Parent engagement

Map Fun: Creating a Visual Itinerary

Shen family trip to France

This summer we traveled to France for a friend’s wedding and the Tour de France. It was a trip that included a long road trip with multiple stops. I thought a fun way to get the kids excited about the trip would be a map exercise: creating a visual itinerary to help the kids understand where we were going and what we’d be seeing.

Do Architects Build Dollhouses?


When you ask my daughter Addie what she wants to be when she grows up, she’ll say a number of things, one of which is wanting to be an architect. When you ask her why she wants to be an architect, she’ll tell you that buildings come in all sorts of interesting shapes and designs. She may also mention that it’d be fun to build dollhouses.

Imaginations Take Flight

Last month I read an article about Clip-Air, a concept for a new modular aircraft. Clip-Air would separate the wings from the fuselage so that body of the plane could be loaded with passengers or cargo anywhere — like a bus station or train depot — and then driven to the wings for takeoff. Even more cool is that up to three passenger or cargo units could be attached to one set of wings!

The Slow Path Forward: We Can — and Do — Learn from Reading Research

We in education tend to have very strong beliefs. And, those beliefs can overwhelm our knowledge — or even our willingness to gain knowledge.

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

Opting Your Kid Out? Part 2

Last week, I wrote about the value of the information parents receive when their kids take common — or standardized — assessments.

Opting Your Kid Out? It Means Opting Out of Being a More Informed Parent

Some kids tell their parents everything that goes on in school.

At least, that’s what I’ve heard. My kids certainly never did. My older daughter, in particular, considered school to be her domain.

She established my outsider status her first day of nursery school, when I went to pick her up. Excited to hear about everything she had done, I asked her how her day went. Her response: “None of your business,” or something to that effect.

Sharing family stories

When you are traveling with your own child and your mother, the topic of parenting is bound to come up. While on our Little Journey, most of those discussions were bedtime and mealtime related. But we also found ourselves frequently remarking on the parenting skills of Charles and Caroline Ingalls.

In so many ways, Ma and Pa did right by their girls — even by today’s standards. They taught self-reliance and industry. Offered lessons in patience, forgiveness and how to show gratitude. And they valued education and had books in their home.

Please Be Charitable for Literacy

As regular readers know, this is the time of the year that I identify charities that try to help improve children's literacy and language and to make books available to kids. Readers of my blog obviously care about whether kids can read and why not make that cause part of your charitable gifting as well.
Each year, I comb through Charity Navigator to identify appropriate literacy-focused charitable agencies. I look for national and internationals groups that are rated as 3- and 4-star charities (that means they are spending at least 80% of the contributions on services). 

7 Ways To Make National Family Literacy Day, Reading More Accessible, More Inclusive

National Family Literacy Day® falls on Nov. 1 2015. This national observance often kicks off a month of family literacy activities in libraries, schools, and community settings. It is a time for educators, librarians and others to celebrate learning differences and many ways to read. Put a spotlight on accessible digital text and alternatives to print. Build a nation of readers. 


"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges