Common Core standards

November 26, 2018

Teacher question: Last week, I read your blog about how to teach theme to students by having them track character changes across a story and determine what lesson the character learns to determine the overall theme. Can you offer advice on determining the main idea of an informational text? Specifically, for third grade, students must determine the main idea, recount the...

September 17, 2018

Teacher question: I don’t get the reason for trying to make students read “like historians” or read “like scientists.” Many of my students aren’t likely to even go to college and even if they did they probably won’t be historians or scientists. I understand why it makes sense to teach students how to study a history or a science textbook so they can pass the tests on those...

July 19, 2018

Back in the 1930s, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney always seemed to be putting on a show. They were going to be sent to a farm to work for the summer in Babes in Arms, but they wanted to go to Broadway instead — and they did!

I love that whole idea of Judy and Mickey with their teenage backs to the wall,...

July 5, 2018

Teacher question:

I’ve collected some data on first-grade writing. I developed a plan for getting 6-year-olds to write arguments and I have a rubric designed to allow me to figure out how well my supports help them to write effective arguments (evaluating whether they took a clear position on the topic, and how much evidence they used). I tried it out and gave the...

June 28, 2018

Teacher question:

My question is about disciplinary literacy. Should we be guiding teachers to integrate social studies or science and ELA or having our ELA teachers teaching disciplinary literacy for these subjects? Our curriculum focuses on overarching concepts and essential questions.

Shanahan's response:

You raise two...

February 1, 2018

Question:

I came across your article Informational Text: Or How Thin Can You Slice the Salami and wanted to reach out to you. I'm analytical and I work with other analytical thinkers. But I am also surrounded by reading specialists, literacy coaches, etc. who think differently. When I visit schools, I observe students who are analytical. They're...

January 17, 2018

This posting responds to some public comments made by various colleagues concerning complex text and its use in instruction (see related post, What's the Difference Between Close Reading and Teaching Complex Text?). My comments are responses to their handwringing...

November 16, 2017

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) began testing fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-graders in 1970 to find out how well American kids could read. NAEP was to evaluate national reading performance twice a decade. The idea wasn’t to provide an estimate of how well each child could read, but simply to index the level of American literacy. In fact, back then NAEP wasn’t even...

August 27, 2017

Teacher question:My district has moved into an approach of asking teachers to locate materials for standards-based instruction. They have opted to create assessments to isolate individual standards to teach/test each standard individually. Each assessment is named by reading standard and is associated with grade-level English Language Arts courses. What thoughts do you...

August 9, 2017

About the queries:

Twice in the past couple of weeks I’ve heard about an article that directly challenges ideas I’ve published on Disciplinary Literacy (Dunkerly-Bean, J., & Bean, T. (2016). Missing the savoir for the connaissance: Disciplinary and content area reading as regimes of truth. Journal of Literacy Research, 48(4), 448-476.) My first contact on...

June 1, 2017

Welcome Colleen Dykema to Book Life! Colleen is an award-winning ESL teacher and reading specialist with Arlington Public Schools. Her teaching career began in 1972, and since 2000 she’s worked with English language learners at Swanson Middle School. A great believer that “reading...

March 16, 2017

A slew of letters seeking ideas on disciplinary literacy: Teacher 1: The Common Core highlights that every teacher is a reading and writing teacher in their discipline. I think this idea is important in combination with the best practices for content area learning. My main interest in this is based on helping students who struggle to learn to read in early grade levels,...

February 8, 2017

Boy, oh, boy! The past couple weeks have brought unseasonably warm temperatures to the Midwest, and unusual flurries of questions concerning teaching children at their, so-called, “instructional levels.” Must be salesman season, or something.

January 30, 2017

In my last entry, I explored some ideas concerning what role authors play in our interpretation of text. As with many controversies in the garden of literary criticism, nothing is settled, but an exquisite tension has been created. It is this tension that mature readers need to...

January 25, 2017

It all started with a question. What was their story? Author Linda Barrett Osborne wanted to find out more about her great grandparents who came from Italy in the 1880s and 1890s to the United States — much like the English who settled in Jamestown, Virginia, in the 17th century.

What she found was that America offered hope to people seeking a better life through economic and...

January 25, 2017

I’m often asked if the questions I publish here are “real.” That is, do teachers, really ask me these things? The questions definitely are real. Though they come to me in a variety of ways.

September 6, 2016

Teacher Question: My district is currently "grappling" with the idea of asking students to read complex text if they are significantly below the grade level. As an example, within one fourth grade class, a teacher identified that more than half her class is 1-2 grade levels below the expectation for reading (using multiple measures). Her response is to change the level of the...

September 2, 2016

Teacher question:   I am now a literacy specialist in a middle school and am hoping you can give me your opinion on the process of the guided reading method of reading instruction. I completely agree with you that the F&P levels are ludicrously low and it would be difficult to transition students to the end goal of CCSS using these levels...

August 4, 2016

Reader question: We just started close reading in our district last year. Our second graders were given text that was a grade level above their reading level. We were told to let them figure it out. They could not even read the first sentence it was too hard for their reading level. The reading coaches said they will learn to read it by letting them struggle with it. The...

June 28, 2016

The Smithsonian's Learning Lab team members are in Denver, Colorado this week for the 2016 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference. Staff members traveled to unveil more than one million digital resources that students can use to discover, create, and share.

Educators and students who are into maker spaces, project-based learning, and Universal...

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"Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won't have as much censorship because we won't have as much fear." —

Judy Blume