Blogs About Reading

Shanahan on Literacy

Timothy Shanahan

Literacy expert Timothy Shanahan shares best practices for teaching reading and writing. Dr. Shanahan is an internationally recognized professor of urban education and reading researcher who has extensive experience with children in inner-city schools and children with special needs. All posts are reprinted with permission from Shanahan on Literacy.

October 21, 2019

Teacher question: I know phonics should be taught explicitly and we have looked through several sources to determine the patterns to teach in first grade. I have been pouring through leveled texts and have found a high concentration of blends, digraphs, long vowel/silent 'e', and predictable vowel teams in text as low as levels 4 and 6.

October 7, 2019

Teacher question: What does it mean that something has research support? I’ve been a teacher for years and I’ve taught hundreds of children to read. Now I’m being told that in our district we are expected to teach in some new way that has research behind it. I like how I teach reading and I don’t want to change. Why should I?

September 30, 2019

Teacher question: What’s the best way to teach and have students master vocabulary? Shanahan's response: My original reaction to this question was not exactly what I’d label a model of helpfulness.

September 23, 2019

Teacher question: I saw you make a presentation recently, and I was surprised to hear that you did not like the conferencing that is provided in Readers Workshop. That is the method that our district requires. Isn’t it research-based? Shanahan's response: No, it definitely is not research based.

September 17, 2019

Teacher question: I saw you speak recently and in your definition of reading comprehension you used the term “affordance.” How would you define affordance as you use it concerning text?   Shanahan's response: Usually, I’d just shoot off a quick email explanation with a question like this.

September 10, 2019

Teacher question: What are your thoughts on standards-based grading in ELA which is used in many districts? For example, teachers may be required to assign a number 1-4 (4 being "mastery") that indicates a student’s proficiency level on each ELA standard. Teachers need to provide evidence to document how they determined the level of mastery.

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Reading intervention specialist working one-on-one with an elementary student struggling readers

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"I feel the need of reading. It is a loss to a man not to have grown up among books." —

Abraham Lincoln