About reading

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

Teacher question:

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

Reader Question:

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?

This long-standing...

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...

November 7, 2012

Important professional books — you know, the sort you need to have close at hand, come along every once in a while. We've gathered many of those titles in our Research by Topic section. Look for those listed under Foundational Research. There you'll find the citations for important work such as Chall's Learning...

November 22, 2011

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that one blog in my RSS feed is written by Lisa Belkin. Belkin's blog, Parentlode, can be found in the Huffington Post. Many of Belkin's posts speak to me on a personal level, and some circle into my...

September 16, 2011

Congratulations to Patricia Raina, from Suisun Valley K-8 School in Fairfield, California! Ms. Raina was one of three teachers from across the nation selected as winners of an NBC Education Nation essay contest.

Her idea? A new reality show: Kindergarten Teacher. Ms. Raina's essay is cleverly written in the form of "rounds" Contestants try to move from round to round, although certain...

August 2, 2011

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...

November 5, 2008

As I write this blog on Wednesday morning after our historic presidential election, I'm struck by an article I read on msnbc.com. 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...

January 9, 2008

Working with struggling readers is darn hard work. Progress is slow, and it takes an enormous amount of effort. Really concerted, dedicated, sustained effort. The students I work with usually make me want to bang my head against a wall out of frustration and leap across the room for joy, and that's within a 45 minute tutoring session!

The ...

November 7, 2007

I once heard Connie Juel, a prominent researcher in early reading, describe an interview with a struggling fourth-grade student. Connie had spent four years following a group of students who, in first grade, had been identified as at risk. She was wrapping up her longitudinal study, asking them how they felt about reading. "Reading?" one boy said. "I hate it. I'd rather clean a bathtub."

...

July 24, 2007

I'm often asked what the best sequence is for teaching letter sounds. From the work done by the National Reading Panel, we know that systematic and explicit phonics programs teach children letter–sound relationships directly in a well-defined and predetermined sequence.

Most systematic phonics programs sequence phonics generalizations from least difficult to more difficult. Even still...

Pages

"When I say to a parent, "read to a child", I don't want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate. " — Mem Fox