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Questions and answers about the Common Core

There are lots of questions out there about implementing the Common Core State Standards. Over at Shanahan on Literacy, Professor Tim Shanahan has posted the questions and answers from a recent webinar he did on the Common Core. I recommend hopping over there to scroll through the whole post — I suspect many of you are asking the same questions as these webinar participants!

Among the topics covered:

Literacy pledge cards for parents

I'm very excited about a new project I've been working on. It's a series of webinars focused on Parent Engagement, produced by Reading Rockets in partnership with the Campaign for Grade Level Reading. You can read more about the series here. You can also see the PPT slides our presenters used for the first webinar, and links to many related resources. We'll update that page each time we have a new webinar.

Learning outcomes versus teaching tools

Over at Shanahan on Literacy, Dr. Shanahan wrote an interesting post We Zigged When We Should Have Zagged about the lack of comprehension strategies in the Common Core State Standards.

New reality series: Kindergarten Teacher

Congratulations to Patricia Raina, from Suisun Valley K-8 School in Fairfield, California! Ms. Raina was one of three teachers from across the nation selected as winners of an NBC Education Nation essay contest.

Her idea? A new reality show: Kindergarten Teacher. Ms. Raina's essay is cleverly written in the form of "rounds" Contestants try to move from round to round, although certain things disqualify a contestant immediately.

Teach handwriting. Really!

Richard Gentry and Steve Graham reaffirm the research about the importance of spelling and handwriting instruction in a new white paper. I'll write about the spelling research in a separate post, this one will focus on handwriting.

What's good for ELLs is good for all

If you follow us on Twitter, you know that I was in Chicago at a conference sponsored by the Center for Development and Learning. I've got lots to share from the conference; there were several great speakers and exhibitors. Many attendees came by the Reading Rockets booth to tell me that they use the site all the time, especially our Parent Tips.

How running a reading program is like running a campaign

As I write this blog on Wednesday morning after our historic presidential election, I'm struck by an article I read on msnbc.com. Howard Fineman summarized what he saw as Obama's seven-prong approach to his campaign that served him well.

It was easy for me to see how well these same seven prongs could serve schools and districts well as they consider how they teach reading.

Below are the seven prongs as described by Fineman, with each prong's relationship to reading summarized. See what you think!

Are word searches a waste of instructional time?

A question came to me via the Ask the Expert service that Reading Rockets provides. With the teacher's permission, I'm including it here to get your opinion.

Teaching vocabulary

A few weeks ago I blogged about a kindergarten lesson where the students were confused by the word pause, thinking the teacher meant applause or paws. I promised that teacher I'd send her some materials about vocabulary development with second language learners. I thought I'd share some of the resources I like.

Pause for applause and paws

I was lucky enough to spend a morning last week at an elementary school in New York City. I was there watching a choreographer prepare two classes of kindergartners for a field trip. The classes were going to watch an interpretive dance, and this artist was helping the students understand how dancers use their bodies to convey meaning.

The lesson moved along just as you might envision: some giggles, lots of bumping into each other, more giggles, and a few students unwilling to 'walk with their knees.'

"Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them." — Neil Gaiman