November 29, 2016
October 11, 2016
September 27, 2016
Usually these blog entries are replies to educators questions. Recently Doug Lemov interviewed me about reading instruction and posted it on his blog. We got into issues like reading strategy instruction, vocabulary assessment, close reading, and guided reading. Many of you know Doug's books, Teach Like a Champion and Reading Revisited. I was honored to talk to him and this will...
September 16, 2016
August 15, 2016
When I was 18 years old, I was a volunteer tutor in an inner-city school. I wasn’t an education major — that came later — but I was intent on saving the world. I was excited about the idea of going into the city and working with elementary school kids who were growing up in poverty.
August 8, 2016
July 5, 2016
May 24, 2016
February 29, 2016
I was making a presentation about how to raise reading achievement. I was taking my audience through research on what needed to be taught and how it needed to be taught if kids were to do as well as possible. I was telling about my experiences as director of reading of the Chicago Public Schools at a time when my teachers raised reading achievement.
When I finished, a teacher approached...
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.
October 19, 2015
Our school district is going wild over Lexiles because they are in the Common Core standards. I think they are overdoing it and don’t feel comfortable with some of the decisions that we are making. What are the weaknesses of Lexiles?
First, Lexiles is only one of several readability measures included in the CCSS. They started with that...
October 13, 2015
The Atlantic just published an article about the mistake American educators make by teaching reading in kindergarten. Shouldn’t we do what the Finns do: let kids learn to read when they want to and end up with...
September 30, 2015
Question from a teacher:
Our preK-5 school has a number of struggling readers, and we were told yesterday that we should focus only on fluency and accuracy, not comprehension or vocabulary. We were also told that we really shouldn't be using our grade level reading materials or complex texts in the classroom until students are fluent and accurate. I'd love to hear...
September 24, 2015
Today I was talking to a group of educators from several states. The focus was on adolescent literacy. We were discussing the fact that various programs, initiatives, and documents — all supposedly research-based efforts — were promoting the idea that teachers should collect formative assessment data.
I pointed out that there wasn’t any evidence that it actually works at improving...
July 2, 2015
From a reader:
Every teacher has experienced this. While the majority of the class is thriving with your carefully planned, research supported instructional methods, there is often one kid that is significantly less successful. We work with them individually in class, help them after school, sometimes change things up to see what will work, bring them to the...
April 16, 2015
Our district is wrestling with how much emphasis to give rhyming as an early literacy skill. We had previously downplayed rhyming as a necessary focus but the new CA ELA/ELD Framework and CCSS where rhyming is specifically called out has resurfaced old questions.
Our struggle is this .... with our very high (87%) English Learner population, rhyming is one of the later...
April 6, 2015
I have recently encountered some severe criticism leveled at reviews and reviewers from What Works Clearinghouse (for example, this from the National Institute for Direct Instruction). I am concerned about recommending this site to teachers as a resource for program evaluations. I'm wondering...
December 1, 2014
Years ago, when the National Reading Panel (NRP) report came out, Congress tried to impose a national literacy sequence on American schools. Their plan only allowed phonemic awareness instruction until kids could fully segment words. Then the law would let us teach phonics… but no fluency until the word sounding was completed. Eventually we’d even get to comprehension — at least for the most...
November 25, 2014
In a recent workshop I attended, the following comment was made:
"A child cannot read and comprehend at a level higher than they can listen and comprehend. A deficit in listening comprehension predicts a deficit in reading comprehension." Could you explain this correlation further or refer me to professional reading material that would expound on this topic?
November 4, 2014
Want to win an argument about literacy? Just claim your approach is “balanced.”
Balanced is a affirmative term. That’s why Fox-News claims to be “fair and balanced.” It not only makes your position sound reasonable, but implies your opponents may be a bit off, you know, imbalanced.
So it is not too surprising that school principals and district literacy leaders often...