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Where Does Content Fit In Literacy Learning? Learning to Dance and Talk at the Same Time

Years ago I took ballroom dance. I used to write about those experiences in this space. It was a great opportunity for me as teacher, since with dance I struggled greatly (something there is about having your legs bound for the first year of life that makes graceful movement a challenge).

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.

Hidden Lives of Wolves: An Interview with Jim and Jamie Dutcher

Jim and Jamie Dutcher

A recent book for young readers and a presentation by the authors for 3rd and 4th grade children reminded me how much damage stereotypes and misinformation can create. In this case, Jim and Jamie Dutcher have spent their professional lives as filmmakers and writers documenting the real lives of wolves in an effort to correct the erroneous and ultimately destructive misconceptions about these magnificent and important creatures.

We're Going on Five Planes!

Carol and her kids explore the topic of flight with a visit to the National Air and Space Museum. Their ongoing exploration of flight continues during their summer travels as they learn about Amelia Earhart, go on five planes, and make their own paper airplanes.

What Can Librarians Do to Support Student Literacy?

From a reader:

Any thoughts on top 2 or 3 literacy concepts on which you would focus librarians? Grades 4-8?

My response:

Let me say how happy I am that you are available to students and teachers. As I make my way across the country I find fewer and fewer school-based librarians. Unfortunately, you appear to be part of a disappearing breed. Here are a few ideas.

Content

It’s a Tomato Warning!

Carol and her family share their gardening adventures. They learn the virtue of patience when it comes to gardening with some help from a book called And Then It’s Spring, and experience the satisfaction of growing their own fruits and vegetables from seed.

The other day, Addie asked me, “Mommy, why was there a tomato warning?”

“A tomato warning?” I repeated, confused.

“Yes, a tomato warning. It happened during the thunderstorm.”

Disciplinary Vocabulary

When I was 8, there were two boys, Chris and Paul. They were both tow-heads, gentle and quiet, with loping walks; and both could draw beautifully… if a teacher struggled to draw a straight line or a round circle on the chalkboard, she’d ask Chris or Paul, who could do it, seemingly without effort.

Madam President

Addie explores the idea of becoming President. With a visit to the Lincoln Memorial, and a candid “what if I were President” interview with her mom, we get to see the world through the eyes of a five and half year old.

About a month ago, Addie came home from school, and said to me, “Mom, you can become President.”

“OK, why is that?”

“Because you have to be 35 to be President. And you’re 35!” (In all honesty, I’m 35+2, but why ruin a perfectly good moment by pointing out a harmless error).

Laura’s Little Schools

On the Little Journey, both Avery and Janet had a special interest in schools where Laura studied or taught since Avery has always loved to play school and Janet has taught students at all levels — from early elementary to graduate school. Janet writes below about the striking differences and not so surprising similarities we found between the schoolhouses in De Smet and those of today.

The end of a month

I read a statement on a publisher’s blog that resonated with me: “Black History is American History.” (The publisher is Lee & Low, a press known for publishing diverse books.)

I’ve written about this before and still believe that the sooner we get rid of hyphenated Americans, the better off we’ll be, able to have fuller discussions and let readers of all ages revel in the diversity that is us. 

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"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase