Early literacy development

September 10, 2018

Teacher question:

I attended one of your recent presentations. You cited the Hart & Risley canard that there is a 30 million word gap. Aren’t you aware that study has been rejected? There is no word gap. Kids living in poverty have as much language support as other kids.

Shanahan response:

Research can get things wrong.

...

August 1, 2018

Teacher question: 

Should we teach letter names or letter sounds to beginning readers?

Shanahan's response:

Twice recently teachers have asked this question. In both instances they said they’d been told teaching letter names confused children and that “best practice” was to focus on the sounds rather than the letter names....

March 13, 2018

Teacher question:

What are your thoughts about writing in Kindergarten? Is there a scientifically-researched instructional methodology that we should implement. We’ve been trying to embed writing opportunities within the literacy block related to the whole group listening comprehension text. Should students draw in relation to the prompt or question and then label...

February 21, 2018

Teacher question:

What are your thoughts about writing in kindergarten? Is there a scientifically-researched instructional methodology that we should implement. We’ve been trying to embed writing opportunities within the literacy block related to the whole group listening comprehension text. Should students draw in relation to the prompt or question and then label...

September 14, 2017

Our world continues to grow increasingly complex. We all want our children to succeed, but what exactly does that mean? 

Is it introducing academics earlier and earlier? How do we assure a child’s healthy social/emotional growth? Can we help young children live with others who have different backgrounds than their own? Might this imply that children have the ability to put themselves in...

April 26, 2017

Teacher question:

I am preschool teacher and I would like to know how I can implement a sight word program with 4 year old students. I have tried my best to implement at least three but I feel my strategies are not working. I am trying to do a program to help preschoolers to be ready when they go to kindergarten.

 Shanahan's...

April 2, 2017

Great report about beginning reading achievement in the most recent issue of Educational Researcher (Literacy Achievement Trends at Entry to First Grade). D’Agostino and Rodgers show that, beginning literacy skills have improved annually from 2002 through 2013. Beginning first-graders have...

November 29, 2016

Letter to Shanahan:   Our school is in review which means that we have to improve reading test performance — or else. We are doing some crazy things with test preparation (that I know you disagree with), but we have also been ordered to put a big emphasis on reading homework. I’ve never been a big fan of homework because not all the kids do it and that doesn’t seem fair....

August 15, 2016

When I was 18 years old, I was a volunteer tutor in an inner-city school. I wasn’t an education major — that came later — but I was intent on saving the world. I was excited about the idea of going into the city and working with elementary school kids who were growing up in poverty.

April 15, 2016

Want an abundance of apps including assistive technology to enrich learning skills for children from birth to age 8? They are flowing this week. Here's why!

Lots of learning

"The annual Week of the Young Child (WYOC) celebration from April 10-16, sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), focuses on the importance of an accessible, affordable...

March 28, 2016

Teacher question: I read a research study (Kilpatrick, 2014) that questions the value of segmentation tests for measuring phonemic awareness, because such tests did not correlate well with first- and second-grade reading achievement. At our school we have used DIBELS in Kindergarten and Grade 1 to identify children at risk for reading difficulties. Is this really useful or are we...

November 19, 2015

As regular readers know, this is the time of the year that I identify charities that try to help improve children's literacy and language and to make books available to kids. Readers of my blog obviously care about whether kids can read and why not make that cause part of your charitable gifting as well.

November 3, 2015

Teacher question: Our kindergarten is using a reading program that has some wonderful lessons. However, we also feel that the pacing doesn't match current expectations for kindergarten students. For example, the program doesn't introduce high frequency words until December and it only teaches 25 words for the entire year. The first lesson for teaching letter names doesn't...

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...

October 6, 2015

Here we go again.

Last week, Dale Farran and a team of researchers at the University of Tennessee concluded that preschool education gets kids off to a great academic start, but by the end of kindergarten the results start to wear off. And, by the end of second grade you can’t even tell that the kids had attended preschool or not.

That suggests that preschool education is a lousy...

September 9, 2015

Parents often ask how they can help their children learn to read; and it’s no wonder that they’re interested in this essential skill. Reading plays an important role in later school success. One study even demonstrates that how well 7-year-olds read predicts their income 35 years later!

Here are 11...

August 27, 2015

Teacher question:

I am confused. You claim that independent reading has almost no benefit, but another article I just read says, "In one of the most extensive studies of independent reading yet conducted, Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding (1988) investigated a broad array of activities and their relationship to reading achievement and growth in reading. They found that...

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 13, 2015

The Connecticut Council for School Reform asked me to speak in Hartford, on April 9, 2015. My presentation reviewed and responded to some of the complaints or concerns about teaching young children to read, and considered several issues in expanding preschool literacy opportunities. My presentation was based largely on the Report of the National Early Literacy Panel and a handful of other...

October 20, 2014

Lots of interest, all of a sudden, in full-day kindergarten … I’ve had several questions about that scheme during the past few days. I’m not sure why, but it is well worth discussing yet again.

What I’ve been asked has varied, but it always seems to come back to, “Is full-day kindergarten better than half-day kindergarten?” I get why that is being asked, and I’m too polite to sneer...

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"I feel the need of reading. It is a loss to a man not to have grown up among books." —

Abraham Lincoln