Parent engagement

December 6, 2016

We live in a noisy world. Where can silence be found? Does it even exist anymore? What do we lose without a bit of quiet?

We frequently create our own noise: we plug into ear buds, headphones or other devices; talk with unseen companions walking down the street. And radios or televisions are virtually ubiquitous. We even plug in children to a game on a computer or tablet or smartphone...

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 30, 2016

This summer we traveled to France for a friend’s wedding and the Tour de France. It was a trip that included a long road trip with multiple stops. I thought a fun way to get the kids excited about the trip would be a map exercise: creating a visual itinerary to help the kids understand where we were going and what we’d be seeing.

It gave us an excuse to check out some books...

August 11, 2016

When you ask my daughter Addie what she wants to be when she grows up, she’ll say a number of things, one of which is wanting to be an architect. When you ask her why she wants to be an architect, she’ll tell you that buildings come in all sorts of interesting shapes and designs. She may also mention that it’d be fun to build dollhouses.

I wanted to help her explore the world...

August 9, 2016

Last month I read an article about Clip-Air, a concept for a new modular aircraft. Clip-Air would separate the wings from the fuselage so that body of the plane could be loaded with passengers or cargo anywhere — like a bus station or train depot — and then driven to the wings for takeoff. Even more cool is that up...

July 5, 2016

We in education tend to have very strong beliefs. And, those beliefs can overwhelm our knowledge — or even our willingness to gain knowledge.   Last week’s entry here focused on teaching kids with more challenging texts than we’ve been told to use in the past. The reason for the change wasn’t some brilliant insight on my part, but a gradual accumulation of direct research evidence. Evidence...

May 24, 2016

Teacher question: I have just been hired as a reading coach in a school where I have been a third-grade teacher. My principal wants me to raise reading achievement and he says that he’ll follow my lead. I think I’m a good teacher, but what does it take to raise reading achievement in a whole school (K-5) with 24 teachers?   Shanahan's response:   It...

April 19, 2016

Last week, I wrote about the value of the information parents receive when their kids take common — or standardized — assessments.

But I know that leaves some parents wondering whether they are permitting their children to experience harm by taking those assessments. There’s certainly...

April 11, 2016

Some kids tell their parents everything that goes on in school.

At least, that’s what I’ve heard. My kids certainly never did. My older daughter, in particular, considered school to be her domain.

She established my outsider status her first day of nursery school, when I went to pick her up. Excited to hear about everything she had done, I asked her how her day went. Her response...

December 18, 2015

When you are traveling with your own child and your mother, the topic of parenting is bound to come up. While on our Little Journey, most of those discussions were bedtime and mealtime related. But we also found ourselves frequently remarking on the parenting skills of Charles and Caroline Ingalls.

In so many ways, Ma and Pa did right by their girls — even by today’s standards. They...

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.

October 30, 2015

National Family Literacy Day® falls on Nov. 1 2015. This national observance often kicks off a month of family literacy activities in libraries, schools, and community settings. It is a time for educators, librarians and others to celebrate learning differences and many ways to read. Put a spotlight on accessible digital text and alternatives to print. Build a nation of readers. 

Digital...

September 23, 2015

Our little journey last summer brought many of the experiences of the Ingalls family to life for us. From sweeping out a dugout to making a corncob doll, we felt like we had walked in Laura’s shoes. But we hadn’t eaten at her table. While Breece and Avery enjoyed a stick of old fashioned candy at nearly every stop, there was very little authentic pioneer flavor to our food experiences along...

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!...

August 19, 2015

In Carol’s final blog posting for the summer, the family embarks on another Start with a Book summer science exploration: The Night Sky. Unbeknownst to them, their exploration continues on in paradise, and wraps up at home in their own front yard.

August 6, 2015

A free e-book and guide from an expert on dyslexia, Kelli-Sandman-Hurley, aims to dispel myths about dyslexia. It also cautions parents to be less trusting of school personnel if they suspect their child's reading difficulties stem from this particular reading difficulty. She gives specific advice on how parents can advocate for their child during an Individualized Education Program (IEP)...

August 11, 2015

Carol and her kids explore the topic of flight with a visit to the National Air and Space Museum. Their ongoing exploration of flight continues during their summer travels as they learn about Amelia Earhart, go on five planes, and make their own paper airplanes.

Addie loves science. It’s something that she started expressing a great interest in this past year. So it was on my...

July 29, 2015

From a teacher:

I wanted to ask your opinion regarding the structure of report cards for parents of students in grades 3-5. Understanding that ELA CCSS intertwines the areas of reading, language, spelling, writing, and moving toward creating district standards-based report cards in all K-5 grade levels, how do you think students' progress should be reported out to...

July 16, 2015

Carol and her family share their gardening adventures. They learn the virtue of patience when it comes to gardening with some help from a book called And Then It’s Spring, and experience the satisfaction of growing their own fruits and vegetables from seed.

The other day, Addie asked me, “Mommy, why was there a tomato warning?”

“A tomato warning?” I repeated, confused...

July 15, 2015

Understood.org experts convened July 14 in Washington, D.C. at the Newseum broadcast studio to help inform parents and build their confidence about raising children and youth with learning and attention issues. Panelists included:

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"You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend." — Paul Sweeney