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Early literacy development

Is There Really a 30 Million Word Gap?

Teacher question:

I attended one of your recent presentations. You cited the Hart & Risley canard that there is a 30 million word gap. Aren’t you aware that study has been rejected? There is no word gap. Kids living in poverty have as much language support as other kids.

Shanahan response:

Research can get things wrong.

Should We Teach Letter Names?

Teacher question: 

Should we teach letter names or letter sounds to beginning readers?

Shanahan's response:

Twice recently teachers have asked this question. In both instances they said they’d been told teaching letter names confused children and that “best practice” was to focus on the sounds rather than the letter names.

How to Teach Writing in Kindergarten, Part II

Teacher question:

What are your thoughts about writing in Kindergarten? Is there a scientifically-researched instructional methodology that we should implement. We’ve been trying to embed writing opportunities within the literacy block related to the whole group listening comprehension text. Should students draw in relation to the prompt or question and then label, dictate, and/or write? Should teachers model phonetic spelling of words or the correct spelling? Any help would be appreciated.

Shanahan's response:

How to Teach Writing in Kindergarten

Teacher question:

What are your thoughts about writing in kindergarten? Is there a scientifically-researched instructional methodology that we should implement. We’ve been trying to embed writing opportunities within the literacy block related to the whole group listening comprehension text. Should students draw in relation to the prompt or question and then label, dictate, and/or write? Should teachers model phonetic spelling of words or the correct spelling? Any help would be appreciated.

Shanahan's response:

Early Learning

Our world continues to grow increasingly complex. We all want our children to succeed, but what exactly does that mean? 

Is it introducing academics earlier and earlier? How do we assure a child’s healthy social/emotional growth? Can we help young children live with others who have different backgrounds than their own? Might this imply that children have the ability to put themselves in another’s position? 

Sight Vocabulary for Preschool

Teacher question:

I am preschool teacher and I would like to know how I can implement a sight word program with 4 year old students. I have tried my best to implement at least three but I feel my strategies are not working. I am trying to do a program to help preschoolers to be ready when they go to kindergarten.

 Shanahan's response:

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.

Does Homework Improve Reading Achievement?

Letter to Shanahan:
 
Our school is in review which means that we have to improve reading test performance — or else. We are doing some crazy things with test preparation (that I know you disagree with), but we have also been ordered to put a big emphasis on reading homework. I’ve never been a big fan of homework because not all the kids do it and that doesn’t seem fair. What do you think about this strategy?
 
Shanahan's response:
 

The Role of Early Oral Language in Reading Comprehension

When I was 18 years old, I was a volunteer tutor in an inner-city school. I wasn’t an education major — that came later — but I was intent on saving the world. I was excited about the idea of going into the city and working with elementary school kids who were growing up in poverty.

Early Childhood and Assistive Tech Apps to Share During NAEYC's "Week of The Young Child"

Want an abundance of apps including assistive technology to enrich learning skills for children from birth to age 8? They are flowing this week. Here's why!

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"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark." — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables