I’m pretty sure that the steam rising from my poor computer is clearly visible on all coasts. It’s been rising for awhile but I was determined to really focus more on narratives as I sliced this month.
But life interfered.
I applauded this tweet a week ago.
A reputable reading researcher.
I’ve talked about Dr. Nell Duke and research before.
She’s my “go to” when I need the details on research.
But then all this other gobbledy gook stuff comes up. Pseudo – journalists who, after 2.5 years of studying “the science of reading” bless it as the ONLY way to teach reading and now are having webinars on Edweek, radio shows, and articles purporting to tell teachers how to teach reading.
How to debunk the malarkey?
Start with P. L. Thomas’s “The Big Lie about the ‘Science of Reading'” here.
It’s an amazing article that debunks the whole issue.
And if you need additional reading material, here’s a direct plea for media also by Thomas.
Here is where the journalist said she did not have to report both sides – link
Because these are the journalist’s sources:
http://pamelasnow.blogspot.com/…/an-open-letter-to… “These “authorities” on teaching reading 1) pre-service teacher 2) teacher in his 4th year of teaching. The other link is a professor’s blog in Australia about their pre-service program.”
Sources for the condition of reading in the U.S.
Consider the source.
Is the person even in the field of education? What are their credentials? What is the source of their data?
The future of our children literally depends on all teachers.
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily March forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Administrator Webinar: How to communicate the need for evidence-based practices from the What Works Clearinghouse Link
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!
I wrote about Reading Research here and Dr. Mary Howard capped our #G2Great chat with this post on 11.03.18. As I reviewed the #NCTE18 program in the weeks before the conference, I thought about my “research filter” and the sessions available. I also thought about previous conferences and this post. What factors would drive my decisions about sessions to attend?
Before I even arrived in Houston, I had perused the app and added many of my favorites to my list. At first glance about half of our crowd-sourced experts would be present.
“Richard Allington; Donald Graves; Don Murray; Peter Johnston; Marie Clay; John Hattie; P David Pearson;Lucy Calkins; Tom Newkirk; Taffy Rafael; Nell Duke; Ken and Yetta Goodman; Louise Rosenblatt;Kylene Beers; Bob Probst; Carol Lyons;Ellin Keene; Donalyn Miller; Kathy Collins; Fountas and Pinnell; Stephen Krashen;Stephanie Harvey; Regie Routman; Debbie Miller;Jennifer Serravallo; Gravity Goldberg; Kate Roberts; Maggie Roberts; Ralph Fletcher; Nancie Atwell; Penny Kittle; Kelly Gallagher; Kara Pranikoff;Dave Stuart Jr.; Cornelius Minor; Katie Wood Ray; Anne Goudvis; Georgia Heard; Jan Burkins; Kim Yaris; Susan Zimmerman “(Literacy Lenses 11.03.18)
And I added others:
Tom Marshall, Kari Yates, Christina Nosek, Clare Landrigan, Tammy Mulligan, Lester Laminack, Colleen Cruz, Justin Dolcimascolo, Jess Lifshitz, Jeff Anderson, Smokey Daniels, Sara Ahmed, Carl Anderson, Ruth Ayres, Stacey Shubitz, Katherine Bomer, Donna Santaman, Dorothy Barnhouse #BowTieBoys, #TeachWrite, Lynne Dorfman and Rose Capelli. (Representational list and not meant to exclude anyone.) And then there were teachers, authors, poets, “Slicers” and friends as presenters.
What was the reality?
With luck, I would be able to choose about 15 sessions.
The names above represented about 65 sessions.
I had four time slots with five possible sessions to attend. Without Hermione Granger’s “time-turner” that was not going to happen. So how was I going to make decisions? What would I use as my filters?
Research-Based Decision-Making Filter
Why was I interested in research? I wanted the best quality experience that #NCTE18 had! Research, classroom-based and empirical has always fascinated me. I’m pretty picky about my educational research. I believe in being an “informed educator” as espoused by Nell Duke and Nicole Martin’s 10 Things Every Literacy Educator Should Know about Research. The work presented at #NCTE18 would be research-based. Much would not be research-tested. It is easy to get lost in the misrepresentation and misuse of research. Of course, there are limitations. But one only has to read this gorgeous new text by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp to connect with the research about the need for book access for all! And just like a book and movie pairing – I want to read the book before hearing Colby and Donalyn talk any more about it – so one decision made!
I was pretty sure that sessions at #NCTE18 would not be guilty of these misleading uses of research that Mary Howard listed in her blog post.
“Citing research to sell products
Citing research to justify practices
Citing questionable research to support an agenda
Citing flawed and outdated research”
But I do want to remind you that some national conferences have sessions that seem to be at cross-purposes with the beliefs and values listed for the conference! Careful reading of program descriptors and sponsors is always a good idea.
How would I use research as a filter?
One of my criteria for session selection was NEW and recent work, perhaps something that has become an addendum or just a continuing evolution since the last book was published or their July #ILA18 presentation. That was the purpose behind my attendance at both Responsive Teaching: The Courage to Follow the Lead of the Reader and Capacity – Based Writing: Instruction Empowers Students – Deconstructing the Struggling Writer Label while Championing Inclusive Practices. I knew some individual pieces of their work and wanted to see how the “presentation package” brought in the research, the work with students, and increased my knowledge.
What other criteria did I use?
Who have I not seen lately? So after spending an entire day with Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher and 350+ best friends in Iowa in October, 300 minutes . . . Was I going to try to catch them as a part of a 75 minute panel? . . .
Ellin Keene was with Debbie Miller in July at #ILA18, so I heard about her new book there after reading it.
Have I already registered to see them at CCIRA in Denver in February? There are another 10 slots or so where I will see presenters alone . . . no panels, no roundtables, just the speaker and a room full of learners. And with preregistration everyone should have a seat.
Where are there gaps in my knowledge base? This question led me to sessions about equity, mentor texts, and literacy mentors on Friday. And then there was the second session about the 4th edition of the Handbook of Research on Teaching of the English Language Arts.
Am I under-utilizing available resources? Of course that led to the featured student panel, the ubiquitous #BowTieBoys that I heard three times at #NCTE17, and #TeachWrite friends.
Will I be able to make it to the room in time to actually be in the room for the program? We tried five different sessions on Thursday and ALL were overcrowded and packed with “bouncers” on the door to keep additional attendees out. Many times the lack of seating in the room was a decision point as well. Sometimes I deliberately chose a session that I believed would have fewer attendees.
#NCTE18 often had over 60 sessions per time slot. That means there were many choices. Some might even argue that there were too many choices. However, 7,000 + attendees had to be somewhere so “choice” of sessions is crucial. I believe that filters to sort out expertise and research wer helpful for me when I had to make final decisions about the sessions where I would learn the most. And the sessions that I was curious about. And the sessions that challenge me to stretch and grow!
How do you make decisions about competing sessions?
What criteria do you use?
What criteria will you consider at your next conference?
Sad Sunday Smashing Slashing Schemes
Sad, it’s the last day of #NCTE18
Sunday, wow, really? It’s easy to lose track of the days!
Smashing! Great line up of sessions. Still difficult to choose!
Slashing! That was the session back in the dungeon, in the back, back, back, under the auditorium.
Schemes! Already plotting for #NCTE19
The final general session with twins, Peter and Paul Reynolds. Gifted artists. Gifted story tellers. Gifted. And what a gift to us! Peter read two books to us. The Word Collector and Say Something. Treasured moments! So much to learn from all of those around us and we do need to share our voices.
What’s New in the 4th Edition of the Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts
This was my second session (ILA the first) about this book. Critical ideas that teachers and administrators need to be aware of and discussing.
And on assessment: YOWZA!
I’m researching more information about #affectiveassessmentsmatter and Comprehensive Reader Portraits through Career Dream Drawing Assessment. Talk about relevance for students! (UK parallel research link)
And a quick vocab note: Bill Nagy, quoted by Susan Watts-Taffe University of Cincinnati, “There is no magic list of vocabulary words. Cohesion around kinds of cohesion is helpful. Thematic work with vocab offers significant practice. It’s about what you do with the list.”
Breathe New Life into your Writing Instruction: Practical Roundtables that Will Push Your Writing Further
Kidblogging – Joy Writing Through Student Blogging with Margaret Simon and
connecting with Teach Write friends. First F2F meeting with Leigh Ann. YAY!
And as the conference wound down, one last social event Sunday evening with some #G2Great friends!
What’s next on your creating list?
Where will you go?
What will you learn?
And with whom?
Thank you, NCTE!
In case you have not been following along, here are the links to #NCTE18 . . .
#NCTE18 Bound #G2Great
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
The heat and summer weather continues but visions of classrooms are filling many heads as teachers and students begin the final stretch of “vacation” and “It’s the last time, I can . . . this summer” routines.
I attended a research round table at #ILA18 in Austin and posted the first side of the hand out from one 15 minute segment about Chapter 16, “It is About Time for Comprehensive Language Arts Instruction (We’ve Tried Everything Else!)” in this post.
I’m still reading.
How will those “8 Components” be implemented?
Well, that was side two of the handout and some brief discussion. This post is going to focus on just three of the 8 sections on implementation. (The numbering is mine so that I could keep the sections in order.)
The first implementation I am highlighting was the first on the page.
- Make Time for Self-Selected Reading and Teacher Read-aloud
- Replace “morning work” with self-selected reading
- Reduce time for “packing up” and end the day with self-selected reading
- Read aloud to children during “snack time”
- Read topic-related books and magazine articles aloud in subject areas
Four different options for “making time” were listed.
Will one of those work for you? Which one? More than one?
If your students need to increase their reading volume, time is an issue. How can you ensure that they will have more time to read? What is within your control? How are your priorities visible for yourself, your students, and your entire learning community?
The second implementation:
4. Teach Handwriting along with High-Frequency Words
- Focus students on each letter during high-frequency word learning by integrating it with handwriting instruction
Sight Words? High-Frequency Words?
What are you having students learn and why?
How will you know that students have learned the words?
I’m a believer that sight words are “known” when they are used and spelled correctly in writing. Not just the quick, fast recognition for reading but also the accurate recall and correct spelling when the words are written. Part of the practice to get the word into long-term memory can be handwriting. What a win/win for students!
And what a way to achieve my goal: No more students spelling “said” as /sed/ because that is the way it sounds!!!
And for today, the final and perhaps most important recommendation . . .
8. Stop Doing Things We Know Don’t Matter
- Stop doing activities, skills or lessons in traditional grammar
- Stop teaching cursive handwriting
- Stop teaching dictionary location skills
This last section is probably the most critical in my thinking. Why on earth do we keep doing “stuff” that we know either a) is not effective? or b) does not matter?
Here’s the link to the document (both pages).
How will this inform your instruction?
What conversations do you need to have prior to sweeping changes?
How will you know if you are using time wisely?
How will you continue to “check in” on your own use of time?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
What a blast! So much learning! So many new friends! So much talent! AAAAAAMMMMMAAAAZZZZIIIIINNNNNGGGGGG!!!!!!!!
I had the distinct pleasure and privilege of having a “split” schedule during the 2017 August Writing Institute so I was learning from Shana Frazin (grades 3-8 emphasis) in the mornings and Shanna Schwartz (K-2 emphasis) in the afternoons. The content aligned a lot but the stars were in perfect alignment on Friday when a chunk of time in both sections was focused on editing!
Editing can become a “hot button” topic pretty quickly as many teachers have strong beliefs around the fact that “kids need to write in complete sentences” AKA “Kids need to write in complete sentences with capital letters at the beginning and terminal punctuation.” Capital letters (K) and ending punctuation (1) are in the learning progressions and are a part of instruction. This post is not going to hypothesize about why those skills/strategies/habits don’t appear to transfer across genres or grades and why students in MS and beyond don’t seem to “use” what they have been taught. That’s a great conversation to pair with adult beverages face-to-face!
Editing: What’s Working? What’s Not Working?
There are so many components to “editing”: spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization that blanket statements about the effectiveness of instruction are difficult to accurately tease out. In general the research has been clear that the effects of isolated drill in traditional grammar instruction has had negative effects on improving the quality of writing. (Steve Graham)
So what can we use? Try? Test out in our own classrooms?
One FUN method used by this author is editing sticks and you can read more about those clear sticks here. Students can work on the MEANING, or purpose for punctuation, as well as explore how the meaning changes with these editing sticks.
Shana Frazin proposed editing stations and even demonstrated small group instruction to work on editing skills around commas. The students in the group used “checklist strips” straight from the WUoS to determine whether they had commas in their current piece of writing, and then they checked their comma use against the purposes for using commas in the information writing unit. If they didn’t use commas, they were then adding commas into their continued writing during that small group work.
Because “run-on sentences” are listed for fifth grade in the progressions, I chose to use 5th grade as a target grade level to tackle the “I can fix run-on sentences” from the editing checklist.
Here’s the task card I drafted:
Some practice sentences:
Here’s one tool (idea from Shana Frazin):
Here’s a second student tool ( 3 x 5 post-it matching the task card):
This still feels “Drafty-Drafty” as it shows two types of run-on sentences from student work. Run-on sentences with zero conjunctions. Run-on sentences with too many conjunctions or “Scotch Tape Words”. The easiest way to develop a task card or tool would be to check the full range of WUoS and see what work is already built into the units around run-on sentences. That “go to” response could save hours of angst and searching for solutions outside the resources!
(Unfortunately I did NOT have the entire set of books in my dorm room in NYC to peruse!)
Here’s what I heard Shanna Schwartz say in our K-2 session:
“Light editing could occur during every writing workshop session in second grade.”
This is not about being mean and telling students they have to “FIX” their writing every day before they can write anything else. This is not about REQUIRING students to EDIT every session.
This is one idea. This is one way that editing might go in order to build up habits that lead to being a stronger, more confident writer.
PLAN: “Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Look at the writing that you have done today. I want you to read back over it and look for ‘x”. I am going to set the timer for one minute. Read back over your writing for one minute and then you may continue writing.”
Parsing / Processing (What did I see and hear?):
- Light editing – 1 minute required
- It’s a short break with a minimal disruption to the writing flow but yet it underscores the importance of YOU, the author, rereading your work in order to fix this one thing.”
- Respectful – “second grade writers”
- Time limited – 1 minute. Could extend a bit longer if the student is really “fixing something. But if it interferes with writing production, that will create a different issue during writing workshop sessions.
What might these skills be?
- Something that has previously been taught.
- Something that has previously been assessed.
- Something from earlier grade level progressions.
- Something that is a necessary foundation skill.
- Something that is not sticking for the majority of the class so the first use of editing minutes will be whole class.
“Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Look at the writing that you have done today. I want you to read back over it and check for capital letters at the beginning of every sentence . . . ” (Set the timer for one minute.) (K)
“Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Look at the writing that you have done today. I want you to read back over it and check that you have put punctuation ( . ! ? ) at the end of your sentences. Reread and check . . . ” (Set the timer for one minute.) (1st)
“Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Choose three words from the word wall. Look at the writing that you have done today. I want you to read back over it and check your writing to make sure that you have spelled those three words correctly . . . ” (Set the timer for one minute.)
“Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Look at the writing that you have done today. We have been working with word endings in word study. Read back over your writing and check your words for the endings “er”, “ed”, and/or “ing and make sure those endings are spelled correctly . . . ” (Set the timer for one minute.)
How many editing goals?
I would hope and Shanna suggested that students would have ONE editing goal at a time. The student needs to work on this targeted goal until he/she is able to complete it independently. Practice is definitely required before strategies will become a habit. That’s why this skill needs to be practiced multiple times in order for the student to be able to complete it!
The more visible you can make the editing goal the better! You will be watching for this goal during conferences, small group instruction and in the student’s independent work. Once you see a “body of evidence” you will move this goal to the Accomplishment Board where the post it / goal card goes in the pocket by student name like the one posted below.
How are you currently “teaching” editing in the Writing Units of Study?
What might you strengthen?
What might you add?