“The cat sat on the mat.
The fat cat sat on the mat.
The rat sat on the mat.
The fat cat sat on the mat.
The fat cat and the fat rat sat on the mat.”
“What are we working on today?” I inquired.
“I am practicing ‘the’,” was the earnest reply from the first grader.
“Can you show me where you see the word ‘the’?”
“All of them?” she queried as she pointed to two examples.
“They aren’t the same,” she added. “These begin with upper case and these begin with lower case.”
“Tell me more.” (falling back on that favorite response)
“These line up in a row,” pointing to the The in a vertical column. “And these don’t.”
“What did you learn in this story?” I asked.
“”That cats and rats can sit together,” was the response.
What was the goal?
I saw that the student practiced the page three times as directed and then recorded it onto the iPad on a fourth reading. It was flawless. Every word was pronounced correctly. The student stopped appropriately for end punctuation (periods) and it sounded okay . . . just a bit “sing-songingly” with an attempt to have some rhythm/intonation in the reading.
Is this reading?
What role does this have in reading?
What happens if this becomes a “major portion of a steady diet” for a reader?
Valinda Kimmel had a great post about Guided Reading here last week, “Why Does Guided Reading Get Top Billing?”. Please go read it and consider “WHERE” you believe the above reading work fits in.
Phonics, Spelling and Word Work?
In this instance, the student self-reported that this reading was her fluency practice that she has to do before Independent Reading. Short passage with words she knew. Focus was on sight words “and”, “the”, and “on” according to the posted learning targets.
Fluency has many definitions that include:
reading like an author intended with phrasing, intonation, accuracy, rate, and expression
but all contain some reference to “fluency to support comprehension”.
Fluency – one of the “Five Pillars” of reading from the National Reading Panel report.
And I digress . . . Or do I?
Have I switched topics from Phonics (the title) to Fluency now?
In the classroom next door, the learning target was “practice /at/ phonograms in text and decoding cvc words with short vowel sound made by a.
How did the practice support word work?
37 words total
the – 11 repetitions
on -5 repetitions
and – 1 appearance
/at/- 20 (cat – 4, sat – 5, mat – 5, fat – 4, rat – 2)
This is an example of “decodable” text. Some might call this “barking at print” because the text can be read but there is no deep meaning attached to the words, phrases, sentences or passage. Worse yet, this might be something a student would be required to read multiple times, quickly, without hesitation in 30 seconds or less to meet some pre-determined correct words per minute goal. (Fluency, Automaticity, Word Work in “connected text” might be ways this text would be named._
Phonics – this post listed Faux Pas from the past
A need for Due Diligence and understanding Reading Research was the focus here
and yet . . . doubt remains
Check out Stephen Krashen’s response as well . . .
Comments on Morning Edition, January 2, 2019, What is Wrong with the APM report . . .
“There is no evidence that “Millions of kids can’t read …”. But there is
overwhelming evidence that low reading ability is related to poverty, contrary to
the claim in American Public Media’s report.”
and Basic Phonics.
What do we need?
Increased clarity of purpose by teachers?
A potpourri of effective strategies and methodologies?
I celebrate the questions that lead informed conversations and decisions about the best instruction possible for students!
Alfie Kohn – phonics added! Link
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Letter – Sound Relationships
One part of learning to read
One part that serves the reader in his/her meaning making reading work!
Go read it. Bookmark it. Download it. Study it!
7 Pitfalls from the past . . .
How to teach phonics . . .
How not to teach phonics . . .
“Specific, Applicable Generalizations
Simplistic, broad generalizations or “rules” do not work. For example, if we say that silent e signals a long vowel sound all the time, then we have a lot of issues. But if the generalization is made more specific, it is more applicable. For example, the silent e pattern is consistent more than 75 percent of the time in a_e, i_e, o_e, and u_e, but only consistent 16 percent of the time with e_e.”
Details matter. The quote above came from #7 in the linked article. Perhaps you skimmed over that section. I believe it is probably one of the most critical sections. And in case you missed it, #7 is
7. Missing Essential Elements of Phonics Instruction
Teach Letter – Sound Relationships.
Check the research on teaching letter-sound relationships.
Check the instruction in your classrooms.
Then check the student learning.
What work with Letter-Sound relationships have your PLN’s been doing?
Arm yourself with knowledge!
How do you know what students understand about letter-sound relationships?
By their writing.
What do they use? How do they apply their knowledge?
Have you studied these? Utility of Phonics Generalizations
“If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, quacks like a duck . . . ”
probably a duck!
Unfortunately, there’s “Trouble in River City” as there are a ton of snake – oil salesmen who preach “Research says . . .”, “Research says . . .”, and “Research says . . .” who are “building on their own self-interests to increase fear and doubt in public schools and teachers. Every one who has attended a public school or not (Betsy DeVos to name one) has an opinion about education.
Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the fear mongering. Be BRAVE. Think. Exercise Due Diligence.
- Read the resources.
- Check the author’s credentials.
- Fact check the statements. (By the way when national normed tests are used, 100% of the population is not going to be successful. They would renorm the test and change the percentages. Assessment 101)
- Take a step back and ask yourself, “Is this even logical?”
- What do the researchers really say?
Research: What does every educator need to know? Please download Nell Duke’s document below and have it ready to email to teachers in your own community. Those you can listen to and respond to. Your community. Where you can also be proactive. Showcase what you are already doing and your own results.
A. Nell Duke – “10 Things to Know about Research” Today’s focus is on #9.
“9. Where and How Research Is Published or Presented Requires Particular Attention
Consider a particular news item and the range of different ways it is covered, for
example, by the New York Post, The New York Times, Newsweek, The Economist,
Fox News, or the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour. These sources will cover the same
story in substantially different ways. Similarly, literacy research in different
outlets, and by different writers, may be reported very differently . . .”
New York Times. NPR.
What is the goal of an author for those sources?
What is the type of information presented?
B. Instructional Practices Matter
Round robin reading is not OK. Neither is popcorn reading or “bump reading”. NOT.OK. NEVER! And “BUT my kids like it” is only an excuse and not an acceptable excuse. What should teachers be doing instead? Check out Evan Robb’s post here.
Do you have these three types of reading in upper elementary and secondary classrooms?
- Instructional Interactive Read Aloud
- Instructional Reading
- Independent Reading
In addition to Read Alouds?
C. Equity Matters
Regie Routman covers this beautifully in Literacy Essentials as it it one third of the content. Expectations matter for all learners. Check out this blog post – “9 Key Actions We Can and Must Take to Ensure Equity for All” link
“3. Become professionally knowledgeable. No shortcut here! Until we become highly knowledgeable as teachers of literacy—regardless of what subject we teach–we will always be seeking the “right” program, text, or expert to tell us exactly what to do. Equity for all requires that we teachers and leaders know relevant, research-based and principled literacy practices and how and when to apply those practices in all content areas.”
What do you believe and value?
How does that align with your professional knowledge?
D. Dear Media, Stop Misrepresenting Reading Instruction, Please link
Who does it profit?
“Here is a final note worth emphasizing: Phonics-intense and phonics-only reading instruction is a gold mine for textbook publishers, reading program shills, and the testing industry.
Consider carefully the who and why of public commentaries screeching about reading instruction, especially when the arguments are full of easily identifiable holes in their credibility and logic.”
Why are those who are NOT certified to teach so blindly convinced that they hold “THE ANSWER” to teaching reading?
There are many other great resources . . . blogs, facebook, and twitter.
THINK of that student in front of you!
What a year!
What does the data say?
My Top 5 Most Viewed Blog Posts of all time are:
Data analysis is interesting. Four of the five posts were in my top 5 all time last year. #2 this year is a new addition to the top 5. It leapfrogged to #2 by passing up three previous “all time” posts.
I continue to wonder if my OLD writing is more popular than my newer writing with two posts from 2013 in the top 5. “Or does the popularity mean that these posts are STILL topics/issues that present day literacy teachers are struggling with?” Maybe these are topics that I need to review during the course of the year. They are definitely already on my March Slicer “To Write About” list.
My Top 8 Posts (by the number of readers) out of the 109 posts that were written in 2018 were:
8. #SOL18: Lit Essentials – Regie Routman’s Literacy Essentials with an entire section dealing with Equity!
7. #TCRWP: 3 Tips – Patterns of Power (Jeff Anderson), Mentor Texts with Simone Frazier and Heart Maps with Georgia Heard
6. #SOL18: Reading Research – Is all reading research equal?
5. Bloom’s and Thinking – Reconceptualizing Bloom’s Taxonomy
4. #SOL18: March 25 – Updated Reprise of #3 above “Lexile Level is NOT Text Complexity (2013)
3. #NCTE18: Digging Deeper #1 – Kass Minor, Colleen Cruz & Cornelius Minor
2. #SOL18: March 15 – Barriers to Learning, Allington’s Six T’s, Student Progress
1.#SOL18: March 11 – Increasing Writing Volume
And this – Reading Research from the end of October and both a November post about NCTE and a December post can make it into the “Most Read in 2018” list within 4 – 8 weeks of the end of the year. So Interesting!
What patterns do you see?
Which topics did you find most compelling?
What work do you review annually or over even longer time frames?
Wrapping up Curious with a Focus on being Joyful for this first chance to CELEBRATE!
What was the first thing that came to mind when you saw that blog title?
Which emoji matches your thinking?
Reading the Research
that someone else has done?
Research about Reading?
These are not necessarily the same. So let’s explore just a bit. If I put “reading research” into “The Google” – this is what I get:
Think about it. 695,000,000 results and the first one that comes up is Reading Rockets. It’s a “.org” so I can breathe a sigh of relief. It’s not a commercial site so I don’t have to worry about ads or someone selling things. Reading Rockets link
How reputable is Reading Rockets?
Who runs it?
Where does the information come from?
What biases exist?
When would I use this site?
Some of those questions can be answered from the “About Page”. Some require a bit more clicking. The information is reasonable and the classroom strategies might be a source to use as a quick survey or “screen” of what’s available.
And just in case you did not click and go to Reading Rockets, here is part of their home page.
But is this a source you can trust?
. . . It depends.
What do you need? What are you looking for?
If instead I go to Google Scholar (which is on my toolbar for quick access), here’s what the same “reading research” search results look like.
The results are fewer. About 5,030,000. And the very first citation is the National Reading Panel Report from 2000. I can see the number of times this source has been cited as well as related articles. If you’ve moved on to a major eye roll because you did not need “Research 101′ in this blog post, just stop and think. How many of your peers know the difference? How many of your administrators know the difference? (And if you think it’s old, 2000, do remember that it was the last independently convened panel to study reading research . . . despite its flaws!) (Krashen, S. (2004) False claims about literacy development. Educational Leadership 61: 18-21. https://tinyurl.com/y9nhlmo7 )
Why does it matter?
If the solution to a questions is a Google search, I have just shown you the difference. Terms that are thrown around in the education world a lot are “research-based, evidence-based, and scientifically research-based.” And they are NOT without a great deal of controversy.
A Second Example
The following blog post was referenced on both Twitter and Facebook. Hmmm . . . sometimes nefarious social media platforms. Sometimes NOT. Sometimes a great source. In my farming background, again, how do we sort out the wheat from the chaff?
I don’t know Lindsay, but I do plan to find out if she will be at #NCTE18 to connect. DOL is one old, out-dated practice that has to stop. Over 50 years of research has proven that grammar instruction does NOT improve writing. Writing improves writing. Showcasing “golden sentences” in personal work and patterning writing after others. Some brilliant minds like Jeff Anderson and Dan Feigelson have published examples as well as many chapters in other books have research-based examples.
A Third Example
This list. Research-Based Programs
“Where did it come?
What criteria was used to curate the list?
Who developed the “protocol” that was used to evaluate the programs?
Where are the reviews/protocols of the programs on the list?
What can I learn from the URL?
What questions remain after a quick perusal of the list?
How do I find answers to these questions?”
Who do I turn to when I need answers? Who are my sources? Who are my most trusted sources? Who are my experts? Who are my “super-experts”?
One source that I can always trust is Dr. Nell Duke. Her article “10 Things Every Literacy Educator Should Know about Research” is a MUST READ. Every. Educator. in. EVERY. building. link
Tune in Thursday night to the #G2Great chat at 7:30 CST/ 8:30 EST for a lively conversation about just this topic. #BetterTogether
Per usual, my #OLW “Curious” brought me to this point. On October 2, 2013, I blogged about the research on the “Effectiveness of K-6 Supplementary Computer Reading Programs” here. Do those same considerations apply? Do you now have data that supports that those programs work for your students in your building? Or are you still in search of the one perfect program?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Another Resource: Link
Truth & Research: What to Consider Before Selecting Literacy Curriculum and Programs
The Straw Man aka Balanced Literacy is NOT Whole Language Link
Problems with the National Reading Panel Report – From the Teacher in the Room – Link
Disclaimer: The ideas in this blog are not novel. They are not original. They are appropriately “sourced” where credit can be applied. What is new / different / novel is perhaps the thinking that connects the ideas. Research-based.ideas! Student-centered.ideas! Many folks KNOW this. But do the teaching practices match the teacher beliefs?
Students need to read more in order to be better readers. Volume matters. (Richard Allington)
How can students read more?
A. Donalyn Miller – 40 book challenge
B. Book logs that keep track of books read. Compare lists over time.
C. Book lists kept by students that rate the books (scale of 1-5) and list genre.
D. Independent reading during class time followed up with time to talk about what was read.
Which ones of these have you tried and abandoned?
Did they work for awhile but then student interest seemed to wane and it seemed like students were “cheating” and recording books that they really hadn’t read? Or perhaps books that students began to read but when the going got tough, the books were abandoned?
Did you REALLY understand the goal / purpose behind that undertaking? Did you read the book behind the practice pushed into the classroom? Participate in a book study? Or did you find the pages on Pinterest or TPT and “try it” as a pilot with a high degree of skepticism.
If you went to the link above for Donalyn Miller’s 40 book challenge and read and even digested that post, you read these two paragraphs.
“The 40 Book Challenge isn’t an assignment you can simply add to outdated, ineffective teaching practices. The Book Challenge rests on the foundation of a classroom reading community built on research-based practices for engaging children with reading. Assigning a 40 Book Challenge as a way to generate grades or push children into reading in order to compete with their classmates corrupts everything I have written and said about reading. The 40 Book Challenge is meant to expand students’ reading lives, not limit or define it.
The 40 Book Challenge is a personal challenge for each student, not a contest or competition between students or classes. In every competition or contest there are winners and losers. Why would we communicate to our students that they are reading losers? For some students, reading 40 books is an impossible leap from where they start as readers, and for others, it’s not a challenge at all.”
This is just a small piece of Donalyn’s 40 book challenge. Reading one blog, one tweet, or attending one hour long session at a conference is not enough for deep learning. But it is enough to whet your appetite. Your appetite for life-long learning as well as your yearning for a solution that makes sense to you, your students, and your community will grow. Your appetite may lead to a mini action research cycle as you implement a research-based strategy in your classroom.
A week ago a friend of mine asked on Twitter: “Does anyone have a genre chart they can share to encourage strong readers’ growth?” And Dayna had several results immediately.
Steve shared this:
and Julieanne shared this:
I immediately drooled over both and wondered about combining them and adding
- Quarter 1 Goal ________________
- Quarter 2 Goal ________________
- Quarter 3 Goal ________________
- Quarter 4 Goal ________________
and then Steve added that his students also do this quarterly in google slides:
Why is this important?
Dayna Wells (@daywells) a principal in California asked the question. Two 5th grade teachers replied. Steve Peterson (@inside the dog) from Iowa and Julieanne Harmatz (@jarhartz) from California. Teachers collaborating online to share their practices. (And of course commercial #107 for WHY you really should have a professional Twitter account! ) Because if you followed them on Twitter, you would also know that they all three blog as well and you would have access to additional resources about / from each of them! (Commercial #108 for Twitter)
Relevance? What do you measure?
Matt Renwick (@ReadByExample), a public school administrator in Wisconsin, believes that “volume” is not enough for reading goals in his January 1, 2017 post “I didn’t meet my reading goal (and is that okay?)”. Goodreads said, “Better luck in 2017.” But his reading was rich. And look at all the qualities that Goodreads did include in their report as compiled by Kendra Grant:
If you go back to answer choices A, B, C, and D above, how do those match up with the goodreads list. I think 5 of the 7 data points are easily covered. Do you NEED 5 data points? Maybe. Maybe not. Do you need ALL 7 data points? Maybe. Maybe not. It all depends upon the ultimate goal of your independent reading.
Who our students are?
Who our students might become as readers?
What’s the ultimate goal?
Is the purpose for a reading goal . . . to hold a student accountable for what they read? Or provide proof that they read and understood and (gasp) remembered a boatload of details to answer a quiz?
Or is the purpose of the reading goal to provide an opportunity to NURTURE a love for reading? And to encourage / nudge EVERY student to become an avid reader? See “Let’s Not Kill the Love of Reading” by Dr. Tony Sinanis (@TonySinanis).
Is the purpose to make sure that the teacher is helping all students to “BECOME a reader” (Thank you, Dr. Mary Howard – @DrMaryHoward) ?
What data do you need?
The data needs to match your ultimate goal AND the needs of the students. Are you thinking, “OK, I can keep doing what I have been doing?”
2. “Students do not need:
Programs / contests that provide extrinsic reward
Packets of activities”
Why are they missing?
Section 2 of the table of contents is included so you can see the practices that support increased student achievement.
“SECTION 2: WHY NOT? WHAT WORKS?
Why Independent Reading Matters and the Best Practices to Support It, Barbara Moss
- Does Independent Reading Influence Student Achievement?
- If We Know Independent Reading Is Effective, Why Don’t We Do It?
- A New Reason for Independent Reading: The Common Core State Standards
- What Practices Are Critical for Effective Independent Reading?
- Why Independent Reading Matters Most for Striving Readers and English Learners
- The Last Word: An Overview of Independent Reading Implementation by Teachers
Need more evidence? Check out “Three Keys to Creating Successful Reading Experiences” by Pernille Ripp (1/4/2017) and “Revisiting My One Classroom Non-Negotiable” by Christina Nosek.
YOU MUST . . .
- stop wasting students’ time,
- stop assigning “activities” in the name of accountability,
- make sure that anything you
askrequire students to do is that which YOU are willing to do as well in your own independent reading life.
DO YOU . . .
- keep a log?
- set goals?
- reflect on your goals?
- meet your goals?
- discuss how you feel about your reading?
- review the text complexity of your own reading?
Do your personal practices match your instructional practices?
You MUST utilize some “lens” or filter to sort out resources.
These are NOT all equal. A single number is NOT a goal!
How does your goal match your purpose? What are you REALLY measuring?
Process Goal for this Post:
Combine tweets; google docs, drawings, and slides; blog posts, books and Voxer conversations for a blog post with at least eight links for the reader to peruse and consider as they reflect upon whether their current teaching practices SUPPORT increased student reading! (And thanks to Dayna, Steve, Julieanne, Mary, Christina, Matt, Tony, Donalyn, Debbie and Barbara for the wonderful way that their work supports each other!)
Kylene Beers facebook post about lifetime readers!
This summer is a FEAST of professional development for me. I had the great fortune of being accepted for two weeks of learning at TCRWP for Writing and Reading Institutes. (You can check out my public learning log under the “Recent Posts” at the right.) Next weekend I will be in St. Louis for ILA.
How are you preparing for your learning?
What information do you need to KNOW before you look at specific sessions?
Do you look for specific PEOPLE?
Do you look for specific TOPICS?
Here’s the link to the 16 page preview guide pictured above.
I used the search tool to create a DRAFT LIST of those I know that I MUST see.
Chris Lehman – Sunday, Writing from Sources is more than. . .”The Text Says”
Jennifer Serravello – Sunday, Accountability, Agency, and Increased Achievement in Independent Reading
Nell Duke – Saturday, A Project-Based Place
Lester Laminack, Linda Rief, and Kate Messner – Saturday, The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Text to Teach the Craft of Writing
Penny Kittle and Donalyn Miller – Sunday, Complex, Rigorous and Social: Fostering Readerly Lives
and then added in others previously marked in the program:
Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan – They are authors of the book Assessment in Perspective: Focusing on the Reader Behind the Numbers.
Dana Johansen and Sonja Cherry-Paul – Preconference Institute – Friday, Reading with Rigor: Interpreting Complex Text Using Annotation and Close Reading Strategies
Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins – They are the authors of Reading Wellness. Check out a bit of their work here.
Kylene Beers and Bob Probst – Notice and Note and Nonfiction version to be out in October.
Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey – Many, many ELA texts involving Gradual Release of Responsibility
Other faves that I hope to see at ILA15 include: Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse – What Readers Really Do; Dr. Mary Howard – Good to Great; and ANY and ALL TCRWP folks!
Any Two Writing Teacher Slicers? – please say hello in person!
Any #G2Great chatters?
Any #TCRWP afficionados?
I’m ready to rename ILA15 as “Gateway to the STARS!” as I look at this line up of literacy greats. What great learning opportunities and I’m still at the pre-planning stage. (Maybe I will find Hermione’s secret so that I can be in at least two locations at the same time!)
Who would you add to this list?
What are informational texts?
The Common Core State Standards include the following in their definition of informational texts:
biographies and autobiographies; “books about history, social studies, science, and the arts”; “technical texts, including directions, forms, and information displayed in graphs, charts, or maps”; and “digital sources on a range of topics” (p. 31).
That’s a broad range so what does that really mean? Sources that can inform your work include:
Research and Policy: Informational Texts and the Common Core Standards: What Are We Talking about, Anyway? by Beth Maloch and Randy Bomer
6 Reasons to Use Informational Text in the Primary Grades – Scholastic, Nell Duke
The Case for Informational Text – Educational Leadership, Nell Duke
Where can I find lists of Mentor Texts?
Award winning lists include:
Mentor Texts to Support the Writers’ Workshop (Literature and Informational Texts)
This list supports writers’ workshop. Others are readily available on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers.
What about professional books to help me with Mentor Texts and Informational Writing?
Nonfiction Mentor Texts: Teaching Informational Writing through Children’s Literature K-8 by Lynne Dorfman and Rose Capeli (website)
The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing by Ruth Culham (Chapter 3)
Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling and Mentor Texts by Kelly Gallagher (Chapters 3 and 5)
Mentor Authors, Mentor Texts: Short Texts, Craft Notes and Practical Classroom Uses by Ralph Fletcher
Finding the Heart of Nonfiction: Teaching 7 Essential Craft Tools with Mentor Texts by Georgia Heard
and many grade level texts in the separate Units of Study of Writing by Lucy Calkins and friends at TCRWP.
What do I do with the books that I am considering as mentor texts?
Your number one task is to Read informational texts that you also like. And then your second task is to read these books from the lens of a writer. Identify techniques that the author uses very successfully. Third, talk with other teachers about the techniques and goals! To get started consider these helpful blog posts: A brilliantly written blog post on the use of a mentor text during a co-teaching instruction session by Melanie Meehan can be found in this post “Slice of Life Exploring a Fabulous Mentor Text” on the Two Reflective Teachers blog. Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris list “Our Top Eleven Nonfiction Books for Teaching . . . Everything!” here! Clare and Tammy at Teachers for Teachers also have a post titled “Two Great Nonfiction Mentor Texts”. Tara Smith writes routinely about texts. “Mentor Texts” is a recent one. Two Writing Teachers: mentor text archive (You can also search any of the above blogs for additional posts about Mentor Texts!) And three from my blog archives: Reading and Writing Instruction – Paired Mentor Texts #TCRWP Day 3: Information Mentor Texts (based on Alexis Czeterko’s (@AlexisCzeterko ) Closing Workshop “Five Mentor Texts for Information Writing – and Ways to Use Them with Power”) #SOL14: Writing Techniques and Goals