Struggling readers

June 16, 2020

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...

April 6, 2020

Hello, Reading World! As with most of you, I’m sheltering in place … biding my time until the Great Pandemic Pandemonium subsides. Although despite being at what is currently an awkward (and apparently dangerous) age, I feel pretty safe locked down here in Chicago. Nevertheless, like all of you, I'm worried about family members who are on the front line in this fight, my...

February 6, 2020

Teacher question: When working with state educational standards are the expectations for the student to be able to accomplish each of the standards with grade level text. Some of us believe that if a fourth-grade student can determine the main idea in a second-grade text that the student has mastered that standard. Please help us settle this argument.

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January 30, 2020

Confession

I always had students who entered my fourth grade class reading significantly below grade level. And each year, when I passed them on to fifth grade, those students were still behind. I did everything I knew how to do — I taught Guided Reading lessons, provided independent reading time, found them books to love, replied to readers’ response journals- but no matter what I tried in...

November 5, 2019

I don’t do this often, but occasionally a study that catches my eye is particularly pertinent to questions that teachers are asking me.

National surveys suggest that middle and high school teachers are increasingly likely to place kids in texts that are relatively easy to read (Rand, 2017; Thomas Fordham Foundation, 2018) — texts that are supposedly at the students’ “instructional...

June 11, 2019

Recently, the PBS News Hour aired a report about the parents of children who suffer from dyslexia. Their kids weren’t being taught phonics and weren’t learning to read. When phonics instruction was provided, they did better, and so the moms were pressuring their state to ensure other kids wouldn’t face the same neglect. It was a classic story of public institutions (in this case schools) not...

June 3, 2019

Recently PBS News Hour broadcast a segment about dyslexia and reading instruction. In response, 57 members of the Reading Hall of Fame submitted a letter of complaint, which has since been posted publicly.

Here is a link to the PBS segment and the letter is posted in the comments section following the video segment on this site:...

May 9, 2019

Teacher question: We place children in different kindergarten (or prekindergarten) tracks based upon their performances on a readiness screener — and in consultation with parents. However, our state now has a “Read by Grade Three” law, which requires retention in third grade for students who don’t meet that standard.

We have several students who are very...

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...

April 18, 2018

Teacher question:

I wonder if you could comment on your blog about this crazy idea that the reading specialists should change the program every 12 weeks if a student is not showing growth on the one-minute reading fluency measure. I have second grade student who reads 80 wcpm with 97% accuracy. She made great growth in the fall but has leveled out this...

June 1, 2017

Welcome Colleen Dykema to Book Life! Colleen is an award-winning ESL teacher and reading specialist with Arlington Public Schools. Her teaching career began in 1972, and since 2000 she’s worked with English language learners at Swanson Middle School. A...

June 1, 2017

Teacher question:

Our district is exploring and embracing Personalized Learning. We have a committee that has been going to professional development all year and a small group that is trying this out in their classrooms. Next year another group of teachers will be brought on to implement personalized learning and mentor under those trying it this year.

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May 10, 2017

I’m vacationing in Aix-en-Provence. I’ve written before about teaching myself to read French, and now I’m enrolled in a spoken French class. Très hard!!!

Maybe not much of a vacation, and, yet, I’m gaining valuable insights into what we must do to teach successfully with complex text.

Our tour includes about a dozen people; some are studying French, and some are not. Because...

April 13, 2017

Teacher question:

Is there a point at which it does not make sense to use a particular challenging text with a particular student? For instance, take an 8th grader who reads at about a 3rd grade level. The student can decode reasonably well but is dysfluent and, due to learning English, has poor comprehension resulting from low vocabulary knowledge and lots of...

March 23, 2017

Welcome Madelyn Rosenberg to Book Life! Madelyn is a mom, journalist, and the author of nine books for children. Her newest book, This Is Just a Test, with Wendy Wan-Long Shang, comes out on June 27.

Guest post by Madelyn Rosenberg

For my elementary school acting...

March 21, 2017

Gene sits down with award-winning YA author Jason Reynolds. They talk about the unusual story structure in All American Boys, the inspiration for the book, and how writing it emerged from a deep friendship (full of “uncomfortable, healthy conversations”) with his co-author, Brendan Kiely. With his book Ghost, Reynolds wanted to explore the whole concept of “running” — and...

February 13, 2017

This week’s challenging question:   I had a question from some schools people that I’m not sure how to answer. I wonder if anyone has data on what progress can be expected of students in the primary grades getting extra help in reading.   Let’s assume that the students are getting good/appropriate instruction, and the data were showing that 44% of students (...

February 8, 2017

Boy, oh, boy! The past couple weeks have brought unseasonably warm temperatures to the Midwest, and unusual flurries of questions concerning teaching children at their, so-called, “instructional levels.” Must be salesman season, or something.

September 27, 2016

A poster session at the 2016 UDL Symposium was brimming with free and low-cost assistive technology. Use these resources to immediately support teaching and learning with the Accessible Educational Materials (AEM/AIM) that reduce frustration for both vulnerable and variable able learners. Moreover, AEM is a necessity that enables so many learners to thrive when they have print...

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"What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person ..." —

Carl Sagan