PD Presentations

Workshops (1/2 or full day)

Teachers rave about Nancy's workshops!

Lindsay C.

Teacher in in B.C., Canada

I recently had the pleasure of participating in one of Nancy’s two-day professional development workshops. It was centered on her new book  “Secret Code Actions” and offered a fun, and informative approach to literacy instruction. Nancy is a dynamic and engaging speaker and her workshop presented fascinating information about brain science and reading. She promoted collaboration and connection with other teachers, and presented many hands-on active activities throughout. I left the workshop feeling invigorated and excited to apply my new knowledge in the classroom. I would highly recommend this fantastic learning opportunity!

J Cooney
Grade 2 classroom teacher
, Canada

I recently attended Nancy’s workshop on supporting students reading.  I have struggled with explaining aspects of written English in a way that was engaging and memorable to my students.  Nancy’s book and instruction have given me some amazing ideas to use with my students.   I am excited to get back to my classroom and put it to use.

I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your presentation on the secrets of the code. It was full of excellent information and was fantastically presented. It was the best ProD I've attended in a long while and I found things immediately coming up and being useful in lessons on Monday morning. I'm really thankful for all your hard work! 

Craig Sheridan
Learning Support Teacher 

Surrey, BC, Canada 


Teacher in B.C., Canada

I attended a two-day workshop featuring Nancy and her new book. It was the most informative workshop I have been to about teaching children to read...this workshop was fascinating and explained so much about how the brain has to change in order to learn to read. I can see how teaching the "Secret Code Actions" of the complicated English language will provide my students with a meaningful connection to the phonemes and graphemes involved in learning to read. Thank you again, Nancy, for a great workshop.

Tyson Schoeber

Teacher, The THRIVE Program

Nootka Elementary School


Your presentation on the secrets of the code was one of the very best I have ever attended! You not only explained to teachers why reading instruction needs to be structured, but you showed how much fun it can be for kids if they are moving while they learn! If your methods were used in more schools, I think there would be far fewer kids with reading problems out there!

Available in-person or online.

Learning the English code using Secret Code Actions

This active workshop has teachers up and moving while increasing their knowledge of the “secrets of the code” – the specific concepts that underlie proficiency in reading (decoding) and spelling (encoding). Equipped with a copy of the book Secret Code Actions™ participants will assume the role of Word Detectives as they:

  • Glimpse into the unnatural process of learning to read and spell, and the challenges so many children face as they try to climb the “Ladder of Reading”.

  • Investigate the components of instruction that are advantageous for all students, necessary for most students and absolutely crucial for students diagnosed as dyslexic.

  • Discover how to integrate code-based kinesthetic mnemonics into reading/spelling instruction.

  • See how using movement enables engaging reading/spelling practice opportunities to take place across the school day (including during mandated DPA – Daily Physical Activity), providing the repetition so many students need.

  • Find out that laughter and fun can be a part of learning to read and spell the fascinating “secrets of the code”!  


Every workshop participant will receive a copy of the book Secret Code Actions™: A Resource to Support Learning to Read and Spell the English Language (Teacher Edition), and leave the workshop set to use it as an instructional tool for all learners.

Presentations (1.5 to 3 hours)

Climbing the Ladder of Reading: Instruction for children climbing slowly AND leaping up!

A very small number of children enter kindergarten already reading. Others learn to read at an expected pace once at school. For a significant number of children, however, mastering the skills needed to decipher the written code to be able to read independently is challenging. Using the Ladder of Reading (Nancy Young), this presentation addresses two factors that affect children as they learn to read: 1) The range of ease when learning to read; a task that humans are not born to do naturally; and 2) Reading instruction provided in the classroom. Nancy Young will summarize the instructional needs of children who do not learn to read easily and elaborate on the advantages of such instruction for advanced readers. Nancy will share examples of teaching strategies, including code-based movement activities, demonstrating how intellectually engaging and fun the learning journey can be for all!

Hanging in the balance: An engaging and interactive session on why many “balanced” literacy programs are UNbalanced

Many schools describe their literacy programs as balanced. Sadly, unbeknownst to teachers and leadership, such instruction is often UNbalanced due to poor teacher training and vague curriculums. This session will begin with an overview of the range of ease in reading acquisition using the Ladder of Reading, N. Young 2017. The instructional components the reading science has shown to be essential will be summarized and an overview as to which are insufficiently addressed in - or missing from - many classrooms will be presented. Attendees will learn the importance of systematic and explicit instruction in the code for students at risk (dyslexia, ELL, impoverished environment) and how children learning to read/spell/write more effortlessly can be advantaged by such instruction. The session will include some code-based movements to help participants experience how learning and practicing the components of the English code can be fascinating and fun all!

Insights into “sight words”: What does this term mean?

Some curriculums, including British Columbia (Canada), state that students must be able to identify “sight” words in grades 1, 2 and 3, yet this term is not defined. We’ll discuss ways this term is defined in many schools and then Nancy will share the definition supported by the research on how children learn to read.  Some common words on the Dolch and Fry word list will be examined, and Nancy will describe popular, yet often ineffective, approaches to mastery of these words. Nancy will explain why a whole word memorization approach can both delay reading progress and lead to emotional and behavioural consequences. Teachers will leave with a better understanding of term “sight words” and the need to teach all common words in conjunction with explicit and systematic instruction of the code.

A glimpse into the reading brain and the challenge of dyslexia

This presentation gives an overview of learning to read. It will explain why learning to read is not natural, and summarize the components of instruction that the research has shown to be essential for the majority of learners in order to build reading circuitry within the brain. It will briefly address the challenges faced by learners who are dyslexic (including those with dyslexia who also have a diagnosis of ADHD and/or Giftedness). It will suggest how early and ongoing screening can help schools determine which students may face challenges, and why additional assessment may be needed for some of these students. Remediation approaches will be summarized, focusing on early intervention but recognizing that many learners in the upper grades within schools are struggling. (Remember - it is never too late to remediate skills!)

We are all teachers of literacy

Intended for teachers of all grades, this presentation focuses on learning to read as a continuous and multicomponent process encompassing every grade and curriculum area. The session will begin with a look at how reading skills are tied to content mastery in core subject areas (science, math and social studies), as well as other subjects such as music and drama. An overview as to how the reading brain develops will then be presented, including the continuum of reading mastery demonstrated by the research. Instructional implications of meeting the needs of the wide range of reading skills will be addressed, including specific suggestions as to ways teachers can weave the essentials needed to build strong readers (such as morphological knowledge) into any subject-area instruction.

Secret Code Actions!






© 2020, Nancy Young

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • YouTube Social  Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • LinkedIn Social Icon

Sign up for tips, news and updates from Nancy:

By submitting your name and email address you consent to receive emails from Nancy Young and Secret Code Actions. You can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell or rent your email address to anyone. We value your privacy.

Be sure to add nyoung@nancyyoung.ca

to your safe senders list!

Author of Secret Code Actions