Vocabulary

September 30, 2019

Teacher question: What’s the best way to teach and have students master vocabulary?

Shanahan's response:

My original reaction to this question was not exactly what I’d label a model of helpfulness.

The question was asked by someone new to my blog and I started to send him a note telling him I’d written about that several times...

July 5, 2019

Teacher question: I know you get a lot of pushback from teachers when you say that we should teach with complex text. But I agree with you. I don’t like all the testing and teaching kids in so many different books. This might surprise you, but I wonder why you don’t emphasize teaching complex text with children in kindergarten and first-grade?

Shanahan'...

June 18, 2019

Teacher question: I'm a curriculum and instruction supervisor for a smaller district. We feel like we have a pretty firm grasp on assessing and diagnosing when it comes to phonemic awareness, decoding, fluency, and comprehension. However, we're struggling with vocabulary. Is there any assessment you would recommend that would give us a feel if a student is approaching...

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?

Shanahan's response: 

I suspect that both the critics and the teachers are telling you the truth.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a national education inspectorate...

January 30, 2019

Teacher question:

If you were teaching second-grade what would your schedule look like?

Shanahan's response:

This question — in various forms — came up a lot this week in response to last week’s posting. Here is my thinking on this.

I start from the premise that I want kids to get between 120-180 minutes per day of reading...

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?

Shanahan's response

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...

September 17, 2018

Anna Faulkner acquired a passion for working with students in 2006 as a teacher at Bingham Academy, an international school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She moved back to the U.S. to earn her Masters of Education in International Education Policy and graduated in May of 2012.

Since then she has been working with children and thinking about how to make education more meaningful,...

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.

...

July 27, 2018

Becky Koons is a Senior Resident Services Manager with AHC Inc. at the Woodbury Park Community Center in Arlington, Virginia. AHC’s Summer Camp program is designed to prevent learning loss — a particular challenge for low-income students — through both educational and enrichment experiences.

Becky believes there is not much better than sitting on the beach with her toes in the sand...

July 20, 2018

How can we teach children about one of our most important natural resources? Gaynelle Diaz combines lots of reading with art, hands-on activities, and field trips to jumpstart a summer full of learning about water and our local rivers.

Gaynelle is the Center Coordinator at the Ruby Tucker Family Center, for the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority. As a young child, she...

October 6, 2017

Teacher question:

I am a reading specialist at a K-5 elementary school and I am working with classroom teachers to implement a book buddy program where older students (2nd and 3rd grade) will read to younger students (K and 1st grade). I am planning to spend some time with the older students to coach them on selecting appropriate books and engaging their buddies by...

August 27, 2017

Teacher question:My district has moved into an approach of asking teachers to locate materials for standards-based instruction. They have opted to create assessments to isolate individual standards to teach/test each standard individually. Each assessment is named by reading standard and is associated with grade-level English Language Arts courses. What thoughts do you...

August 22, 2017

Teacher question:

I coordinate reading interventions for my district. I have been told to stop referring to the National Reading Panel, as it is old and no longer relevant. Our universal screener is based on the 5 components of reading, and our basal interventions are also aligned to the "big 5". I don't think there is any way for me to stop referencing the NRP....

July 31, 2017

Summer can provide the time to read that lots of kids need to strengthen skills. But summer also offers other warm-weather distractions that have more kid appeal than books.

William Weil, Co-Founder and CEO of Tales2go, an award-winning kids' mobile audiobook service, shares his ideas for building reading comprehension skills...

July 10, 2017

A few months ago, I read Mark Seidenberg’s Language at the Speed of Sight. Seidenberg is a psychologist who studies reading, and his book is remarkably intelligent, frank, and witty. I think there is an occasional mistake or ambiguity here and there, but overall I was mesmerized.

Typically...

June 15, 2017

Teacher question:

Teachers in grades 3, 4 and 5 spend weeks and weeks (like 5-6) reading aloud chapter books to their students. In some classrooms, students have a copy of the book.  Is there research that speaks to the effectiveness of a read-aloud over a period of time?

Does student interest wane...

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 28, 2017

For generations, reading experts have told teachers that they had to teach students to read at their instructional levels. Teachers were admonished that if they taught children with books that were too easy, there would be nothing for the kids to learn. If they taught with books that were too hard, then the reading instruction would frustrate rather than improve.

In general,...

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 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...

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"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." — Walt Disney