• You Are What You Read

    You Are What You Read

    Since the end of another school year is approaching, you may be expecting an annual post about the importance of summer reading as it relates to student progress. As a proponent of reading during all seasons of the year, I heartily endorse reading during the summer months for students as well as teachers. However, I am hoping that this post will inspire you to examine the influence that reading has had in your own life as well as the potential influence that reading can have in the lives of your students over the course of a lifetime.

    Have you ever stopped to think about the influence that reading has had on your life? I mean, have you really contemplated the effect that reading has had on your personality, your day to day actions, and/or your beliefs? Consider it. To expedite your introspection, here is the dictionary definition of the word influence: ...

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    May 21 2013
  • Top 3 Challenges Facing Teachers & Educators

    Top 3 Challenges Facing Teachers & Educators

    For 29 years the insurance company MetLife has been surveying teachers across America to identify challenges involved in public school education. In the fall of 2012, one thousand K-12 public school teachers (with an average of 15 years of experience) and 500 principals participated in the survey. Data from the latest survey was published in February of this year. It may not come as a surprise that teachers are concerned about decreased budgets, meeting the needs of diverse learners, and engaging parents and the community in the education of children.

    Here are some highlights from the report: ...

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    May 14 2013
  • Are “Third Grade Reading Guarantees” the Solution to Low Reading Scores?

    Are “Third Grade Reading Guarantees” the Solution to Low Reading Scores?

    “We’ll have to get bigger desks.” “Third graders will be sporting beards.” “It’s about time teachers’ feet are held to the fire.” These are just some responses elicited by proposals to retain students who are not reading on grade level by the end of their third grade year. Third Grade Reading Guarantees have recently been legislated in as many as 13 states in an effort to improve students’ readiness to ‘read to learn’ in grades 4-12. Spurred on with the statistic that 74% of students who are poor readers in third grade continue to struggle in ninth grade (Francis, Shaywitz, Stuebing, Shaywitz, & Fletcher, 1996), policy makers are leading the charge to eliminate the problem. ...

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    May 07 2013
  • 8 Classroom Accommodations for Dyslexic Students (That Benefit ALL Students)

    8 Classroom Accommodations for Dyslexic Students (That Benefit ALL Students)

    Our Dyslexia Specialist/Teacher Trainer, Shantell Berrett, has a favorite saying she always tells teachers when teaching them how to help struggling readers (including those with dyslexia): “It is far more about the process than the content.”

    The strong right brain of dyslexic students offers them many unique strengths, however, tasks that require a set process to be accomplished (and hence, a dominant left brain) are much more difficult for dyslexic students – including language tasks. Despite the obstacle that this presents, it provides valuable insights into how to improve the process that information is taught. Dyslexic students require a clear process in order to understand many concepts (especially how to read) – but, clear instruction is beneficial for every student. ...

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    Apr 12 2013
  • The Rules of the English Language: Is There a Method to the Madness?

    The Rules of the English Language: Is There a Method to the Madness?

    Happy National Poetry Month! This poem is a poem that was written by Lord Cromer of England in 1902. It highlights some of the inconsistencies that seem to exist between spoken and written words in the English language.

    English is not a static language. Historically, it has been shaped and changed over the years by numerous political, social, and multicultural influences. Sometimes the change in a word is in the way it is pronounced, like the word sword wherein the ‘w’ used to be heard. Sometimes the change in a word (or words) is in the spelling, like in the words come, son, and love which used to be spelled with the vowel ‘u’ (until the Normans replaced it with an ‘o’ when it preceded the letters m, n, and v because a series of similar-looking letters was difficult to read). Webster changed the spelling of mould to mold and also dropped the ‘u’ in words like color and labor. Shakespeare himself was purported to coin over 1,700 words (Crystal, 2006) of which over half still exist today (e.g. bandit, daunting, laughable, and swagger).

    It’s no wonder that teachers and students can become overwhelmed and confused with some English words. However, there is good reason to take heart. ...

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    Mar 29 2013
  • 4 Tricks for Helping Students Correct b/d Letter Reversals

    4 Tricks for Helping Students Correct b/d Letter Reversals

    This blog post is brought to you by the lowercase letters b and d. They look so similar that you can see where confusion occurs for beginning readers and writers. Letter reversals are frequently seen in the writings of K-2nd grade students whose orthographic representation of each letter is not fully developed. Students who have not properly … ...

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    Mar 12 2013
  • The Research-Based Gap Between Perceived vs. Actual Ability in Teaching Reading

    The Research-Based Gap Between Perceived vs. Actual Ability in Teaching Reading

    In the world of psychology there is a phenomenon called “The Illusion of Explanatory Depth.” In their article on the phenomenon, Rozenblit and Keil (2002) explain that, “People feel they understand complex phenomena with far greater precision, coherence, and depth than they really do; they are subject to an illusion – an illusion of explanatory depth.” Basically, people think they know more about things than they really do. For example, if you asked 100 people on the street if they knew how a toaster works, many, if not most would say that they do. Most people have successfully used a toaster, after all. If you then asked them to explain exactly how a toaster works, it would quickly become apparent to both of you that they really don’t know as much about a toaster as they thought they did.

    Research about teacher knowledge supports this notion when it comes to reading instruction. Common perception is that being a skilled reader (i.e. knowing how to read) is qualification enough to be a skilled teacher of reading. However, being a skilled reader does not mean one has an explicit awareness of the structures of written and spoken language that is necessary to effectively teach reading. Over the years, Louisa Moats has administered many surveys to teachers with varying levels of experience in order to measure their perceived and actual knowledge of concepts that are essential for effective reading instruction (Moats, 1995; Moats & Foorman, 2003). Teachers taking the survey were asked how confident they were in their ability to teach reading then they were asked specific questions about reading. Moats found some major gaps in teacher knowledge about reading instruction and understanding of the structure of the English language.

    Results from these surveys have consistently demonstrated that teachers show a lack of understanding of the following concepts related to literacy knowledge and instruction: ...

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    Mar 04 2013
  • Six Characteristics of Effective Reading Teachers

    Six Characteristics of Effective Reading Teachers

    It seems like there has been a lot of talk lately about measuring ‘teacher effectiveness’. In fact, some organizations are spending a lot of time and money trying to identify effective teachers and compare them to their less-than-effective peers in an attempt to define what a good teacher does to get desired results. Ironically, we as teachers are, understandably, so caught up in the immediacy of teaching that we forget to reflect on what good teaching looks like to us. After spending several years as a literacy coach, observing in classrooms, and helping teachers use data to drive instruction, I have noticed some similarities among teachers who get good results, (I am speaking quantitatively and qualitatively, by the way). For what it is worth, these are just a few of my observations about what makes a teacher a good teacher. ...

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    Feb 20 2013

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