Blog Posts

17 September, 2017

How to Teach Fluency So That It Takes

Teacher question: I have a question regarding my school's reading program. My question today is about the reading portion of our literacy block and most specifically the partner reading and independent reading. I'm finding that my homogenous group of fourth-grade students aren’t fluent readers. The routine expectation is that partners take turns reading a paragraph at a time. The partner who is following along and not reading aloud is to provide a brief summary of what was read by the partner before reading the next paragraph. I love this, except that my students aren't fluent readers, so I feel that first the comprehension ...

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10 September, 2017

Is Morphology Training Better Than Phonics Instruction?

Man, sometimes when you publish a blog entry you’d wish you stayed in bed. You hope to write something that someone will find useful. But the responses might make you feel more like you’ve been dropped onto the set of Fox News or MSNBC. Recently, I’ve experienced some interesting responses. For example: Studies show that phonemic awareness (PA) training helps young kids learn to read (PreK through Grade 1). From those studies, I claimed we should teach PA to the point where kids can fully segment words into their individual phonemes. This conclusion was based both on the experimental impacts of training studies and ...

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03 September, 2017

Does One-Size-Fits-All Reading Instruction Work for Everyone Part II

 The Learner Characteristic that Leads to Different Learning       Last week, I pointed out that research had found few interactions in literacy learning. That is, research hasn't actually uncovered many situations in which different kinds of kids learn differently—despite many claims to the contrary.       The idea that research would identify important aptitude-treatment interactions has been trumpeted for a long time (Cronbach & Snow, 1977). It just hasn’t panned out, for the most part, when it comes to reading instruction.       Individual differences are extensive in reading—and in lots of variables that have a big impact upon learning (e.g., IQ, SES, ...

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27 August, 2017

Does One-Size-Fits-All Reading Instruction Work for Everyone

Someone put a bug in my ear, and I started writing, and by the time I was done, I had two blogs rather than one. I'll set the table with this one, and bring it to conclusion next time.        One of the best things about research is that it can let the wind out of windbags and force some hard thinking. Our field suffers fatuous pronouncements as much as any. An example?       How about the constant drumbeat concerning the failure of “one size fits all” instructional approaches? Seemingly, everybody agrees with that one.     I typed the terms ...

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20 August, 2017

A Spirited Reaction to One District's Approach to Standards-Based Reading Instruction

Teacher question: My district has moved into an approach of asking teachers to locate materials for standards-based instruction.  They have opted to create assessments to isolate individual standards to teach/test each standard individually. Each assessment is named by reading standard and is associated with grade-level English Language Arts courses. What thoughts do you have on how I might guide them to move from assessing isolated standards to a more integrated approach?  Shanahan response: Research has made it pretty clear that it is not possible to assess any of the individual standards so spending time on as your district is doing is a fool’s errand. Whatever scores or ratings ...

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13 August, 2017

Can I Still Rely on the National Reading Panel Report?

Teacher question: I coordinate reading interventions for my district. I have been told to stop referring to the National Reading Panel, as it is old and no longer relevant. Our universal screener is based on the 5 components of reading, and our basal interventions are also aligned to the "big 5". I don't think there is any way for me to stop referencing the NRP. Would you please comment? Shanahan's response:  That’s about as dopey as it gets.   The National Reading Panel reviewed a great deal of empirical study in the late 1990s (we published the NRP Report in 2000). There was not a ...

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06 August, 2017

Scaffolding the Reading of Seventh-Grade English Learners: How Much is too Much?

Teacher question: I currently teach English as a Second Language to grades 6-8. Next year I will have high beginners, many of whose spring MapR reading scores are in the K-1 range (153-165), and many of whom had interrupted education in their home countries. Where I teach your work is cited as the basis for a requirement that we give all students, regardless of their ESOL level, grade-level texts in English in ESOL class.   While I am OK with scaffolding up 3 or 4 grade levels, I think the gap between readers at a K or 1 level and a 7th-grade ...

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30 July, 2017

Don't Let Content Area Reading Experts Confuse You About Disciplinary Literacy

About the queries: Twice in the past couple of weeks I’ve heard about an article that directly challenges ideas I’ve published on Disciplinary Literacy (Dunkerly-Bean, J., & Bean, T. (2016). Missing the savoir for the connaissance: Disciplinary and content area reading as regimes of truth. Journal of Literacy Research, 48(4), 448-476.) My first contact on that said that I needed to respond somehow. I demurred not thinking it mattered much. Then, this week someone wrote saying that obviously, we don’t need to teach disciplinary literacy since there is no such thing—we can just keep doing what we have been doing with ...

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23 July, 2017

Everything You Wanted to Know about Repeated Reading

We’re in the dog days of summer. Not many questions coming in right now—normal for periods when schools aren’t in session. But the following query came to me this week from Ireland came to me this week via Twitter—showing that it isn’t only the President using that network (which also made me notice that my questioner spelled all the words right). Teacher question: Any link to how the 'Repeated Reading' strategy works? How long text can be repeated, how long can text be, depends on accuracy?  Shanahan response: This is such a basic question that I was gobsmacked by it. These are just the ...

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15 July, 2017

Phonics for English Learners? What Do You Think?

Teacher question:                   I am interested in understanding how phonemic awareness and phonics can support students who do not have a structure for learning the English language. For example, English Language Learners who have no structure for language in their home language or in English. If you can suggest resources that address this matter I would be so grateful.    Shanahan response:                   The research on these aspects of second-language literacy learning is limited. However, the research that has been done indicates that English learners clearly benefit from explicit instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics for English reading (Shanahan & Beck, 2006).                   That ...

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