Vocabulary's Three-Legged Stool: The Place for Dictionary Skills in Vocabulary Instruction

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 teachers rely on them in the classroom?”

Shanahan's response:

How Can Reading Coaches Raise Reading Achievement?

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’s easy. Just do the following 9 things:

1. Improve leadership

Same but different

A Washington Post columnist recently lamented the impact of the current polarized political climate in the United States. She said it was “contaminating” our children; that its impact was visible in various interactions.

Inclusion: Advice, Keys to Educating Diverse Early Learners with Dual Language + Disabilities

The Iris Center announces a new IRISSTAR Legacy Module, Dual Language Learners with Disabilities: Supporting Young Children in the Classroom. It is free online and offers ideas for serving diverse early learners in a classroom where instruction must take into account multiple languages, cultures, diverse learning needs, and backgrounds.

Is Rhyming Ability Important in Reading?

Our district is wrestling with how much emphasis to give rhyming as an early literacy skill. We had previously downplayed rhyming as a necessary focus but the new CA ELA/ELD Framework and CCSS where rhyming is specifically called out has resurfaced old questions.

Questions and answers about the Common Core

There are lots of questions out there about implementing the Common Core State Standards. Over at Shanahan on Literacy, Professor Tim Shanahan has posted the questions and answers from a recent webinar he did on the Common Core. I recommend hopping over there to scroll through the whole post — I suspect many of you are asking the same questions as these webinar participants!

Among the topics covered:

Literacy pledge cards for parents

I'm very excited about a new project I've been working on. It's a series of webinars focused on Parent Engagement, produced by Reading Rockets in partnership with the Campaign for Grade Level Reading. You can read more about the series here. You can also see the PPT slides our presenters used for the first webinar, and links to many related resources. We'll update that page each time we have a new webinar.

Learning outcomes versus teaching tools

Over at Shanahan on Literacy, Dr. Shanahan wrote an interesting post We Zigged When We Should Have Zagged about the lack of comprehension strategies in the Common Core State Standards.

New reality series: Kindergarten Teacher

Congratulations to Patricia Raina, from Suisun Valley K-8 School in Fairfield, California! Ms. Raina was one of three teachers from across the nation selected as winners of an NBC Education Nation essay contest.

Her idea? A new reality show: Kindergarten Teacher. Ms. Raina's essay is cleverly written in the form of "rounds" Contestants try to move from round to round, although certain things disqualify a contestant immediately.

Teach handwriting. Really!

Richard Gentry and Steve Graham reaffirm the research about the importance of spelling and handwriting instruction in a new white paper. I'll write about the spelling research in a separate post, this one will focus on handwriting.


"You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend." — Paul Sweeney