the Balance


A flexible course for busy K-2 educators ready to make learning to read easier for children.


June 12 – July 23

(With access through September 3)

Graduate Credit Now Available

Learn more here!

This course is for you if…

  • You’re a teacher, coach, or school leader trying to make sense of the balanced literacy vs. science of reading debate.
  • You want to sort through the most current science about the reading brain but feel overwhelmed about where to start. There’s so much!  
  • You’ve learned some things about reading science but are struggling with practical applications in the classroom.

  • You’re ready to step into some cognitive dissonance and honestly appraise your current practices.
  • You value responsive teaching but are worn down by trying to sort through the current claims that “everything’s wrong” with balanced literacy. 

  • You don’t identify yourself as either “Balanced Literacy” or “Science of Reading.” You just want to find ways to help more kids read more easily. 

          We know you! 


          You’re busy teaching, coaching, or leading a school. 

          You don’t have the time to read everything.

          But you still need to make sense of the research to make the best decisions for the kids you serve.  

          You want to understand the science and what that means day by day for your classroom, school, or system. 

          We’ve designed this course to support you in making sound decisions anchored in the best of science, the truth of responsiveness, and a relentless focus on providing all children with learning experiences saturated with meaning. 

          What You Will Learn . . .


          • What does the research really say about beginning reading instruction?
          • What are the critical elements of beginning reading that set children up for success in learning the alphabetic system and learning to comprehend?
          • What is “alphabetic insight,” and why is it so critically important?
          • How does phonemic awareness prepare the brain for later reading success?
          • How do I thoughtfully and skillfully teach children to decode without teaching them to be “word callers”?
          • How does the brain really learn sight words, anyway?
          • How can I ensure students have opportunities to practice skills both explicitly in isolation and implicitly in the context of connected texts?
          • How do I make foundational skills instruction engaging, relevant, and connected to comprehension?
          • How do I select the best texts for beginning readers? What about decodable texts?  What role should they play?
          • What are the most effective ways to prompt beginning readers at the point of difficulty?
          • And much more!

          Who Is the Class For?

          Shifting the Balance: The Online Class is for anyone who makes decisions about how to best support beginning readers or readers who’ve not gotten off to a strong start. This includes:

          • K, 1st, or 2nd grade classroom teachers
          • Reading interventionists
          • Special education teachers
          • Instructional coaches
          • Building Principals
          • Curriculum and staff development leaders
          • District administrators

          What You’ll Get

          For EARLY BIRD pricing of $299, Regular pricing of $329 or 4 payments of $86 you will get:  

          • A 6-Week Course with 6 Learning Modules

          • 6 bonus weeks of 24/7 access 

          • Complete shift-by-shift guidebook for bridging research to action

          • Video, audio, PDF tools and more

          • Closed Captioning Available on all Videos

          • 2 Live Q & A and Connection Sessions with Jan and Kari via Zoom 

          • Flexibility to learn at your own pace over 12 weeks of access when it fits into your busy schedule.

          • Certificate of Completion for 24 CEU hours

          • 100% Money-Back Guarantee

          • Option to for Grad Credit ($100)

          100% Money-Back Guarantee

          We want everyone who takes our class to be satisfied!

          Therefore, if, after completing the first two modules – but before beginning the third module – you find the class is not meeting your expectations, simply send us an email with your feedback and we will send you a refund for your full purchase price. 

          It’s that simple. You deserve professional learning that works for you. 

          This offer is good for the first 30 days of the six-week course. 

            ... has me itching to get started with the new school year

            As an educator of 17 years, I have seen balanced literacy understanding shift all over the place. I myself am a teacher who swung way too far to the side of “meaning.” I saw lots of places in my data supporting the need for using visual information. I struggled with how to incorporate that balance into my classroom without students swinging all the way to the other side of using visual information only! This was the perfect book for me, and I couldn’t wait to sign up for class! It was exactly what I needed to help put my beliefs into practice! The ideas and new understanding from your class has me itching to get started with the new school year! Please keep writing 🙂


            Brooke Bridges, Kindergarten Teacher, Chapin, SC

            Loved it. All of it. Super user friendly.

            Loved it. All of it. Super user friendly. I appreciate the “extras” included at the end. I think that it went beyond the book. It honored a teacher’s hard work – you recognize that there are so many things going on at a time in a classroom. The instructional ideas were efficient and very doable. I can’t wait to try them!


            Kristy Owens, 2nd Grade Teacher, Bismarck, ND

            . . . professional development I felt "addicted" to.

            I can’t remember the last time that I had professional development that I felt “addicted” to. I anxiously awaited each week when the new material would be released.  I was so motivated to watch each module, take notes and really think through my new learning. . . . The way that you presented your videos was engaging.  Even though you weren’t with me live, at times, I felt like you were. I LOVE your invitational approach to hard change rather than accusing and bad mouthing others.  This is exactly why I have been addicted!  🙂  


            Jennifer, Kindergarten Teacher, Ohio

            . . . recommending it to others

            I am hopeful you will be offering this course again because I would for sure be recommending it to others. 


            Rachel, Professional Development Consultant, WI

            This course has been fabulous!

            This course has been fabulous! It is so practical and teacher friendly. Thank you. Module 3 was so packed with good information. My wheels are turning!


            Melyssa Taylor, Literacy Interventionist, Waban, MA

            . . . practical ideas that I can easily implement

            The platform was very user friendly. . .  The routines were bite sized and easy to understand and undertake. I love coming away from PD with practical ideas that I can easily implement in my classroom.  . . I liked your humility in your video clips. It felt like you were on the journey with me and we were learning together.


            Penny, Kindergarten Teacher, Hanoi, Vietnam

            I felt like I was just hanging out with my teacher friends and problem solving . . .

            You were both so very REAL! I felt like I was just hanging out with my teacher friends and problem solving how to get better reading instruction to students. I also appreciated your viewpoint coming from a ‘whole language- balanced literacy’ background. This wave of research has created a great deal of angst for teachers who spent the majority of their careers dedicated to the balanced literacy framework. The vulnerability you showed made it easier for me to be open to the new ideas and research you shared.

            Jennifer Ross, Literacy Coach, Middlebury, Indiana

            6 Flexible Learning Modules
            Shift 1: Rethinking How Reading Comprehension Begins
            “Shouldn’t reading instruction always be about comprehension?”

            By design, Module 1 kicks off the course focusing on meaning-making, beginning with a deep dive into why learning to read is not natural for the human brain. Along the way, you’ll learn about the brain’s language processing systems, the Simple View of Reading, Scarborough’s Reading Rope, and the critical role of oral language development in later reading development. We’ll untangle four critical misunderstandings about the origins of reading comprehension in light of the science. And finally, we’ll offer seven high-leverage instructional routines for you to use as you rethink and prepare to revise current practices. 

            Shift 2: Recommitting to Phonemic Awareness Instruction

            “What’s the big deal about phonemic awareness instruction, anyway?” 

            In this module, you will learn the why’s and the how’s behind helping students develop phonemic proficiency. We’ll unpack five common misunderstandings that can get in the way of effective phonemic awareness instruction. Then, we’ll help you bridge the science into practice with seven high-leverage instructional routines that you can rely on on immediately. From studying a phonemic awareness progression to practicing a full range of essential exercises for beginning readers, this module will boost your expertise and confidence in phonemic awareness instruction.


            Shift 3: Reimagining the Way We Teach Phonics

            “Where’s the fun in phonics?”

            In Module 3 we explore what “explicit and systematic phonics” really means. We’ll begin by clearing up five of the many misunderstandings about how to teach the alphabetic code that is our English language. You will learn a progression of phonics acquisition and how to pair this progression with formative assessment to inform instruction that leads to mastery. Finally, you’ll learn simple but high-leverage instructional routines that position you to plan instruction that is targeted, effective, and engaging. 

            Shift 4: Revising High-Frequency Word Instruction

            “Don’t kids just have to memorize sight words?”

            Get ready to rethink everything you thought you knew about teaching sight words! This module will challenge you to rethink sight word instruction, ultimately learning to depend on a magical (and science-informed) word learning strategy that maximizes the four-part processing system. Module 4 introduces the concepts of orthographic mapping and lexical quality. We feel confident you’ll leave this module equipped with new terminology and excited to rethink high-frequency word selection and instruction.

            Shift 5: Reinventing the Ways We Use MSV (3 Cueing Systems)

            “What’s driving all the fuss about MSV?”

            The current push-back about MSV centers around how we teach and prompt students to respond at the point of difficulty when reading. It’s about what cues or strategies we teach students to rely on.  In this module, we’ll take an honest look at what can (and has) gone wrong for too many children who’ve been taught to rely on picture cues, language structures, or contextual guessing rather than relying on print as a primary source of information. Then we’ll suggest a reinvention of our prompting priorities to align with what science suggests young readers need from us. You’ll leave this module with a fresh appreciation for maximizing orthographic processing opportunities for beginning readers. 


            Shift 6: Reconsidering Texts for Beginning Readers

            “But aren’t decodable texts loaded with problems?”  

            In this final module, all of the learning from the previous modules comes together to support the critical task of text selection and its connection to foundational skills. We’ll examine the strengths and weaknesses of both patterned and decodable texts and show you how aligned texts can become the missing link between instruction and the application of beginning reading skills. Using three critical questions for reflection, you will spend time evaluating both decodable and patterned texts, learning to confidently select texts with the essential characteristics beginning readers need. In this final module,  we’ll also support you in synthesizing your learning from across all six shifts, putting it together into a cohesive plan of action that is aligned with science and keeps joyful, student-centered instruction at the center.

            Meet Your Instructors

            Jan Burkins and Kari Yates are experienced educators and consultants. They have deep roots in early childhood education and share a passion for supporting students (and their teachers) in the earliest stages of reading and writing development by providing professional learning experiences and teacher tools.

            They are the co-authors of Shifting the Balance: 6 Ways to Bring the Science of Reading into the Balanced Literacy Classroom (Stenhouse, 2021), a ground-breaking new book written to help educators make decisions about what common practices might need revision in light of current science in the field.

            You can learn more about Jan and Kari here.  

            Are you ready?

            Are you ready to take an honest second look at current practices?

            Are you ready to strengthen the bridge from research to practice in your classroom, school, or district?

            If so, we hope you’ll join to bravely consider the question, “What needs to shift?”

            Finally, a book that has the power to stop the literacy pendulum swings! . . . Burkins and Yates skillfully explore ‘balanced literacy’ and ‘the science of reading’ to find the sweet spots where they overlap, connect, and actually complement one another. The result is a resource that raises our level of instruction while helping children discover and reap the joyful rewards of reading.

            Suzie Rolander

            Bank Street College of Eduction, New York, NY

            Shifting the Balance gives voice to the questions I’ve had in my mind about Balanced Literacy and the Science of Reading and provides clear insights on how to connect the best parts of both to benefit early readers. Throughout the book, Jan and Kari confirm practices worth holding onto while providing actionable next steps I can’t wait to implement with students to strengthen my reading instruction.

            Kristen Mullikin

            Reading Specialist, Elk Grove Unified School District

            In Shifting the Balance, Jan and Kari invite us to reflect and reexamine our beliefs about teaching reading. They gently nudge us to rethink and possibly adjust our early literacy practices. Jan and Kari have taken on this controversial topic by embracing vulnerability and modeling what it means to be truly reflective practitioners. This book is a must read for new and veteran teachers!

            Jennifer Allen

            Literacy Specialist, Waterville Public Schools, ME

            Interested in Bringing the Online Class

            to Your Whole School or District?

            Learning is more fun in a group! 

            Sharing the journey with a team deepens understanding and enhances implementation. 

            We Offer Customized School or District Packages That Include:

            • A class cohort designated to your school/district and exclusively for your teachers. 
            • A customized schedule, including dates that can extend beyond the standard 9 weeks of access.
            • Free customization consultation to identify the best timing and plan for rolling out your course. 
            • Access to all course content for the duration of the course, including videos, audio recordings, and downloadable PDFs.
            • License to flexibly use the course content in faculty meetings, grade-level team meetings, PLCs, and other professional development settings (with paid participants).
            • Leadership team coaching session to support the implementation of the ideas from the class in your context (included with 40+ seats). 
            • Option to purchase up to two one-hour Q&A sessions with Jan and/or Kari, exclusively for your school or district.

              Request More Information

              Use this form to request more information about our custom options for bringing Shifting the Balance: The Online Class to your whole school or district.

              Shifting the Balance: The Online Class

              June 12 – July 23 (With access through September 3)