Curriculum and instruction

My Principal Wants to Improve Test Scores ... Is He Right?

Teacher question:

How Do I Teach Main Idea?

Teacher question:

Last week, I read your blog about how to teach theme to students by having them track character changes across a story and determine what lesson the character learns to determine the overall theme.Can you offer advice on determining the main idea of an informational text? Specifically, for third grade, students must determine the main idea, recount the key details and explain how the key details support the main idea. What is the best way HOW to teach this to third graders?

Shanahan’s response:

The Whys and Hows of Research and the Teaching of Reading

I talk a lot about research in this space.

I argue for research-based instruction and policy.

I point out a dearth of empirical evidence behind some instructional schemes, and champion others that have been validated or verified to my satisfaction.

Some readers are happy to find out what is “known,” and others see me as a killjoy because the research findings don’t match well with what they claim to “know.”

Gradual Release of Responsibility and Complex Text

Teacher question:

Do Learning Centers and Seatwork Improve Reading Achievement?

Teacher questions:

I am an elementary literacy coach. A trend I am seeing in our K-2 classrooms are center activities not aligned to measurable outcomes. My question is, in a room of 24 first graders, when the teacher is pulling a small group to deliver targeted instruction, what does research say is best for what the other students to be doing? I'm struggling to find a model that we can confidently start driving towards.  

What do you think of Guided Reading for secondary school?

Teacher question:

Should We Teach with Decodable Text?

Teacher question

Please share your thinking as well as research referencing the occasional use of decodable texts for small group reading instruction in grades K-2. 

Shanahan's response

Implementing Higher Literacy Standards or Putting on a Show?

Back in the 1930s, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney always seemed to be putting on a show. They were going to be sent to a farm to work for the summer in Babes in Arms, but they wanted to go to Broadway instead — and they did!

Synthetic Phonics or Systematic Phonics? What Does Research Really Say?

It happened again this week.

Awhile back I was a member of the National Reading Panel (NRP) that reviewed instructional research on the teaching of reading at the request of the U.S. Congress. One of my roles was to serve on the “alphabetics committee” that reviewed the research on phonemic awareness and phonics instruction.

Since then it has happened numerous times, like it did this week.

Some self-proclaimed phonics authority attributes findings to the NRP that we didn’t actually find (usually because they didn’t actually read it).

Should We "Platoon" Reading Instruction

Teacher question:

We are trying to raise our third-grade reading scores. What do you think of “platooning” to help us meet that goal?

Shanahan's response:

Platooning, or what in my time was called “departmentalization,” is apparently on the rise in America’s primary grades. Schools like yours are hungry to raise reading and math achievement, and this looks like an inexpensive way to do it.

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"If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book." —

J.K. Rowling