Comprehension

April 2, 2018

Last week I explained the concept of “independent reading.” Reviewing various documents from across the past 150 years — research studies, government reports, encyclopedia entries, pronouncements of august organizations, teacher blogs, methods guides — revealed that we educators have been pretty sloppy in our use of that term.

Of course, if everybody says independent reading, but no...

March 26, 2018

Recently I posted a tweet challenging the idea that “independent reading” in the classroom was such a good idea. Not surprisingly I found myself the target of all kinds of Trumpian tweets and vilification. It got so bad that multiple major proponents of encouraging reading contacted me in embarrassment over the responses (because some of it was unprofessional, and much of it was just badly...

March 6, 2018

Teacher question:

Can you explain the difference between central idea, main idea, and theme? There appears to be a lot of confusions with these terms. 

Shanahan’s response:

You’re correct. There is much confusion and disparity in use of the terms central idea, main idea, and theme. And please add topic...

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...

January 3, 2018

Teacher question

Aren’t “teaching with complex text” and “teaching close reading” really the same idea, just in different words? Some of my teachers are confused by these terms. Some of them, like me, think they are the same idea, while others think they are really two different standards. How can I clarify this for them?

Shanahan's response

I must admit that the first time...

December 14, 2017

Teacher question:

I was wondering if you are able to provide me with a clearer understanding of what a “silent reading and listening capacity test” is all about. 

Shanahan's response:

The whole idea of administering silent reading and listening capacity tests is two-fold. A silent reading test would be used to determine how well...

December 4, 2017

Acting stories out is a brilliant way to get to the heart of what children are reading. And not only does story dramatization have positive effects on language development and student achievement, it is an absolute blast. Wren and her Namma, Jan Worthington, take us behind the scenes of their recent page to stage adventure.

Dr. Janet Worthington is a retired dean and professor who...

December 1, 2017

Teacher question:

I'm a UK teacher; we use read-along here a lot (the teacher or pupils read a text to the whole class while the other pupils follow in their own text). There is a growing concern that this is ineffective for several reasons. Chief at the moment is that reading and listening simultaneously has a higher cognitive load than either independent...

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...

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...

October 30, 2017

Teacher question

I’m a regular reader and it seems to me that you undervalue activities like Reader’s Workshop and what it can do for children. Letting them pick their own books is great for their motivation and this isn’t like free reading, independent reading, or SSR because I meet with them regularly, one-on-one, to talk about what they are reading. There is...

October 30, 2017

Getting students to watch what their minds are doing when they read helps them discover what good readers do. Educator Sally Donnelly calls this “spying on your reading.” She learned how to spy on herself as a reader by reading Mosaic of Thought: Teaching...

September 12, 2017

Last week, I pointed out that research had found few interactions in literacy learning. That is, research hasn't actually uncovered many situations in which different kinds of kids learn differently — despite many claims to the contrary.

The idea that research...

August 22, 2017

Teacher question:

I coordinate reading interventions for my district. I have been told to stop referring to the National Reading Panel, as it is old and no longer relevant. Our universal screener is based on the 5 components of reading, and our basal interventions are also aligned to the "big 5". I don't think there is any way for me to stop referencing the NRP....

August 4, 2017

We’re in the dog days of summer. Not many questions coming in right now — normal for periods when schools aren’t in session. But the following query came to me this week from Ireland via Twitter.

Teacher question:

Any link to how the Repeated Reading strategy works? How long text can be repeated, how long can text be, depends on accuracy?...

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...

June 22, 2017

Teacher question:

E.D. Hirsch makes a compelling argument for the systematic teaching of essential knowledge in elementary school as the best way to close the achievement gap. Daisy Daidalou in her book, Seven Myths of Education, ...

June 15, 2017

Teacher question:

Teachers in grades 3, 4 and 5 spend weeks and weeks (like 5-6) reading aloud chapter books to their students. In some classrooms, students have a copy of the book.  Is there research that speaks to the effectiveness of a read-aloud over a period of time?

Does student interest wane...

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"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