Dear Lucy,

Dear Lucy, Thank you for writing No One Gets to Own the Term “The Science of Reading.” I am so relieved that discussion of reading science has made its way into the balanced literacy community and that you’ve added your own voice to the conversation. You’re making it safe for experienced educators to refine our practice as a result of new learning.  For many years, I was a devout reading

The Drudgery (and Beauty) of Decodable Texts

I was determined to undo the bad reading habits my students had developed during guided reading. So, I exchanged a leveled reading program for one with decodables and used a diagnostic phonics assessment to regroup my students. For some students, cracking the code was easy Students with strong phonemic awareness linked the sounds they heard in spoken words to the letter patterns I taught. When they came to an unfamiliar

Reading Behaviors ≠ Reading

When I became a reading interventionist, my first graders taught me that Guided Reading isn’t as effective as I had once believed. Initially, my attention was on my readers’ “strengths.” Mistakes in reading were not problems but rather “miscues,” windows into my students’ minds and reassurance that they needed me for guidance as they read. But as I observed my students, I noticed them develop misunderstandings about reading.  Reading Is

Making Changes that Last: The End of the Pendulum?

There’s new momentum behind teaching reading more directly and explicitly, but many of us are wondering: is this just another swing of a pendulum? It’s hard to believe that investing in new reading practices is worthwhile if the new practices will fall out of favor in a few years. But for district leaders who want to make a lasting impact, there is no better focus than reading instruction– and, if

F&P Benchmark Assessment System: Doesn’t look right, sound right, or make sense

My district, like so many others, uses Fountas and Pinnell’s Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) as the primary measure of student reading progress. But if you’ve had doubts about the assessment and the ways BAS data is often used, you’re on to something… Limited Materials An F&P Benchmark Assessment System kit provides us with only two books (one fiction and one nonfiction) for each reading level, so we end up using

Shame is no rallying cry

Teacher guilt is a compelling topic and it’s found its way into Emily Hanford’s reporting more than once. In Hard Words: After learning about the reading science, these teachers were full of regret. “I feel horrible guilt,” said Ibarra, who’s been a teacher for 15 years. “I thought, ‘All these years, all these students,’” said Bosak, who’s been teaching for 26 years. To help assuage that guilt, the Bethlehem school

It’s Not Enough to Know Better

Just as the school year began, Natalie Wexler’s Knowledge Gap and Emily Hanford’s At a Loss for Words shook the ground under Balanced Literacy. Optimists might assume that classroom instruction will be transformed as a result of these powerful publications, but if a teacher in my district heard the research and wanted to change her practice, she’d face a series of barriers.  Barrier: Formal Evaluation The school year began with

Discussion Guide: At a Loss for Words

This facilitator’s guide is intended to provide possible points for pause and discussion as educators, advocacy groups, and community members listen to At a Loss for Words from APM Reports. You’ll find that some of the questions have related resources to enhance your discussion. You will also find additional reading, images, and a video embedded in the APM article. We would love to hear about your experiences discussing the podcast

What F&P Have “Clarified” and What They Haven’t

The Fountas and Pinnell leveling system is designed to help teachers match students with books they can read. Period. Whether or not it actually does that will be covered in the next blog, but first… Districts across the country use Fountas and Pinnell materials in ways contrary to the creators’ intent, which is a problem separate from the materials themselves. “It is our belief that levels have no place in

Leveling Charges at F&P

The (Marketing) Genius of the F&P Leveling System The Fountas and Pinnell leveling system proposes that all the books written in English can be sorted into 26 categories, exactly the number of letters in the English alphabet. (In the same neighborhood as Reading Recovery’s 34 levels, one can’t help but notice. But that minus-eight makes all the difference.) The A-Z simplicity of the F&P leveling system is so appealing that

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