Professional Development

Professional Development

We have a passion for providing engaging and rewarding professional development. Through interactive workshops, we equip educators with the tools they need to pass on a deep understanding of the written word. W.V.C.Ed provides training on a wide scope of subjects, including phonology, phonics, spelling, comprehension, multisensory teaching, written expression, and morphology. We tailor our trainings, both onsite and virtual, to meet your needs.

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From Words to Works: Writing Skills Workshops


In this lively and engaging keynote, Van Cleave uses current research on writing to help participants understand the issues confronting struggling writers. He emphasizes working memory and the number of simultaneous demands the writing process makes on students of all ages. He concludes the presentation with recommendations for assisting students with the various components of writing.

Sentence Skills

This workshop, which is aligned with state standards, focuses on parts of speech and sentence parts as they apply both to writing and reading comprehension. Participants learn about the components of a good lesson and strategies for developing sentence sense in student writers. They examine parts of speech as a method of understanding the way words interact with each other and sentence parts as building blocks for creating different kinds of sentences. They practice with the elements introduced and model the strategies suggested.

Virtual Opportunities:

Van Cleave offers a virtual five-part, 7.5-hour syntax course for groups of no more than 25. These engaging and interactive intensives give participants an opportunity to learn about syntax deeply, discuss implementation, and practice introduced concepts.

Those that complete the Syntax Intensive may opt to participate in a four-part, 6-hour advanced syntax course, where they study advanced grammar, such as verbals, and experiment with syntax analysis using informative and narrative texts.

Developing Foundational Paragraph Skills

It is imperative that students have a deep understanding of paragraph structure, both for writing and reading comprehension. Participants in this workshop learn a structured, sequential approach to teaching the basic and expanded paragraph, including idea generation, categorization, and writing topic, supporting, and concluding sentences as well as transitions. They discuss rubrics and the revision process. They work with gradual release instruction and teacher modeling of the writing process.

Virtual Opportunity:

Van Cleave offers a virtual three-part, 5-hour foundational paragraphs course for groups of no more than 22. These hands-on, interactive workshops include content, rich discussion about the writing process, and practice with revision.

With a Purpose: Writing in the Genres

Students across the grades are asked to write narrative, opinion/argument, and informative text pieces. Participants first examine paragraph development as a springboard to writing with a purpose; they then turn their attention to specific genres. (Genre workshops can include/exclude specific genres to suit the needs and concerns of specific audiences.) Participants learn useful strategies for helping students develop effective writing for different purposes and genres. At all levels they work with prompt analysis, effective templates, and generating activities. In this genre-focused workshop, participants learn about and practice with a variety of strategies to develop their students’ writing. (Note: This workshop can easily serve as a natural extension to the foundational paragraphs workshop and also as a springboard for the workshop on longer essays.)

Essay Writing

Participants develop strategies to assist their students with writing responses to essay prompts and topics. They learn a systematic, straightforward approach to developing introductory, supporting, and concluding paragraphs. In longer workshops they work on strategies for tackling some of the more challenging issues students confront when they are working on longer papers for content courses. Van Cleave also customizes this workshop to address particular writing assessments and prompts used in a given location.

Writing in the Content Areas

Writing across the curriculum has become increasingly important in schools across the country. This workshop, aimed at instructors in history/social studies, math, and science, makes the argument that effective writing strategies must be taught to students in all their courses and emphasizes the link between developing sentence skills and comprehension of course-related text, including text books. Teachers learn some sentence-writing activities specifically geared towards content writing and also examine appropriate strategies for tackling paragraphs and essays necessary for assessments.

The Motor Component – Handwriting & Keyboarding in the 21st Century

In this hands-on, interactive workshop, Van Cleave covers the most up-to-date research on the importance of handwriting to student learners. He then helps participants explore effective strategies to teach students good, legible handwriting. He instructs participants on proper positioning and letter formation with the goal of automatizing students’ handwriting, so they can attend to the other components of written expression. The benefits of manuscript and cursive will be discussed, and keyboarding can be included as well.

Virtual Opportunity:

Van Cleave offers a virtual two-part, 3-hour handwriting intensive course for groups of no more than 25. These hands-on, interactive workshops include both the research behind effective procedures and practice with the skills necessary as well.

Word Smarts: Vocabulary Workshops


In this lively and engaging keynote, Van Cleave uses current research to help participants understand the issues confronting students who struggle with vocabulary and reading comprehension. He emphasizes what the research tells us about vocabulary knowledge in students; how students best develop their vocabulary; and how teachers can best instruct them.

Best Practices in General Vocabulary Instruction

Dozens of curricula exist to “make our lives easier” when it comes to teaching vocabulary.  These curricula neglect to mention the toughest obstacle in vocabulary instruction—how to choose the best words to teach for the students who need them.  Participants explore the three-tier vocabulary model first proposed by Beck et al.  They practice categorizing words into the three tiers and examine text to see what goes into word selection. They then examine McKeown et al’s work with word selection.  Ultimately, participants learn what goes into choosing a good word for instruction and how to implement those techniques in preparing words for their students.

Then, participants explore what makes sense – and what doesn’t – in vocabulary instruction. They examine commonly used vocabulary instruction practices and determine which ones work and which ones don’t. They practice with each best practices technique and leave this portion of the workshop with a cluster of strategies to enhance their vocabulary instruction.

Virtual Opportunity:

Van Cleave offers a virtual two-part, 3-hour general vocabulary workshop for groups of no more than 25. These hands-on, interactive workshops include Beck’s three-tier model, criteria for word selection, and an exploration of best practices for work with vocabulary.  Participants leave this workshop with a better sense of what matters when it comes to vocabulary and strategies they can implement with their students immediately.

Morphology Matters: Using Roots & Affixes to Build Vocabulary and Advanced Decoding

Most curricula and standards recognize the importance of morphology (or the study of roots and affixes to guide vocabulary instruction) as early as 2nd grade. Recognizing that schooling often provides word study only at the primary level, this workshop picks up where basic word attack leaves off.

Both research and state standards recognize the importance of morphology, or the study of bases and affixes, even in the primary grades. In this hands-on, interactive workshop, participants first explore the origins of our language and how that knowledge impacts word meaning and spelling. Then, they work towards developing word sense using a problem-solving approach. They work with a number of tools, including powerful word matrices, in developing their understanding of how morphology can help untangle challenging words and build overall vocabulary in students of all ages and skills. They learn the components of a lesson, practice with a number of activities, and leave the workshop with both a better sense of morphology and an understanding of how to approach it with their students.

Click here to download a handout for Word Smarts: Using Roots & Affixes to Build Vocabulary and Advanced Decoding.

Virtual Opportunities:

Van Cleave offers a virtual three-part, 6-hour morphology intensive course for groups of no more than 25. These hands-on, interactive workshops include the research behind morphology, an exploration of the origins of our language, strategies to apply a problem-solving approach, including an introduction to word matrices, components of an effective lesson, and plenty of hands-on activities they can implement with their students immediately following the workshop.

Those that complete the Morphology Intensive may opt to participate in Morphology 2, which continues the study with additional word investigation, use of various online tools, and lesson creation and critique.

Morphology for Instructors in the Content Areas

Educators often mistakenly believe that morphology study – or the study of word parts for meaning – is best done exclusively in language arts or reading/writing courses. This workshop, aimed at instructors of the other core subjects (e.g., history/social studies, math, literature, and science), explains the importance of direct and explicit vocabulary study for understanding textbooks and other content-specific materials. Van Cleave provides a brief history of the language and follows it with a hands-on opportunity for participants to learn to analyze content-based words. As time permits participants will examine their own textbooks and other course materials with these invaluable vocabulary tools in mind.

Multi-Sensory Instruction

Why Multi-Sensory Instruction Works

This keynote addresses the brain as a means of justifying multisensory instruction. The audience examines a definition of dyslexia and how it applies to our current understanding of the brain. Finally, participants study current research and how the tenets of multisensory instruction address the needs of the student with language-based learning difficulties.

An Introduction to Multisensory Instruction

Participants in this workshop learn about visual, auditory, and kinesthetic pathways. Using this foundation as a springboard, the presenter introduces the tenets of basic decoding and spelling instruction, including symbol to sound and sound to symbol relationships, kinds of syllables, and syllable division strategies.

Phonological Awareness: What It Is & How to Teach It

Research overwhelmingly supports the importance of phonological awareness instruction in young children. This hands-on, interactive workshop develops in teachers an understanding of the sound system that governs spoken English; activities designed to develop good phonological awareness in students; and best practices to address strugglers. A significant amount of time is devoted to interactive practice with the phonemes of the language so that instructors have the knowledge they need to teach students accurately and effectively.

Sensible Spelling Strategies

Students with language-based learning difficulties have a difficult time with activities requiring rote memory. Participants approach spelling cognitively, learning the systems that govern the language and how best to instruct students to improve spelling. Students learn useful patterns, spelling generalizations, and techniques for teaching students to use them effectively.

Orton-Gillingham Based Instruction

This multi-day course provides teachers with an in-depth understanding of the English language and the most logical, systematic approach to teaching it. Participants learn about the structure of the English language, basic phonics, the motor component, encoding and decoding strategies, written expression, advanced word structure, the make-up of the brain, teaching strategies, and lesson planning. While this workshop does include some lecture, a substantial amount of time is given over to practicing with the material and learning how best to integrate it into the classroom or tutorial. (Offered in five-day and ten-day versions; Audience – Mainstream and Special Education Teachers, Tutors, Speech Pathologists, Administrators)

Book your Professional Development onsite training today with W.V.C.ED.