Why an Overemphasis on Foundational Reading Skills Isn't Healthy for Kids

Principal's question:

District leadership has advised primary teachers to focus on the Foundational Skills Strand, and de-emphasize the other strands. The belief is that if students go into Grade 3 having mastered foundational skills, they will be prepared to master the rigor of the other strands.

Laying Waste to 5 Popular Myths About Reading Instruction

"Summertime and the living is easy, fish are jumping, and the cotton is high..." 
It is summer and not a good time for a long blog on literacy teaching. So, I took the time to write a short one. I didn't want to get worked up in the summer heat, so have provided a pithy critique of 5 popular myths about reading instruction. 

1.  The fact that you do not use a textbook to teach reading does not make you a good teacher. 

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

Writing as a Response to Reading

Teacher question: My students talk about the stories through collaborative conversations and class discussions, but I hardly allow time for students to write written responses.  How often should I have students write a written response and should students be taking notes on the story?

Shanahan's response:

Kids Need to Read Within Instruction

If you have ever had surgery, you probably have had the weird experience of signing off on a bunch of medical paperwork. The oddest form is the one that gives the surgeon permission to assault you. Think about it. Usually we don’t want people poking at us with knives. Doctors can’t do that either, unless we give our permission. Otherwise, every tonsillectomy would lead to a 911 call.

That means context matters. Stick a knife in someone in an OR and that is cool, do the same thing down at the local tap and you'll do 5-7 in the state penitentiary.

Does Assistive Tech Support Young Writers with Disabilities?

NaNoWriMo is a marathon writing event that challenges participants to write the first draft of a 50,000­ word novel in November. There are local chapters in more than 600 regions around the world that organize in-­person workshops and write­-ins throughout the month. 

11 Ways Parents Can Help Their Children Read

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 practical recommendations for helping preschoolers and school-age students learn to read.

Why We Need to Teach Reading and Writing

Many educators trumpet the idea of reading-writing relationships, emphasizing how close reading and writing are. As a teacher I was a big believer in this — my kids wrote every day, despite the lack of a report card space for writing, a writing curriculum, writing standards, or even any professional development on the topic. I strongly believed that when you taught writing, you were teaching reading.

Report Cards and Standards

From a teacher:

I wanted to ask your opinion regarding the structure of report cards for parents of students in grades 3-5. Understanding that ELA CCSS intertwines the areas of reading, language, spelling, writing, and moving toward creating district standards-based report cards in all K-5 grade levels, how do you think students' progress should be reported out to parents via report cards, as we transition? Would you recommend having an ELA grade on the report card or segregating particular areas as a stand alone grade?

Dear Mo Willems

Addie takes her mom on an exploration of her favorite author, Mo Willems. The exploration goes beyond his books and includes watching a Reading Rockets interview with Mo Willems and drawing him fan mail.


"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss