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Comprehension

Reading Aloud to Kids and Why Lessons Need Purposes

Teacher question:

Teachers in grades 3, 4 and 5 spend weeks and weeks (like 5-6) reading aloud chapter books to their students. In some classrooms, students have a copy of the book.  Is there research that speaks to the effectiveness of a read-aloud over a period of time?

Does student interest wane after two weeks or so? 

Are there ways to think strategically about read aloud time ... to incorporate instruction? 

What do we want students to know and be able to do as a result of a read aloud in this context? 

New Evidence on Teaching Reading at Frustration Levels

For generations, reading experts have told teachers that they had to teach students to read at their instructional levels. Teachers were admonished that if they taught children with books that were too easy, there would be nothing for the kids to learn. If they taught with books that were too hard, then the reading instruction would frustrate rather than improve.

In general, that kind of advice makes sense. Spend all the time you want teaching me my ABCs and it won’t likely improve my reading ability at my advanced level of performance.

The Role of Motivation in Teaching with Complex Text

I’m vacationing in Aix-en-Provence. I’ve written before about teaching myself to read French, and now I’m enrolled in a spoken French class. Très hard!!!

Maybe not much of a vacation, and, yet, I’m gaining valuable insights into what we must do to teach successfully with complex text.

Our tour includes about a dozen people; some are studying French, and some are not. Because our group is petite, they could only provide two French options. One for absolute beginners, and the other a mid-level French course attended by immigrants to France.

How Complex a Text Can I Scaffold?

Teacher question:

Our Younger Readers are Doing Better, So What's He Upset about Now?

Great report about beginning reading achievement in the most recent issue of Educational Researcher (Literacy Achievement Trends at Entry to First Grade). D’Agostino and Rodgers show that, beginning literacy skills have improved annually from 2002 through 2013. Beginning first-graders have steadily improved in letter identification, phonemic awareness, concepts about print, writing vocabulary, word reading, and text reading.

Reading in the Spotlight

Welcome Madelyn Rosenberg to Book Life! Madelyn is a mom, journalist, and the author of nine books for children. Her newest book, This Is Just a Test, with Wendy Wan-Long Shang, comes out on June 27.

How Much Reading Gain Should be Expected from Reading Interventions?

This week’s challenging question:
 
I had a question from some schools people that I’m not sure how to answer. I wonder if anyone has data on what progress can be expected of students in the primary grades getting extra help in reading.
 
Let’s assume that the students are getting good/appropriate instruction, and the data were showing that 44% of students (originally assessed as “far below”) across grades 1-3 were on pace to be on grade level after two years of this extra help.

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.

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.

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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