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Mastering the Text Complexity Challenge in Grades 4-8

Are you struggling to help your students master text complexity for your grade level? This online course is designed for teachers of grades four through eight who are interested in learning the best practices for helping their students master text complexity. This course covers strategies for implementing the Common Core State Standards in reading literature and informational texts. Teachers will learn strategies for assessing text complexity, asking and answering text-dependent questions, using textual evidence, teaching important Common Core-related vocabulary building strategies, and helping students learn how to read closely. Teachers will learn the importance of increasing vocabulary to assist students in comprehending complex text. Finally, teachers will learn strategies for helping students explore theme and author’s message in a variety of genres. This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units/5 quarter units from UC San Diego Extension. For detailed information on university credit, click here.

"I felt that the content and resources are very applicable to what I am doing in my classroom right now! I GREATLY appreciate that about PDI courses, it is hands-on and ties in with real instruction! I feel that I can use everything immediately" - Amy Bork


Enrollment Options

Register] Course Registration Only $112 with the discount

Register]Course Plus Credit from UC San Diego Extension Only $284


Required Resource Book: This course has a modestly-priced required resource book (available in both new and used versions) that can be purchased through Amazon using the following link. Note that you can begin and participate in your course before the book arrives.

Text Complexity: Raising Rigor in Reading” by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Diane Lapp

If you are registering for multiple courses, use the following link to access the book list for all PDI courses with direct purchase links through Amazon. PDI Course Resource Book List


Topical Outline / Click here to request a copy of the detailed syllabus

PDI Course Number: 46T02

UCSD Course Number: EDUC41603

Unit One

  • Overview of the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts
  • Standards for Literature
  • Standards for Informational Text
  • Balancing Types of Text
  • Assignment #1: Write an autobiography
  • Test #1

Unit Two

  • Overview of Text Complexity
  • Text Exemplars and Other Tools for Analyzing Texts
  • Leveled Texts
  • Assignment #2: Article reflection
  • Test #2

Unit Three

  • Asking and Answering Questions with Evidence
  • Questioning Techniques to Help Readers who Struggle
  • Overview of Disciplinary Literacy and Content Integration
  • Assignment #3: Share your expertise
  • Test #3

Unit Four

  • Overview of Close Reading
  • Close Reading with Literature
  • Close Reading with Informational Texts
  • Test #4

Unit Five

  • Building Vocabulary
  • Vocabulary Self-Collection
  • Writing with Reading in Mind
  • Test #5

Unit Six

  • Understanding and Working with Theme and Author's Message
  • Exploring Genre
  • Resources for Reading in Grades 4-8
  • Assignment #4: Develop a Text Complexity Lesson
  • Assignment #5: Reading/Learning Log (Based on required resource book)