February 13, 2019

Teacher question

I'm looking for help with information or resources about text types for early readers. We have decodable text, text with high-frequency words, and predictive text. It seems like a reasonable strategy to provide our fragile readers with more opportunities to read these low-complexity texts while we shore up issues with phonological awareness. Many...

January 30, 2019

Teacher question:

If you were teaching second-grade what would your schedule look like?

Shanahan's response:

This question — in various forms — came up a lot this week in response to last week’s posting. Here is my thinking on this.

I start from the premise that I want kids to get between 120-180 minutes per day of reading...

January 7, 2019

Teacher question: 

How much does reading speed matter?  And if it is important, what is the best way to develop it in our learners? I’ve heard that 100 wpm is the minimal speed for comprehension. Is that a real thing? I believe the average speed is 200 wpm. 

Shanahans response:

I can find no minimal reading or listening speed for...

December 3, 2018

Teacher letter:

30% of our children are second-language learners — mainly from Mexico and Central America. The reason that I’m writing is that our school’s RtI program only provides Tier 2 interventions that are aimed at teaching decoding. That means when our 1st and 2nd graders are having trouble in reading (and many of them are), they get more phonics teaching....

April 18, 2018

Teacher question:

I wonder if you could comment on your blog about this crazy idea that the reading specialists should change the program every 12 weeks if a student is not showing growth on the one-minute reading fluency measure. I have second grade student who reads 80 wcpm with 97% accuracy. She made great growth in the fall but has leveled out this...

January 23, 2018

Teacher question:

I am a reading coordinator. We are in our first year of implementing a new reading program. As we have rolled out the new curriculum, we've been explicit about the reading instructional practices and routines that we expect to see used each day. We’ve had lots of PD. How else are we going to know the impact that the series has on our achievement...

December 1, 2017

Teacher question:

I'm a UK teacher; we use read-along here a lot (the teacher or pupils read a text to the whole class while the other pupils follow in their own text). There is a growing concern that this is ineffective for several reasons. Chief at the moment is that reading and listening simultaneously has a higher cognitive load than either independent...

October 6, 2017

Teacher question:

I am a reading specialist at a K-5 elementary school and I am working with classroom teachers to implement a book buddy program where older students (2nd and 3rd grade) will read to younger students (K and 1st grade). I am planning to spend some time with the older students to coach them on selecting appropriate books and engaging their buddies by...

September 25, 2017

Teacher question

I have a question regarding my school's reading program. My question today is about the reading portion of our literacy block and most specifically the partner reading and independent reading.

I'm finding that my homogenous group of fourth-grade students aren’t fluent readers. The routine expectation is that partners take turns...

August 22, 2017

Teacher question:

I coordinate reading interventions for my district. I have been told to stop referring to the National Reading Panel, as it is old and no longer relevant. Our universal screener is based on the 5 components of reading, and our basal interventions are also aligned to the "big 5". I don't think there is any way for me to stop referencing the NRP....

August 4, 2017

We’re in the dog days of summer. Not many questions coming in right now — normal for periods when schools aren’t in session. But the following query came to me this week from Ireland via Twitter.

Teacher question:

Any link to how the Repeated Reading strategy works? How long text can be repeated, how long can text be, depends on accuracy?...

July 10, 2017

A few months ago, I read Mark Seidenberg’s Language at the Speed of Sight. Seidenberg is a psychologist who studies reading, and his book is remarkably intelligent, frank, and witty. I think there is an occasional mistake or ambiguity here and there, but overall I was mesmerized.


May 28, 2017

Teacher question:

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

Shanahan's response:

I love this question because it cuts to the heart of everything we do. If teachers don’t have clear purchase on what it takes to become a good reader, and what some kids might be...

April 4, 2017

A native of Vermont, Erica S. Perl now lives in Washington, D.C., where she writes a range of books for young readers. She has done very funny picture books, novels for middle grade as well as books for young adults, and most recently a novel in play form,

Your book,...

March 23, 2017

Welcome Madelyn Rosenberg to Book Life! Madelyn is a mom, journalist, and the author of nine books for children. Her newest book, This Is Just a Test, with Wendy Wan-Long Shang, comes out on June 27.

Guest post by Madelyn Rosenberg

For my elementary school acting debut, I was a box of granola...

October 28, 2016

Letter to Shanahan:   I found these troubling quotes in the Report of the National Reading Panel:   "Fluency, the ability to read a text quickly, accurately, and with proper expression..."   "Fluent readers can read text with speed, accuracy, and proper expression..."   My dismay is due to (a) listing rate...

February 2, 2016

Teacher Question: A question has come up that I don't know how to address and I would love your input. For years, we have used the Hasbrouck/Tindal fluency norms as one of the ways we measure our student's reading progress. For example, the 4th grade midyear 50th percentile is 112 CWPM. The fourth grade team has chosen a mid-year running record passage and is finding that...

January 20, 2016

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...

January 5, 2016

If you have ever had surgery, you probably have had the weird experience of signing off on a bunch of medical paperwork. The oddest form is the one that gives the surgeon permission to assault you. Think about it. Usually we don’t want people poking at us with knives. Doctors can’t do that either, unless we give our permission. Otherwise, every tonsillectomy would lead to a 911 call.



"What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person ..." —

Carl Sagan