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.

April 14, 2022

Teacher question: I would love to see a blog post on whether to teach sight words/high-frequency words, and if there is any useful reason to track whether a student is learning them. My teachers are still teaching them in K and 1st, but more through reading and spelling them, decoding, and encoding them, in and out of text, and not by memorizing their shape.

March 4, 2022

Teacher Question: I’m surprised that you don’t write about screening and monitoring tests. I’ve been a teacher for 24 years (first-grade) and I’m considering an early retirement. It seems like I’m supposed to test my students more than teach them. We just test and get ready for tests. I feel so sorry for the boys and girls. I want to teach reading, not FSF, ISF, PSF.

February 18, 2022

Teacher question: Why don’t you like independent reading? It only makes sense for students to practice reading if they’re going to get good at it. My students live in poverty. They won’t read at home, so I provide 20 minutes a day for them to just read. Practice makes perfect, you know. Shanahan's response:

February 8, 2022

Teacher question: I keep hearing about the science of reading and that I need to teach phonics (I’m a second-grade teacher). I’m okay with that but there is a lot to teach in reading. How much of the time should I spend teaching phonics? Shanahan’s response:

January 16, 2022

Teacher question: Could you tell us how to teach “executive function skills”? We don’t teach them at our school, and our core program doesn’t emphasize them. However, the graduate program I’m in says they are important. Our school district emphasizes the reading rope, and it doesn’t even mention executive function.

January 10, 2022

Teacher question: What can you tell me about writing fluency in grades K-5? Our district is making a major effort to improve writing which is great, but our kids don’t write much. I don’t mean that the teachers don’t give writing assignments (they do), but the writing that the kids produce is very limited and it takes them a long time.

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

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"If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book." —

J.K. Rowling