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Curriculum & instruction

Is Building Knowledge the Best Way to Increase Literacy Achievement?

Teacher question:

How Do You Make a Good Reader? Just the Basics

Teacher question:

What makes good readers? What are kids lacking making them not so good readers?

Shanahan's response:

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.

How Should We Combine Reading and Writing?

Teacher question:

So today I was conducting a workshop. I was told the teachers wanted information about reading/writing connections. Easy, right? Then I was told that they departmentalize K-6! At every grade they have a reading teacher and a different writing teacher. Any thoughts, comments, best practices, or research that would go against or support this practice? I know what I believe to be correct, but would love to have your opinions in this conversation. 

Shanahan's response: 

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.

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"The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read." — Abraham Lincoln