Brain & learning

November 20, 2019

Teacher question: Some of my ELA teachers have been talking about dyslexia fonts lately. Is there any merit to this?

Shanahan's response:

This question takes me back to graduate school. I was fascinated with print and its impact on reading.

That led me to study the work of a psychologist named Miles Tinker. He published scads of...

October 10, 2018

Teacher question:

Do we read digitally as well as we read paper texts? 

Shanahan's response:

I’ve been asked this provocative question three times in three weeks. Once I was presenting a workshop on how to teach college-bound high-schoolers to handle complex text on tests like the ACT. This group wanted to know if it mattered...

November 15, 2017

Teacher question:

 A colleague asked me about using e-books in high school science classes instead of textbooks. I like the idea that e-books might be more current and kids would likely read outside of class if they didn’t have to lug a huge book home. However, I remember reading something about the brain processing the reading of e-books differently than...

September 6, 2017

Someone put a bug in my ear, and I started writing, and by the time I was done, I had two blogs rather than one. I'll set the table with this one, and bring it to conclusion next time.

One of the best things about research is that it can let the wind out of windbags and force some hard thinking. Our field suffers fatuous pronouncements as much as any. An example?

How about the...

July 31, 2017

Summer can provide the time to read that lots of kids need to strengthen skills. But summer also offers other warm-weather distractions that have more kid appeal than books.

William Weil, Co-Founder and CEO of Tales2go, an award-winning kids' mobile audiobook service, shares his ideas for building reading comprehension skills...

July 10, 2017

A few months ago, I read Mark Seidenberg’s Language at the Speed of Sight. Seidenberg is a psychologist who studies reading, and his book is remarkably intelligent, frank, and witty. I think there is an occasional mistake or ambiguity here and there, but overall I was mesmerized.

Typically...

May 28, 2017

Teacher question:

What makes good readers? What are kids lacking making them not so good readers?

Shanahan's response:

I love this question because it cuts to the heart of everything we do. If teachers don’t have clear purchase on what it takes to become a good reader, and what some kids might be...

December 1, 2016

Guest post by Ian Moore, AIM-VA

Have you ever tried to read a phone number that was written as a single stream of text and struggled to retain the information or even quickly comprehend it? As an example, my phone number at AIM-VA training and technical assistance is: 17039935578.

How quickly could you read that number? Would you...

October 24, 2016

Guest post by Stacie Brady, AIM-VA

October is Learning Disabilities (LD) Awareness Month, which means it is time to recognize individuals with learning disabilities and the educators who support learning differences. Since 1985, this month is used by organizations such as the...

October 17, 2016

A well-designed summer program can help low-income students read and do math better. In fact, attending a summer program regularly for as little as five weeks for two years in a row could result in about a quarter of a year’s gain in both reading and math for students from low-income families.

That is the rather surprising finding of...

December 18, 2014

When our son was young, a special holiday treat was an outing to see a live performance. Theater, dance, symphony — we tried it all. And during his time off from school, we’d visit art museums all over town. It certainly had an impact on our son but far too many children don’t have easy access to the arts or arts programs for any number of reasons.

So let’s integrate the arts into a...

July 8, 2013

A recent study in the journal Child Development suggests a link between students living in poverty and poor planning skills that extends into several academic areas, including math and reading. Using scores from a strategic puzzle-based task that requires advance planning and tactical moves, researchers found that scores on the planning task in Grade 3 predicted children's reading and math...

March 26, 2013

Parents know the value of a good bedtime routine. Dinner, bath, books and bed was the routine around here for years and years, and for the most part, our girls went to bed and fell right to sleep. But as kids get older, electronics and television seem to find their way into kids' hands closer and closer to bedtime. These habits, unfortunately, can make it harder for kids to fall asleep,...

October 10, 2012

I have a good friend with a 7 month old daughter. Through his video clips on Facebook, I have watched E react to new toys, try all sorts of new foods, and learn to sit up. Around our house, we're way past soft foods and teethers, so I watch with joy as E happily gums spoonfuls of bananas and sweet potato. But every time I watch, I'm struck by the silence. There are no adult sounds, just the...

November 1, 2011

Chance favors the connected mind. So says Steven Johnson, best-selling author of books on the intersection of science, technology and personal experience. Johnson has spent lots of time answering questions such as: what types of spaces lead to creativity and innovation? He describes how many great ideas don't come from a big eureka! Most come from ideas that have percolated or marinated within...

August 31, 2011

The concept of learning styles has been around for a long time. Intuitively, the notion of learning styles makes sense, especially for those who work with struggling readers. Some kids seem to respond better to visual information, others to auditory, and still others to tactile information. Following this train of thought, teachers should present information in a style that is matched to a...

March 14, 2011

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...

March 2, 2011

If you see the words brain-based, run. That's the advice from David Daniel, a researcher at James Madison University. And it's not just Daniel that feels that way. His viewpoint supported by cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham at UVA and...

September 8, 2010

Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits is a timely reminder about a few techniques that can reliably improve how much a student learns from studying. Techniques include alternating study environments, spacing study sessions, self testing, and mixing content....

June 17, 2008

Don't you love when you finally have a moment to read something that's been on your desk for two months? I had that experience today when I finally read The Reading Leader from the Haskins Literacy Initiative.

Haskins does remarkable...

"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." — Kate DiCamillo