know you have successfully completed the course.

*Note: Taking Top 10 Tools for NNU credit incurs an additional cost of $180, which is paid to NNU for the graduate credit. Please visit their website for more information.

Taking Top 10 Tools to Obtain a Micro-Credential and CEUs

We have partnered with Drexel University and Credentials Unlimited, LLC (owned by Donna Hejtmanek and Dr. Lori Severino) to offer a micro-credential for completing Top 10 Tools.


This micro-credential will demonstrate your proficiency with the following competencies:

  • Understand the Foundations of Literacy Acquisition including knowing the phases of typical developmental progression of oral language, phoneme awareness, decoding, printed word recognition, spelling, fluency, comprehension, and written expression (IDA Standard 1)

  • Understand Diverse Reading Profiles (IDA Standard 2)

  • Know the principles of progress-monitoring and reporting Curriculum Based Measures including graphing techniques (IDA Standard 3.5)

  • Understand Structured Literacy Instruction as it relates to- phonological and phonemic awareness; phonics and word recognition; automatic, fluent reading; vocabulary; listening and reading comprehension; and written expression (IDA Standard 4)

  • Strive to do no harm and to act in the best interests of struggling readers with dyslexia and other reading disorders (IDA Standard 5.1)

  • Respect objectivity by reporting assessment and treatment results accurately, and truthfully (IDA Standard 5.4)

Process for Attaining Your Top 10 Tools Micro-Credential:

  1. Register for Top 10 Tools via our website.

  2. Register for the micro-credential option.

  3. Successfully complete the Top 10 Tools coursework, including obtaining passing scores on all formative assessments.

  4. Contact us by email at Let us know that you have completed your Top 10 Tools coursework.  We will review your progress.  If you have satisfactorily completed the course, we will unlock the final assessment for you and contact you with instructions on how to take it.

  5. Pass the final assessment for Top 10 Tools (a passing score is ≥ 85%). Please note that you only have three attempts to pass this assessment.

Additionally, Drexel University offers those seeking a micro-credential to register for CEUs.  The costs for these options are as follows:

  • Micro-Credential Only: $50

  • Micro-Credential and CEUs: $60

*Notes: Costs for the micro-credential and micro-credential plus CEUs options are in addition to the costs for taking Top 10 Tools.

Taking Top 10 Tools to Satisfy Colorado READ Act Requirements

In order to qualify for continuing education credits in Colorado, you must take a comprehensive examination in addition to fulfilling standard or IDA course requirements.


To fulfill these requirements:

  1. Register for either the standard course or the IDA-accredited course on our website.

  2. Complete the coursework, being sure to spend adequate time engaged in the coursework.

  3. After you complete the course, please contact us at and let us know you need to fulfill the requirements of the Colorado READ Act.  We will verify your course progress and then unlock the comprehensive assessment.  After you successfully pass the comprehensive assessment, please contact us to let us know you have completed the course.  We will verify your assessment results and issue your Certificate of Completion.

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