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Time to Tell Parents the Truth about Helping their Kids with Reading

Teacher question:

Our schools have recently sent the home reports and parent-teacher meetings have recently taken place. I have heard from quite a few concerned parents that teachers have told them their child is 'struggling with reading' and have recommended reading to the child at least 20 minutes a day. These are parents of children k-2. The recommendation to read to the children frustrates the parents, and me as well, since all of them are already doing this. They are looking for more specifics on what to do. Do you have any insight?

Does Oral Language Instruction Improve Literacy?

Teacher question

I’ve looked at your framework and am surprised that it doesn’t include oral language. I’m a kindergarten teacher and can’t imagine leaving that out. Am I misunderstanding something?

Shanahan's answer

I feel your pain.

Yes, you’re correct that my framework focuses on the teaching of phonological awareness, decoding/spelling, vocabulary, oral reading fluency, reading comprehension, and writing. But not oral language.

And, like you, I agonize over that omission (if it is one).

Is Morphology Training Better Than Phonics Instruction?

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:

The Learner Characteristic that Leads to Different Learning

Last week, I pointed out that research had found few interactions in literacy learning. That is, research hasn't actually uncovered many situations in which different kinds of kids learn differently — despite many claims to the contrary.

Does One-Size-Fits-All Reading Instruction Work for Everyone?

Someone put a bug in my ear, and I started writing, and by the time I was done, I had two blogs rather than one. I'll set the table with this one, and bring it to conclusion next time.

One of the best things about research is that it can let the wind out of windbags and force some hard thinking. Our field suffers fatuous pronouncements as much as any. An example?

How about the constant drumbeat concerning the failure of “one size fits all” instructional approaches? Seemingly, everybody agrees with that one.

A Spirited Reaction to One District's Approach to Standards-Based Reading Instruction

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 have on how I might guide them to move from assessing isolated standards to a more integrated approach?

Shanahan's response:

Can I Still Rely on the National Reading Panel Report?

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. Would you please comment?

Shanahan's response: 

Language at the Speed of Sight—On Cueing Systems, Phonemes, Speed Reading, and Sequences of Learning

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.

Teaching Reading in a Noisy Environment

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.

How Do You Make a Good Reader? Just the Basics

Teacher question:

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

Shanahan's response:

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"I feel the need of reading. It is a loss to a man not to have grown up among books." —

Abraham Lincoln