professional development

Seeing the Good in Balanced Literacy… and Moving On

Though Balanced Literacy was wrong about some important things, it has practices worth saving. And understanding the good in that approach to teaching literacy can help us transition to more effective instruction. Seeing the Good Balanced Literacy taught us the… Importance of a print-rich classroom Love of reading aloud to children Value of students seeing us write Pride in having an extensive classroom library Power of a mini-lesson Utility of

Can We Please Stop Talking About Phonics?

Can We Please Stop Talking About Phonics? The discussion about the science of reading and its refutation of Balanced Literacy is often mischaracterized as being all about phonics. It’s not. But when reading researchers evaluated how a popular Balanced Literacy program addresses phonics, fluency, text complexity, building knowledge, vocabulary, and the quality of its supports for English Learners, only the part about phonics made front page news.  So a lot

Dear Lucy, a second letter

Dear Lucy, When I wrote you a letter years ago, I urged you to consider the enormous impact you could have on classrooms, if you were to revise the trainings and materials offered by Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. I highlighted portions of Units of Study: Reading that instruct teachers to have students guess rather than decode words. And I made my letter public because I wanted to help

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

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

There’s Comfort In Being Wrong

Teacher (in a panic): “It can’t be wrong.” Me (softly): “Why not?” Teacher: “Because if it’s wrong and I’ve been doing it for years, then what does that mean for the kids?” Me: “I know, but another teacher said to me, ‘What about the kids we haven’t had yet?’” To consider that we may be wrong is scary. In her TedTalk, On Being Wrong (https://bit.ly/31o0V1o) Kathryn Schulz asks the audience:

Teachers Won’t Embrace Research Until It Embraces Them

I understand why advocates, researchers, and policymakers who feel the urgency of our literacy crisis are frustrated when teachers don’t embrace reading science. But my entry into the world of reading research was difficult, and while I take pride in my determination to learn, I understand why other teachers might be deterred. If we want teachers to apply research, it may be helpful to think about why they aren’t. I’ll

Open Letter: lives depend on literacy; lives depend on us

Teachers are lauded for our martyrdom- “other professions make money, but teachers make a difference”- and frequently bashed , so rarely will we publicly voice our self-doubt. When we’re driving home after a hard day or lying awake at night, we may think about students who struggled. Despite (or perhaps because of) our tireless efforts, we wonder, years after they leave us, “Was there something more I could have done?”

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