Comprehension

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 24, 2014

Last week, I focused on a controversy over prior knowledge. Common core has discouraged enhancing reading comprehension through the introduction of information external to a text.

That challenges the most popular ways of introducing texts in schools — such as telling students information about the text topic or exploring student knowledge relevant to the topic. CCSS proponents bridle at...

November 13, 2014

Spoiler alert: This blog entry is a two-parter. The first part (today’s entry) describes a problem to which the second entry will offer some nifty practical solutions (nope, no practical solutions today).

October 29, 2014

Is oral or silent reading more important in middle school?

We live in a time when silent reading ability will probably buy you more than oral reading skills. There definitely are radio and television announcers who have to read scripts well, but most of us don’t have those duties. However, that doesn’t mean oral reading is without value — especially for kids who are 11-, 12-, or 13-...

October 16, 2014

The term "guided reading" is causing a lot of confusion. Most of us now use it as shorthand to refer to those instructional procedures recommended by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell in their book, Guided Reading (1996).

The problem with that conception of the term "guided reading" is that it actually conglomerates three separate aspects of instruction into one idea. And, that’s where...

October 16, 2014

Challenge assumptions. We all should.

I started thinking about the various assumptions held when author Valerie Tripp gave a memorable and thought provoking lecture, the Anne Scott MacLeod Children’s Literature Lecture, at the Library of Congress last week entitled, “Challenging Assumptions.”

(This biannual lecture was cosponsored by the...

October 7, 2014

Last week I replied to some of the remarks about text complexity that were made on the Valerie Strauss’s Washington Post column. Here are a couple more.

CommentFountas and Pinnell are stating...

September 28, 2014

Last week, Valerie Strauss devoted her Washington Post space to an article challenging the idea of teaching with challenging text, including my articles. The posting got lots of response showing fundamental...

September 15, 2014

Q: While I understand the purpose of close-reading I don't understand why you should take the time to read deeper into a document. Some things were written simply and what we now interpret as a symbol, may not have been intended to be a symbol. How can we as readers determine what is meant to be read into and what is to be left alone?

Another thing that was...

September 22, 2014

Although the Ingalls family only lived in Walnut Grove for three years (on two different occasions — 1874–1876 and 1878–1879), the town has a strong connection to Laura and the Little House books because of its prominence in the TV series “Little House on the Prairie.” As we drove into the center of town, signs connecting the location to Laura abound, announcing “Walnut Grove, Childhood Home...

September 26, 2014

What’s the difference between participating and witnessing? And what does this have to do with books and children?

I had lunch with some longtime friends today and as we walked out together, my friend was telling me how she shared books with a group of children, the same group she had the opportunity to observe as they saw the same story read on a “smart board.”

When she read...

January 7, 2014

Is there a relationship between grammar and reading comprehension? Yes, says Timothy Shanahan on Shanahan on Literacy. In summarizing the research, Shanahan suggests "as students learn to...

October 17, 2013

There's real value in spending instructional time helping kids decipher the information found in graphic form. Textbooks, nonfiction books, and magazines are chock full of diagrams, tables, charts, and graphs. Visual information used to be limited to bold words and captioned pictures, but nowadays infographics, maps, and interactive tools carry a lot of the content weight within a piece of...

May 1, 2013

I just LOVE teaching poetry! I try diligently to incorporate it throughout the year at various times for general exposure, and specifically to help my kiddos see that our reading strategies can be used across a wide variety of texts. The writers of the Common Core started including poetry in the majority of the reading standards, so students would have many opportunities to read, decipher and...

March 11, 2013

Wordless picture books are books are told entirely through their illustrations — they are books without words, or sometimes just a few words. Sharing wordless books at home or at school gives us a chance to develop so many important literacy skills: listening, speaking, storytelling, vocabulary, comprehension, story structure, inference, cause and effect … the list goes on and on!

When...

February 21, 2013

We know them. We LOVE them. Our kiddos who fall just below that bar — the bar that the Common Core is challenging us to raise, day after day. I wholeheartedly believe that the Common Core is creating a climate of collaborative, critical thinkers that are raising the bar for THEMSELVES. But we still have our Tier II and Tier III punkins who need an extra boost.

Research is showing that...

January 18, 2013

Flipped classrooms are a hot topic right now. In case it's a new term for you, here's a brief description. A flipped classroom flips, or reverses, traditional teaching methods. Traditionally, the teacher talks about a topic at school and assigns homework that reinforces that day's material. In a flipped classroom, the instruction is delivered online, outside of class. Video lectures may be...

January 8, 2013

Thoughtful. Careful. Precise. These are the words that should define our students as they provide evidence that supports text-dependent questions. Part 2 of our focus on evidence-based questions takes us into the world of informational text. It tends to be easier for students to find evidence to support their answers within informational text. However, where we sometimes fall...

December 5, 2012

Some of my teacher friends are nervous about the call within the Common Core State Standards for more informational texts in the classroom. Couple informational texts with recommendations to have students read widely and deeply from increasingly challenging texts, and I've got a couple of worried friends!

There's nothing quite like working with a group of students with a text that is (1...

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