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ReadtopiaGO Introduced to Special Educators

Special Educators received a preview of a new early-literacy curriculum for learners with complex needs at Closing The Gap 2022.

For years, special educators have used Readtopia, a comprehensive literacy curriculum for learners with complex needs. While Readtopia provides an instructional foundation for learners in grades three through high school, Building Wings wanted to offer a comprehensive curriculum that would serve every student in every classroom. A soon-to-be-released curriculum, ReadtopiaGO addresses the literacy development of children ages 4-8 who face learning barriers.

Product Images from Readtopia Go including a multi-colored wheel outlining the content for years 1-4 and books included in this early-literacy curriculum

Introducing ReadtopiaGO:
An Early-Literacy Curriculum for Learners Ages 4-8

During the 2022 Closing the Gap (CTG) conference, Building Wings founder and CEO Don Johnston provided a preview of ReadtopiaGO, a new comprehensive core literacy curriculum for ages 4-8 that will be launched in early 2023.

A man (Don Johnston) dressed in dark slacks, a plaid shirt and a dark vest, standing with a microphone introducing ReadtopiaGO to a crowd at an evening reception.

Literacy Development for Young Children
with Learning Barriers

Each unit within ReadtopiaGO contains four unique domains that deepen world knowledge and build foundational skills while delivering the quality engaging curriculum for which Building Wings is known. The four lesson topics are:

  • Learning about Me
  • Learning about Science
  • Learning about Life
  • Learning about Social Studies 

ReadtopiaGO will provide four years of instruction with 16 core topics and 32 books per year, and instruction is anchored in shared reading with high-interest picture storybooks that are included in the curriculum. On a daily basis, students have opportunities to write, learn about the alphabet, and explore books independently. These key instructional experiences are enhanced by activity centers that support social skill development and language learning.

A graphic illustrating three components of ReadtopiaGO: Four years of instruction, the book "One Wonderful You" and the book "My Shadow."

Built for students in Pre-K to Grade 2, ReadtopiaGO is organized around integrated thematic units that provide literacy skill-building through science, social studies, social and emotional (SEL) development, and life skills contexts.

Maureen Donnelly, co-author of ReadtopiaGO, spoke at CTG about the questions the curriculum is designed to address:

  1. How do we make sure these particular young children have access to all the instructional experiences they need to help them one day grow into conventional readers? 
  2. How do we support their language learning and literacy development at the same time? 
  3. How do we help teachers quickly and easily deliver evidence-based instruction? 

Using what she calls the “three E’s” of introducing new vocabulary–engagement, enjoyment, and exposure–Donnelly and the Research and Development Team at Building Wings set out to design a curriculum that layered in what researchers have discovered about play and the relationship between language and literacy. 

Maureen Donnelly uses her hands to describe something to two women in front of a large Building Wings poster at a conference, with other people standing, and having conversations in the backgrounds.

The curriculum can be used in a variety of educational settings, from Head Start programs to Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms, as well as speech clinics and general education early elementary classrooms with students at all stages of emergent literacy.

Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction

The curriculum reflects the latest literacy research and was built in consultation with Dr. Karen Erickson. Donnelly describes the curriculum as dual-purposed, where “the text builds literacy and the subtext builds knowledge.” 

ReadtopiaGO invites students to see themselves as the main character in their learning journey, encouraging them to imagine themselves as heroes, investigators, and dreamers. The content is leveled and scaffolded, helping educators personalize instruction for each student or group  without losing critical facetime or adding to workload. 

Cover of the book "My Shadow" from the ReadtopiaGO early literacy curriculum

ReadtopiaGO: A Companion to Readtopia

Teachers who are familiar with Readtopia know that Building Wing’s curriculum incorporates the emergent instructional routines prescribed in Comprehensive Literacy for All by Erickson and Koppenhaver. It is intended to be used before students transition to Readtopia in grade three and can be used on its own.

In early 2023, two complete units of ReadtopiaGO (equivalent to half of one school year) will be ready for educator access. The complete first year of instruction will be released in the fall of 2023 with the remaining units in the four-year curriculum released consistently thereafter.

For more information about ReadtopiaGO and to sign up for publication updates, please visit the ReadtopiaGo landing page. To view samples of all instructional materials offered by Building Wings including ReadtopiaGO, please visit My Learning Liftoff.

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Karen A. Erickson, Ph.D.​

Karen A. Erickson, Ph.D. is Director of the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill. Her focus is on understanding the best ways to assess and teach reading and writing to children with the most severe disabilities. As a special education teacher, Dr. Erickson has worked to support students with a range of disabilities in a variety of classroom settings, particularly students who do not use speech as their primary means of communication.

Website: https://www.med.unc.edu/ahs/clds

Author Profile: https://products.brookespublishing.com/cw_Contributorinfo.aspx?ContribID=110&Name=Karen+Erickson,Ph.D.

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