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School-wide efforts

The Learner Characteristic that Leads to Different Learning

Last week, I pointed out that research had found few interactions in literacy learning. That is, research hasn't actually uncovered many situations in which different kinds of kids learn differently — despite many claims to the contrary.

Does One-Size-Fits-All Reading Instruction Work for Everyone?

Someone put a bug in my ear, and I started writing, and by the time I was done, I had two blogs rather than one. I'll set the table with this one, and bring it to conclusion next time.

One of the best things about research is that it can let the wind out of windbags and force some hard thinking. Our field suffers fatuous pronouncements as much as any. An example?

How about the constant drumbeat concerning the failure of “one size fits all” instructional approaches? Seemingly, everybody agrees with that one.

A Spirited Reaction to One District's Approach to Standards-Based Reading Instruction

Teacher question:
My district has moved into an approach of asking teachers to locate materials for standards-based instruction. They have opted to create assessments to isolate individual standards to teach/test each standard individually. Each assessment is named by reading standard and is associated with grade-level English Language Arts courses. What thoughts do you have on how I might guide them to move from assessing isolated standards to a more integrated approach?

Shanahan's response:

Can I Still Rely on the National Reading Panel Report?

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. Would you please comment?

Shanahan's response: 

For School Improvement, Demographics Aren’t Destiny

When I talk with teachers, I often find them flummoxed by my descriptions of "unexpected" schools. That’s the term I use to describe high-performing and rapidly improving schools with large populations of children of color and children living in poverty. These schools don’t fit the well-worn pattern of academic achievement tightly correlating with family income and ethnicity, a connection first documented by James S. Coleman in his eponymous 1966 report.

Teaching Reading in a Noisy Environment

Teacher question:

Our district is exploring and embracing Personalized Learning. We have a committee that has been going to professional development all year and a small group that is trying this out in their classrooms. Next year another group of teachers will be brought on to implement personalized learning and mentor under those trying it this year.

Who Needs a Cape When You Have an Apron?

Welcome Jarrett J. Krosoczka to Book Life! New York Times best-selling author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka, whose more than 30 published works include fabulous picture books, his wildly popular Lunch Lady graphic novels, and the Platypus Police Squad middle-grade novels, is also the creator of School Lunch Hero Day.

Organizing Schools Around Learning

People who haven’t hung around schools much might be puzzled by the essential argument that I am making in my new book, Schools That Succeed, which is that schools should be organized in ways to ensure that all students learn a great deal. They might think: “They’re schools! What else would they be organized around?”

Libraries Build Community: One School’s Memorable Project

It is wonderful to see creativity rewarded, especially when they will likely have a lasting impact. One such project was done with young children enrolled in the Jewish Primary Day School.

It was called the NC South Campus Community Library Project and started at the beginning of the school year.

I asked Janet Collier — who serves as the school’s General Studies 2-5 Instruction Leader and as the librarian — to write about this yearlong project and its results.

Books Beyond February

February is ending but that doesn’t mean the celebration of African American history should. After all, good books are good year round.

Plus, there’s evidence that sharing stories with children builds empathy. (Though the study’s focus was on fiction, I think that well-presented nonfiction for young children is equally powerful.)

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"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader." — Margaret Fuller