Struggling readers experience great difficulty in reading and
comprehending everyday work documents, textbooks, websites, and other media. Dr. JoAnne Caldwell and Dr. Molly Shiffler designed an
intervention model reflecting the complex nature of literacy acquisition.
Dr. Caldwell served as Associate Dean of the College of Education and
former Chair of the Reading Language Arts Department at Cardinal Stritch
University. She has actively participated in state task forces involving
changes in teacher certification and standards implementation. She and Dr.
Molly Shiffler developed the highly effective CLIFFTOPS model for literacy
intervention used at Stritch’s Literacy Centers. Both received Wisconsin
Association of School District Administrator awards; Caldwell was named
Wisconsin Educator of the Year. She has authored numerous books and articles in
the literacy field.
Shiffler is former director of the Urban Literacy Centers. She is currently
Professor Emerita following 11 years of teaching and writing undergraduate,
graduate and Ph.D. classes as a Language and Literacy faculty member at
Cardinal Stritch University. She received a Wisconsin Teacher of the Year /
Special Services in 1995; was part of an Early Childhood/Literacy Delegation to
Cuba in 2000; was selected for the National Board for Professional Teaching
Standards teacher portfolio pilot of K-3 Literacy: Reading-Language Arts
certificate; and was appointed by the State Superintendent of Public
Instruction to the Standards-Setting Panel for the Wisconsin Knowledge and
Concepts Examinations. She is also a recipient of the 2012 Graduate of the Last
Decade Alumni Award for her distinguished accomplishments and service to the
Caldwell and Shiffler's model is titled
CLIFFTOPS, an acronym for the plan's primary components:
layers, and (metacognitive)
Although highly adaptable to individual student needs, our lesson
formats are grounded in, and are developed from, the CLIFFTOPS model and include the well-researched
components of successful literacy intervention. This model is unique because not only is it research based, but the individualized instruction "is built around inquiry and what the student wants to learn. Our curricula are based in part on engaged motivation, through inspiring self-confidence and success as a reader." (Dr. Shiffler)
The current intervention formats use basics from this model but, depending on the results of initial clinical literacy assessment, they provide
more specific instruction in phonemic segmenting and blending (Hatcher,
Hulme, & Ellis, 1994), flexible metacognitive processing (Cartwright,
2008), fluency (Kuhn & Stahl, 2000; Wolf, Miller, & Donnelly, 2000),
and writing research (Baker, Gersten, & Graham, 2003).
|Data collected (in 2012) indicated that after 20 hours of individual tutoring, students' reading comprehension increased at least one whole grade level and their word recognition and accuracy increased almost two grade levels. |
Learning to Read
When students are learning to read, we stress the building
blocks of successful lifetime literacy: rich language, sound play, rhyming,
word study skills including phonics, fluency, vocabulary comprehension, and
At these stages of reading, we choose fiction and
nonfiction materials based on the student’s interests.
Lessons include research-based comprehension
strategies, word study, and spelling activities to ensure reading progress.
Reading to Learn
We help maturing readers understand how to gain information
from all forms of electronic and paper print.
We teach thinking strategies, word analysis, and study skills
students need to read for information, study more effectively, learn content,
and read for pleasure.
Students learn to recognize how textbooks are organized, take
notes, identify unfamiliar words, analyze new information, and derive word
meanings, learn content, and read for pleasure.