by Dr. Roxie Sporleder

I began my teaching career as a first grade teacher.  On the first day, my mentor, who was a wonderful teacher, told me that some children would not be able to read for about four months. Their reading skills would proceed slowly.

My heart sank because I knew the long term consequences their failure would have. They would be at least a half year behind, unable to read at grade level by the end of the year.

 I knew poor readers tended to remain poor readers. My own sister was one of those poor readers and I saw her struggle throughout her school years.

And so I began an urgent quest for strategies that would enable these children to finish first grade reading at grade level. I did find strategies and they all finished at or above grade level. But I had not yet seen all the problems students could have.

Each year, no matter whether I was teaching first, second, third, or fourth grade, I continued my research, discarding strategies that didn’t seem to make much difference, keeping those that made a difference.


Then I discovered the scientific research on the brain.  It transformed my teaching. I began implementing the skills and sequence in my classroom. I was amazed at the results. Students not only enjoyed learning to read, they were also successful. Then students from older grades came to my classroom and I helped them “catch up.”  Soon I taught students of all ages in and outside of the classroom. They also made unexpected gains in their reading skills.       

It finally came time to share the curriculum with other teachers. Would they see the same results?  I called it Word Workshop. As other teachers implemented the skills and strategies, they saw the same results.   In the day to day use, they called the curriculum “Roxie” rather than Word Workshop.  I finally renamed the curriculum RoxieReading. These wonderful teachers gave support and instructive feedback that makes the curriculum what it is today. My Story has become Our Story.


Dr. Roxie Sporleder is a reading specialist with over 40 years of experience teaching. She has taught students of all ages with various abilities and disabilities as well as the educators who teach them.

She has been a classroom teacher, a school principal, a professional development trainer, a university professor, and is currently Professor Emeritus at Indiana Wesleyan University. She is also the author of The Secrets to Teaching Reading.