Writing

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...

July 23, 2019

Fifty years ago, I was clueless about the fact that Neil Armstrong was taking the first steps on the Moon. I was a busy toddler taking my own very first steps! Even though I missed the big event, I have forever been fascinated by the Moon. Like many young children, I was sure it was following me every time I went out at night and wondered why the Moon and I had such a special connection....

June 26, 2019

Leah Henderson shares with Book Life how a simple moment can lead to hours of exploration and real and imagined adventures. Complement her recommendations for summer exploration with the Start with a Book Geography, Travel...

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...

July 5, 2018

Teacher question:

I’ve collected some data on first-grade writing. I developed a plan for getting 6-year-olds to write arguments and I have a rubric designed to allow me to figure out how well my supports help them to write effective arguments (evaluating whether they took a clear position on the topic, and how much evidence they used). I tried it out and gave the...

April 30, 2018

Thanks to Twitter, last month I noticed that some of my teacher friends were producing and sharing a lot of great writing. They’d joined the Slice of Life Story Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers and were posting interesting writing about everyday...

April 23, 2018

Thanks to Twitter, last month I noticed that some of my teacher friends were producing and sharing a lot of great writing. They’d joined the Slice of Life Story Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers and were posting interesting writing about everyday...

April 2, 2018

Thanks to Twitter, last month I noticed that some of my teacher friends were producing and sharing a lot of great writing. They’d joined the Slice of Life Story Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers and were posting interesting writing about everyday...

March 13, 2018

Teacher question:

What are your thoughts about writing in Kindergarten? Is there a scientifically-researched instructional methodology that we should implement. We’ve been trying to embed writing opportunities within the literacy block related to the whole group listening comprehension text. Should students draw in relation to the prompt or question and then label...

February 21, 2018

Teacher question:

What are your thoughts about writing in kindergarten? Is there a scientifically-researched instructional methodology that we should implement. We’ve been trying to embed writing opportunities within the literacy block related to the whole group listening comprehension text. Should students draw in relation to the prompt or question and then label...

January 5, 2018

While I’m not big on making my own new year’s resolutions, I do love to take time to reflect on my year of reading and plan what to read next! These bookish resolutions from the kidlit community — compiled by my friend Madelyn Rosenberg — offer lots of ideas for titles to read and a great glimpse of the goals writers set for themselves.

...

December 19, 2017

This may be the season for celebrations, family travel, and out-of-town guests, but it is also a great time of year to engage kids in all kinds of joyful and meaningful learning experiences. To help make the most of winter break, Reading Rockets’ sister project, Start with a Book provides parents and caring adults with ideas and...

November 7, 2017

At An Unlikely Story bookstore in Plainville, MA, Gene sits down for a lively conversation with Wimpy Kid author (and bookstore owner) Jeff Kinney.

As a kid, Kinney was a prankster and a devoted reader of his sister's Judy Blume books. He later discovered fantasy (The Hobbitt, The Lord of the Rings, and the...

September 19, 2017

How was your summer?

Like most summers, it went by way too quickly for me. But there are a couple of things I think will be helpful to do to preserve this summer’s bounty of reading and learning.

Reflect

Give kids a chance to look back on summer adventures and recognize how much learning happened — even though they weren’t in school! Talk about all the things you did...

June 22, 2017

Pairing fiction and nonfiction is a great way to engage readers. So is pairing a book with an activity or experience to extend excitement or enhance learning. But there are other kinds of great pairings when it comes to books. Here are Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan...

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...

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...

March 16, 2017

A slew of letters seeking ideas on disciplinary literacy: Teacher 1: The Common Core highlights that every teacher is a reading and writing teacher in their discipline. I think this idea is important in combination with the best practices for content area learning. My main interest in this is based on helping students who struggle to learn to read in early grade levels,...

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