Vocabulary

August 4, 2016

Reader question: We just started close reading in our district last year. Our second graders were given text that was a grade level above their reading level. We were told to let them figure it out. They could not even read the first sentence it was too hard for their reading level. The reading coaches said they will learn to read it by letting them struggle with it. The...

June 1, 2016

Teacher question:

I’m a literacy coach, and one of the teachers in one of my online classes asked the following question: “The article mentions that using a dictionary to define a word is a superficial method of vocabulary acquisition. While it may be too rash to discontinue using dictionaries, how should they be used in vocabulary instruction, and how much should...

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...

January 29, 2016

Bonjour, cher lecteurs.

Oops ... Hello, dear readers.

January 20, 2016

Teacher question: In terms of teaching comprehension to grade 3-5 students, what is the best way to help the readers transfer the strategies they are taught so they can be independent, self-regulated readers? Shanahan's response:  If you want to teach reading comprehension strategies to on-grade level students between the ages of 8-10, we have a pretty...

October 19, 2015

Teacher question:

Our school district is going wild over Lexiles because they are in the Common Core standards. I think they are overdoing it and don’t feel comfortable with some of the decisions that we are making. What are the weaknesses of Lexiles?

First, Lexiles is only one of several readability measures included in the CCSS. They started with that...

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!

Here are 11...

August 17, 2015

From a teacher:

What do you recommend is the best way to teach vocabulary to struggling readers at the middle school level?

My snappy reply:

I know of no special ways of teaching vocabulary to that group of students. Vocabulary is one of the many areas of instruction that one doesn’t find much in the way of interactions. What I...

July 24, 2015

From a reader:

Any thoughts on top 2 or 3 literacy concepts on which you would focus librarians? Grades 4-8?

My response:

Let me say how happy I am that you are available to students and teachers. As I make my way across the country I find fewer and fewer school-based librarians. Unfortunately, you appear to be part of a...

July 10, 2015

When I was 8, there were two boys, Chris and Paul. They were both tow-heads, gentle and quiet, with loping walks; and both could draw beautifully… if a teacher struggled to draw a straight line or a round circle on the chalkboard, she’d ask Chris or Paul, who could do it, seemingly without effort.

Oh, and by the way, they were identical twins. I couldn’t tell Chris and Paul apart. Few...

May 14, 2015

How much of a "gap" can be compensated through differentiation? If my readers are at a 400 Lexile level, is there an effective way to use a 820 level chapter book?

This is a great question. (Have you ever noticed that usually means the responder thinks he has an answer).

For years, teachers were told that students had to be taught with books that matched their ability,...

April 23, 2015

Interactive books and e-books in digital formats move readers who struggle with print beyond their decoding difficulties and their slow reading rates into a new world of learning.

Learning Digitally

Accessibility features increasing are improving in digital book editions, and they are built-in from the start. Interacting with curriculum content stands to enrich vocabulary and aid...

October 16, 2014

The term "guided reading" is causing a lot of confusion. Most of us now use it as shorthand to refer to those instructional procedures recommended by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell in their book, Guided Reading (1996).

The problem with that conception of the term "guided reading" is that it actually conglomerates three separate aspects of instruction into one idea. And, that’s where...

February 12, 2014

Those of us on the east coast are bracing for (yet another!) winter storm that promises to close schools for several days and leave parents at home with wet gloves and bored kids! Here are a few suggestions for sprinkling some reading and writing in-between sled rides.

April 29, 2013

You're probably familiar with TED talks, the 6-18 minute talks gathered under the tagline of "Ideas worth spreading." All TED talks are free to view, and are searchable by topic. There are many thought-provoking talks on a wide variety of topics.

TED playlists were a new concept to me. As the name suggests, talks on similar topics are gathered together to form a playlist. One playlist...

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...

March 11, 2013

Wordless picture books are books are told entirely through their illustrations — they are books without words, or sometimes just a few words. Sharing wordless books at home or at school gives us a chance to develop so many important literacy skills: listening, speaking, storytelling, vocabulary, comprehension, story structure, inference, cause and effect … the list goes on and on!

When...

March 1, 2013

Words are so cool! I was reminded of that last night as I helped my daughter study for her word study test. Her word study for the week involved three Latin roots (pater, mater, dicta) and, for each one, related words used in our everyday lives (for example: patriarch, matrimony, contradiction). Anna doesn't really appreciate how much she's learning about words through this study, but I sure...

Pages

"Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!" — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943