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If You Really Want Higher Test Scores: Rethink Reading Comprehension Instruction

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) began testing fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-graders in 1970 to find out how well American kids could read. NAEP was to evaluate national reading performance twice a decade. The idea wasn’t to provide an estimate of how well each child could read, but simply to index the level of American literacy. In fact, back then NAEP wasn’t even allowed to describe how the individual states were doing; and, at that time no states were evaluating reading.

Boy, have things changed.

A Spirited Reaction to One District's Approach to Standards-Based Reading Instruction

Teacher question:
My district has moved into an approach of asking teachers to locate materials for standards-based instruction. They have opted to create assessments to isolate individual standards to teach/test each standard individually. Each assessment is named by reading standard and is associated with grade-level English Language Arts courses. What thoughts do you have on how I might guide them to move from assessing isolated standards to a more integrated approach?

Shanahan's response:

Don’t Let Content Area Reading Experts Confuse You About Disciplinary Literacy

About the queries:

Graphic Novel Conversion

Welcome Colleen Dykema to Book Life! Colleen is an award-winning ESL teacher and reading specialist with Arlington Public Schools. Her teaching career began in 1972, and since 2000 she’s worked with English language learners at Swanson Middle School. A great believer that “reading is our personal reward — our private space to grow and explore,” Colleen had an “aha” moment this school year about reading graphic novels.

Disciplinary Literacy: The Basics

A slew of letters seeking ideas on disciplinary literacy:

Teacher 1: The Common Core highlights that every teacher is a reading and writing teacher in their discipline. I think this idea is important in combination with the best practices for content area learning. My main interest in this is based on helping students who struggle to learn to read in early grade levels, and, as a result, can quickly get behind when "reading to learn" in the secondary grades.

Instructional Level and Teaching with Complex Text

Boy, oh, boy! The past couple weeks have brought unseasonably warm temperatures to the Midwest, and unusual flurries of questions concerning teaching children at their, so-called, “instructional levels.” Must be salesman season, or something.

Who Has Authority Over Meaning? Part II

In my last entry, I explored some ideas concerning what role authors play in our interpretation of text. As with many controversies in the garden of literary criticism, nothing is settled, but an exquisite tension has been created. It is this tension that mature readers need to learn to negotiate — and that we have to prepare them for.

It All Started with a Question

It all started with a question. What was their story? Author Linda Barrett Osborne wanted to find out more about her great grandparents who came from Italy in the 1880s and 1890s to the United States — much like the English who settled in Jamestown, Virginia, in the 17th century.

Who Has Authority Over Meaning: Authors or Readers?

I’m often asked if the questions I publish here are “real.” That is, do teachers, really ask me these things? The questions definitely are real. Though they come to me in a variety of ways.

Not long ago a colleague contacted me for my advice on a question she’d been asked. She was surprised to see that one show up on my blog. Other times, I might be giving a talk and a question comes from the audience. I remember it later and answer it again for you.

This week’s “question” is less a query than a confluence of two recent experiences.

Eight Ways to Help Kids to Read Complex Text

Teacher Question:

My district is currently "grappling" with the idea of asking students to read complex text if they are significantly below the grade level. As an example, within one fourth grade class, a teacher identified that more than half her class is 1-2 grade levels below the expectation for reading (using multiple measures). Her response is to change the level of the text, and try to move the students forward. The common theme in our schools is that growth is what matters, not proficiency.

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