School-wide efforts

My teacher gives more homework

Do you ever hear this complaint? Kids know which teacher gives the most homework AND which teacher gives almost no homework at all. I think there are two issues here: how much homework is good? And should teachers at the same grade level give the same amount of homework?

Revisiting silent reading

Those of us familiar with the 2000 National Reading Panel report remember that the report did not support teachers' use of silent reading in the classroom. The research evidence that it had any effect on reading achievement just wasn't there. Some school districts and teachers greatly reduced or stopped providing time during the instructional day for silent reading. Other teachers continued to provide daily DEAR or SSR time, citing the benefits of such a practice.

Estar aqui, estar listo

I had the good fortune to spend a few days in a classroom outside of Chicago. I spent lots of time watching one of those teachers you just hope your child gets. You'll get a chance to see Cathy in action when we add our clips to the classroom strategies section of our website. Until then, trust me when I say that this is a teacher who has created and nurtured a real community of learners.

Two ideas worth spreading

Ideas worth spreading is the tagline for TED, a website that provides "riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world." If you are not familiar with the TED site, you should go visit it! I've watched some truly amazing talks on there, ones that I think about for days afterward. Here are two new talks I watched recently that have really stayed with me.

Arriving late to the Read Aloud party

Who knew March 9 was World Read Aloud Day? I'm sure lots of people did, but sadly I didn't until very late at night on March 9. And besides the directions on the box of brownie mix, I'm pretty sure I didn't read anything aloud to my girls that day. As our girls get older, I'm finding it harder and harder to find that family read aloud time. Soccer schedules, Destination Imagination (DI) practice, and playdates all result in one rushed (and tired!) dinner — shower — bed routine. On top of that, both girls are highly engaged in their own reading these days.

Kindergarten Camp

ants on a log

Moms and Dads walked in, clutching the hand of a 5 or 6 year old who anxiously looked around the lobby. Nervous chatter, excited whispers, reassuring pats on the back, and a few tears. "Let's find your nametag!" Today was the first day of kindergarten camp at our school, a week designed to let our incoming kindergartners "kick the tires" on their new school.

School size matters

The elementary school my girls go to recently underwent a huge renovation to accommodate predicted growth in our area. In addition to the growth, about 100 kids are being redistricted to our school because the other local school is overcrowded. Our school will be opening with over 500 kids this fall, a much larger population than we've had in the past.

Year round school: What do you think?

I read with interest this story from the Washington Post that describes one family's experience with year round school.

As a Mom who juggles work and young kids, the transition to summer for my family is nothing short of absolutely chaotic. My house has become nothing but bags (one for camp, one for swim team, one for bug spray and sunscreen, etc) and wet towels from the pool. We've been out of school since June 5 and we've yet to find our summer groove.

Strong intervention outcomes: what does it take?

Summertime always gives me a chance to reread some of the articles and reports that I can only skim through during busier times. This week, I revisited Teaching All Students to Read: Practices from Reading First Schools with Strong Intervention Outcomes from the Florida Center for Reading Research.

What's it take to get strong outcomes from your work with at risk readers? This report details seven common traits across the schools:

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 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!


"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase