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Classroom strategies

Leadership and the Power of School Relationships

In the last few weeks I've visited five schools in four states. Each of them educates large numbers of students from low-income homes and students of color, and each is either high-performing or on an impressive improvement trajectory.

The schools are different in lots of ways, but one thing characterizes them all: Teachers, principals, and other administrators work hard at building trusting relationships that help create a sense of agency and purpose.

Here are three examples of what I mean:

Teaching Reading Comprehension and Comprehension Strategies

Teacher question: In terms of teaching comprehension to grade 3-5 students, what is the best way to help the readers transfer the strategies they are taught so they can be independent, self-regulated readers?

Shanahan's response:  If you want to teach reading comprehension strategies to on-grade level students between the ages of 8-10, we have a pretty good idea of how to do that successfully. The teaching of strategies is a good focus as well, given the large amount of research showing that strategy instruction can be beneficial.

Inclusion: Advice, Keys to Educating Diverse Early Learners with Dual Language + Disabilities

The Iris Center announces a new IRISSTAR Legacy Module, Dual Language Learners with Disabilities: Supporting Young Children in the Classroom. It is free online and offers ideas for serving diverse early learners in a classroom where instruction must take into account multiple languages, cultures, diverse learning needs, and backgrounds.

Does Assistive Tech Support Young Writers with Disabilities?

NaNoWriMo is a marathon writing event that challenges participants to write the first draft of a 50,000­ word novel in November. There are local chapters in more than 600 regions around the world that organize in-­person workshops and write­-ins throughout the month. 

20 Questions/Answers about Dyslexia That Teachers Can Use to Reshape Instruction

Dyslexia often is confusing for parents and teachers as the manner in which it presents can differ widely among children and youths. Dyslexia can go undetected for a long time, but it is neurologically based, known to be inherited, and will not be outgrown. Once students fall behind, their problems connected with reading, writing, and spelling can become complicated by negative feelings that affect their self-esteem.

How Much Comprehension Strategy Instruction?

From a teacher:

I have read a few articles and books by Daniel Willingham in the past, and I wonder if you are familiar with his work. I recently read an article about reading comprehension strategies and am curious to know what you think of his ideas. He says that focusing heavily on reading strategies isn’t really necessary.

Making Whole Class Work More Effective

Recently, I wrote about the quandary of grouping. Small group instruction supports greater student engagement, higher amounts of interaction, greater opportunity for teacher observation, and more student learning. However, the benefits of small group are balanced by the relative ineffectiveness of most seatwork activities. Subtracting the downside of working on one's own away from the teacher from the clear benefits of small group teaching, one ends up with little advantage to all of the effort of orchestrating the small-group oriented classroom.

Video Trailers Whet Learner Appetites for Audiobooks: A Strategy for Struggling Readers

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb is a trailer from Libro.fm. Viewing the video is a strategy that could engage readers with an audiobook and its author and or illustrator before listening.

Close Reading: A Video Replay

Last week, I provided a link to a close reading video that a reader sent me. The link purported to present a model “close reading” lesson.

Although, there was much to like about the lesson, I complained that it wasn't close reading. Close reading is not a synonym for reading comprehension (or even "really good reading comprehension").

A Close Read of a Close Reading Video

My daughters are Erin and Meagan. When they were little, Meagan would get upset because we always “ran Erins,” but never “ran Meagans.” That’s cute when a little one doesn’t know the meaning of a word. But such miscommunication can be a real problem in Common Core State Standards implementation. It’s getting so that I hate to hear the term “close reading” because it is misused so often these days. A comment from a reader of last week’s blog entry challenged me to evaluate an online video of a close reading lesson.

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"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." — Kate DiCamillo