Balanced Literacy

What Do I Do with All These Predictable Books?

Many teachers have already reorganized our leveled libraries because we learned that, according to Fountas and Pinnell, “levels have no place in classroom libraries.” Sorting books into bins labeled by theme or topic is time-consuming, but it’s not a difficult task. We immediately see that offering students more choice in their reading materials and teaching them to monitor their own reading for accuracy and comprehension is rewarding. However, books at

What Should We Do When a Reader Stumbles on a Word?

There’s a lot of bad advice out there for what to do when a reader comes to an unfamiliar word. While the exact language of problematic cues varies – Take a guess and sail on by! Skip the word and then reread. Use your eagle eye to look at the picture. – the premise of all these prompts is the same; they encourage young readers to use meaning or syntax

Predictable Books: Purpose-written for Guessing

The Good: Toddlers and preschoolers adore picture books with predictable language because they can emulate reading without needing to decode. Young children love Brown, Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See? and I Went Walking and Silly Sally because the repeating sentence patterns and big, bold, colorful illustrations allow them to confidently “read” the books by memorizing the patterns and looking at the pictures.  Predictable books pique children’s interest in

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

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

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

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

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