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Comprehension

On Science Reading, Informational Text, and Reading Pullout Programs

Question:

More Bad Ideas About Why We Should Avoid Complex Text Reading Instruction

This posting responds to some public comments made by various colleagues concerning complex text and its use in instruction (see related post, What's the Difference Between Close Reading and Teaching Complex Text?). My comments are responses to their handwringing over the requirement that we teach kids to read complex text. 

What's the Difference Between Close Reading and Teaching Complex Text?

Teacher question

Aren’t “teaching with complex text” and “teaching close reading” really the same idea, just in different words? Some of my teachers are confused by these terms. Some of them, like me, think they are the same idea, while others think they are really two different standards. How can I clarify this for them?

Shanahan's response

I must admit that the first time this confusion presented itself to me, I was pretty darned surprised.

What Does Listening Capacity Tell Us About Reading?

Teacher question:

I was wondering if you are able to provide me with a clearer understanding of what a “silent reading and listening capacity test” is all about. 

Shanahan's response:

Bringing Amelia Bedelia’s Antics to Life

Acting stories out is a brilliant way to get to the heart of what children are reading. And not only does story dramatization have positive effects on language development and student achievement, it is an absolute blast. Wren and her Namma, Jan Worthington, take us behind the scenes of their recent page to stage adventure.

Are read-alongs (round robin, popcorn) a good idea?

Teacher question:

I'm a UK teacher; we use read-along here a lot (the teacher or pupils read a text to the whole class while the other pupils follow in their own text). There is a growing concern that this is ineffective for several reasons. Chief at the moment is that reading and listening simultaneously has a higher cognitive load than either independent reading or listening alone. What do you recommend?

Shanahan's response:

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.

Are E-Books a Good Idea for the Science Class?

Teacher question:

 A colleague asked me about using e-books in high school science classes instead of textbooks. I like the idea that e-books might be more current and kids would likely read outside of class if they didn’t have to lug a huge book home. However, I remember reading something about the brain processing the reading of e-books differently than traditional texts. Do you know of any sound research on that?

Shanahan's response:

I knew this question was coming.

Does Reader's Workshop Promote Close Reading Adequately?

Teacher question

I’m a regular reader and it seems to me that you undervalue activities like Reader’s Workshop and what it can do for children. Letting them pick their own books is great for their motivation and this isn’t like free reading, independent reading, or SSR because I meet with them regularly, one-on-one, to talk about what they are reading. There is more to teaching reading than phonics lessons or fluency practice. 

Shanahan's response:

Independent Readers, Independent Thinkers

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"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." — Frederick Douglass