Spelling and word study

August 19, 2019

Last week, I posed 5 questions as the first half of the Great American Phonics Quiz. I hope you did well on those items that focused on whether students could learn to read without phonics, what kind of contribution it makes to learning, whether phonics instruction needs to be...

August 20, 2018

Teacher question:

Are there any resources that provide a list of morphemes to teach at each K-5 grade level? I have been looking for a definitive list of morphemes that is organized by grade level like the Fry sight word list. I often come across research about how L1 and L2 students acquire morphemes, but I am looking for a list that represents the morphemes that students will most...

September 14, 2017

Man, sometimes when you publish a blog entry you’d wish you stayed in bed.

You hope to write something that someone will find useful. But the responses might make you feel more like you’ve been dropped onto the set of Fox News or MSNBC.

Recently, I’ve experienced some interesting responses.

For example:

Studies show that phonemic awareness (PA) training helps young...

May 28, 2017

Teacher question:

What makes good readers? What are kids lacking making them not so good readers?

Shanahan's response:

I love this question because it cuts to the heart of everything we do. If teachers don’t have clear purchase on what it takes to become a good reader, and what some kids might be...

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...

March 7, 2016

Two questions from teachers:   I have a question that was posed to me be an elementary principal. Her question was, "How many times does a student need to write a high frequency word before they feel secure with it?"  [I must admit, I have never been asked this question before, and I cannot find research that addresses this specific question.]   The teachers in my...

January 5, 2016

If you have ever had surgery, you probably have had the weird experience of signing off on a bunch of medical paperwork. The oddest form is the one that gives the surgeon permission to assault you. Think about it. Usually we don’t want people poking at us with knives. Doctors can’t do that either, unless we give our permission. Otherwise, every tonsillectomy would lead to a 911 call.

...

November 12, 2015

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences describes an update for the Lindamood Bell approach to reading instruction (LiPS®). Findings show some potentially positive effects and some mixed effects.

Can Be Important

I Believe in Myself

Both an adult student and a parent of a student,...

September 30, 2015

Question from a teacher:

Our preK-5 school has a number of struggling readers, and we were told yesterday that we should focus only on fluency and accuracy, not comprehension or vocabulary. We were also told that we really shouldn't be using our grade level reading materials or complex texts in the classroom until students are fluent and accurate. I'd love to hear...

May 8, 2015

My last blog entry was written in response to a fifth-grade teacher who wanted to know about spelling instruction. Although teachers at her school thought that formal spelling instruction, like working with word lists, was a bad idea, it turns out that such teaching is beneficial to kids. The same can be said for...

May 1, 2015

I often hear concerns about our students' poor spelling abilities, and have been thinking about practical ways to address this issue. Although we want to continue to steer away from memorized lists that are often not retained, I want to get your feedback about incorporating more word study in your ELA block. I know what you are thinking — there is no time! I first want to hear your...

April 18, 2013

There are just 40 days until the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Our elementary school holds a local event, and classroom-winning third through fifth graders wring their hands on stage working to spell some tough words! This year, a middle schooler from our school district won our regional competition by correctly spelling "Bolshevik." He will be among the competitors at the national level...

April 4, 2013

What if your students could share a popular work of children's literature with other students around the world? Fourth-grade teacher Jan Wells has blown the lid off her small school in Meriden Kansas (population 813) by taking advantage of (free) projects offered...

August 24, 2011

First day jitters? First week jitters? Assessing kids those first few days and weeks of school probably isn't a great idea. Kids need a chance to settle in to school, to learn the new routine, and generally become more comfortable in the new classroom. Hopefully, by waiting, a child's assessment results more accurately reflect her true skills.

Here in Virginia, kindergarten teachers...

April 20, 2009

I've written before about using a child's writing as a way to understand what she needs from her instruction. This weekend provided me with more insight into Anna's (our 6 year old) development by showing me what she's "using but confusing," a term used by Donald Bear and colleagues in their research in word study.

...

October 13, 2008

I think I'll open a can of worms this week and declare that teachers should abandon the age-old practice of Friday spelling tests. You know the routine (because you went to elementary school, and it hasn't changed): students get new words on Monday, "practice" them during the week using various drills; they take a test on Friday, and then on Monday, misspell the words and all the other words...

February 1, 2008

Within Molly's first-grade class, there is a huge range of spelling and reading skills. Her teacher groups for reading and spelling; usually the kids who read together have the same word study words, but not always. There are four word study groups within the classroom.

Having four...

December 19, 2007

We're still reading and writing around our house, with Anna adding to her list each day. Because of this, I'll be busy right up until the last minute trying to figure out what a few of these things might be!

Happy holidays to you — thanks for reading Sound It Out this year, and I look forward to next year! We'll have lots to talk about, including infusing technology into literacy...

December 5, 2007

Like everyone, we're in for a busy couple of weeks. Our homework and storytime routines sometimes get pushed aside, and at first I was feeling guilty about that. But when I think about how the girls are spending their time, there's plenty of reading, writing, and math going on...it just looks different! Here's how Anna spent her afternoon yesterday on the computer:

Dear Santa,...

"Let us remember: one book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world." —

Malala Yousafzei