I came into the teaching profession aware that my White middle class experience would impact how I taught. I earned my teaching credential and masters degree from a program focused on social justice. There, I’d read and discussed books such as Teaching Other People's Children and Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity, so I understood, in theory, the...
June 16, 2020
January 27, 2020
Before I answer, let me ask one: What keeps Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, up at night?
You know Amazon, the trillion-dollar corporation that delivers something like a 5 billion packages a year.
I’m at a professional meeting. The chair asks what “levers” we have for improving reading achievement in the U.S.
It’s an easy question. There are...
November 26, 2019
Thank you for writing No One Gets to Own the Term “The Science of Reading.” I am so relieved that discussion of reading science has made its way into the balanced literacy community and that you’ve added your own voice to the conversation. You’re making it safe for...
October 21, 2019
There’s new momentum behind teaching reading more directly and explicitly, but many of us are wondering: is this just another swing of a pendulum? It’s hard to believe that investing in new reading practices is worthwhile if the new practices will fall out of favor in a few years. But for district leaders who want to make a lasting impact, there is no better focus than reading...
October 7, 2019
What does it mean that something has research support? I’ve been a teacher for years and I’ve taught hundreds of children to read. Now I’m being told that in our district we are expected to teach in some new way that has research behind it. I like how I teach reading and I don’t want to change. Why should I?
August 12, 2019
Schools are so tied up with testing these days, and this being the season of “monitoring assessments,” maybe a back-to-school phonics quiz would be a good way to welcome you all back.
I was having so much fun writing these test questions that I considered either putting in for a job at ETS or including a Part II next week ... I decided on the latter.
Let’s see how you do. The...
August 12, 2019
I experienced two very different things this week: I revisited some speeches by the incomparable Toni Morrison after I learned of her death. And I watched a recent video about education. I hope not only the timeliness but also how these two intersect will become clear as you read on.
A recent video that is posted on Colorín Colorado focuses on English language learners (ELLs) in...
August 4, 2019
First, a little context:
I am a white literacy coach in a large urban district where half the teachers are of color. When I began my job, I believed that my focus on evidence-based reading instruction, good intentions and belief that all students can learn would make me well-equipped to bring research to our diverse staff. How naive I was!
Entering this work, I was blind to...
May 29, 2019
Teacher question: I keep hearing that teachers don’t know the science of reading. But all the teachers that I talk to say that they teach phonics. What’s really going on?
I suspect that both the critics and the teachers are telling you the truth.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a national education inspectorate...
April 17, 2019
Teacher question: Here is my dilemma. My administration has decided that if a student has 3 or 4 points of data on an ORF (Oral Reading Fluency) graph that shows they are not making progress then the entire reading intervention program must be changed. It doesn't matter to them if the student had been making progress for months before in the same program. I was told by my...
February 26, 2019
Teacher question: My district instituted a weekly "checkpoint" (a short passage and multiple-choice assessment aligned to our standardized test). Teachers are required to give this, and then break it down by standard in a meeting with a coach. I've argued that these tests are likely not measuring what they think they are. They believe that these can tell teachers whether...
February 19, 2019
Teacher question: Prevention of dyslexia and other reading problems should be everyone’s number one priority. Why isn’t their more emphasis on the early identification of reading problems, before they have a chance to ruin children’s lives?
In 2018, I was asked to edit an issue of Perspectives of Language...
January 22, 2019
Teacher question: The National Assessment of Educational Progress says that only 37% of 4th graders are reaching reading proficiency. Why is it so low?
Why do so few American kids read well?
There seems to be plenty of blame to go around. Parents? Society? Too much screen time? Poverty? Immigration? You and me...
December 17, 2018
Teacher question: I hope and pray that you write about or repost regarding state reading assessments. I just received a call from a frantic academic coach stating that her principal has told her teachers to look at our state test’s achievement level descriptors and create test-based questions aligned to those levels to ask when immersing students in literature and...
November 15, 2018
I talk a lot about research in this space.
I argue for research-based instruction and policy.
I point out a dearth of empirical evidence behind some instructional schemes, and champion others that have been validated or verified to my satisfaction.
Some readers are happy to find out what is “known,” and others see me as a killjoy because the research findings don’t...
July 5, 2018
Have you ever felt like recess is the hardest part of the day to support? Me too! Check out my latest vlog post to learn options for inclusion on the blacktop and beyond.
These ideas are from my book, Don’t We Already Do Inclusion?
June 15, 2018
We are trying to raise our third-grade reading scores. What do you think of “platooning” to help us meet that goal?
Platooning, or what in my time was called “departmentalization,” is apparently on the rise in America’s primary grades. Schools like yours are hungry to raise reading and...
January 23, 2018
I am a reading coordinator. We are in our first year of implementing a new reading program. As we have rolled out the new curriculum, we've been explicit about the reading instructional practices and routines that we expect to see used each day. We’ve had lots of PD. How else are we going to know the impact that the series has on our achievement...
December 5, 2017
Our schools have recently sent the home reports and parent-teacher meetings have recently taken place. I have heard from quite a few concerned parents that teachers have told them their child is 'struggling with reading' and have recommended reading to the child at least 20 minutes a day. These are parents of children k-2. The recommendation to...
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.