Teacher: Advocate, Bystander, or Adversary?

A GUIDE TO READING ADVOCACY, PART 3 (Click here to read Part 2.) How can you get a school to change the way it’s teaching your child? The way you express concerns about reading instruction at your child’s school may very well determine how well those concerns are addressed by school staff. The forum you choose, the staff members you involve, the tone you use, and the priorities you convey,

Is My Child’s School Getting Reading Right? What to ask. What to look for.

A GUIDE TO READING ADVOCACY, PART 2 (Click here to read Part 3.) Is my child getting good reading instruction at school? Families need an answer to this question, because children who don’t learn to read well in first and second grade are unlikely to catch up later.  And there can be lifelong repercussions. As one parent said at a school board meeting: “Again and again, we are hearing that

Connecting the Mainstream Classroom & Special Education

A GUIDE TO READING ADVOCACY, PART 1 (Click here to read Part 2.) A parent might assume, after seeing the special education teacher, specialists, classroom teacher, and principal gathered in the same room to discuss the progress of a single child, that collaboration is focused and ongoing. In truth, the team may not have the opportunity to reconvene until the next legally-required SST or IEP meeting. Many parents are unaware

It’s Not Enough to Mean Well

I came into the teaching profession aware that my White middle class experience would impact how I taught. I earned my teaching credential and masters degree from a program focused on social justice. There, I’d read and discussed books such as Teaching Other People’s Children and Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity, so I understood, in theory, the blindness and biases I would need to overcome.

Every Child Is Unique… and Every Child Has to Learn the Same Skills

Heartfelt thanks to Dr. Maryanne Wolf for adding her thoughts this piece More the same than different Many of us assume that, because each child is a unique human being, every child learns to read in a different way. This widespread misconception causes unnecessary difficulty for teachers and for our students.  “It is simply not true that there are hundreds of ways to learn to read… when it comes to

The ABCs of Teaching Reading at Home

This month’s school closures have forced families to become homeschool teachers overnight.  Getting Started!  What We Know about Beginning Readers Children progress as readers at different rates, but they pass through predictable stages of development. For typically-developing readers, the stages of reading can be mapped onto grade levels, but as a homeschool teacher you have the advantage of being able to provide the instruction your children need, regardless of their

We Can’t Teach Love But We Can Teach Reading

Teachers can speak a lot of things into existence (a quiet line in the hallway, students sitting “criss, cross, applesauce”) but a love of reading isn’t one of them. Enthusiasm is a part of good teaching, but communicating a love of books isn’t the same thing as teaching reading. I learned that the hard way. When Reading Comes Easily, It’s Easy to Love It Reading courses in my teacher preparation

For Our Struggling Readers

Confession I always had students who entered my fourth grade class reading significantly below grade level. And each year, when I passed them on to fifth grade, those students were still behind. I did everything I knew how to do- I taught Guided Reading lessons, provided independent reading time, found them books to love, replied to readers’ response journals- but no matter what I tried in my Balanced Literacy classroom,

Simple But Not Easy

As the foundations of Balanced Literacy begin to crumble, the proponents of Balanced Literacy are now presenting a new theory of reading, which they call the Complex View.  In this reincarnation of the reading wars, the Complex View seeks to counter a well-researched alternative, The Simple View. I was struck last month by the contrast between two articles that were published on the same day: Two Publications from December 5th

Balanced Literacy’s Crumbling Foundation– What We Can Do About It

Planning with the creative and hard-working teachers on my fourth-grade team was rewarding (and occasionally hilarious), but our enthusiasm sometimes produced overly-complicated plans. If a plan was becoming unwieldy, one of us would interrupt the process and say to the team:  “If it’s this complicated, it’s probably not right.” We’d then pause, rearticulate our goals, and start over to create a more coherent instructional plan. Thought leaders in the Balanced

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