Comprehension Instruction Learning Disabilities - Dyslexia Professional Development Special Education Vocabulary Instruction Writing Instruction
The Language and Literacy Connection
August 23, 2016
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The Language and Literacy Connection
I have recently been developing modified versions of Keys to Literacy’s professional development for instructional practices of comprehension, vocabulary, and writing skills to focus on how these practices can be used to meet the needs of English Language Learners and students with a reading disability. This work has reminded me that language skills are tightly connected to learning literacy skills, and that weak English language skills are often the reason why many students struggle with reading and writing...
Writing Instruction
Building Community
August 9, 2016
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Building Community
It’s summer and I am cleaning out my office; organizing files, restocking the paper clips and staples, filling the recycling bin. Nostalgically looking through a folder of handouts for a writers’ workshop I conducted many years ago, I laser focused on the words of one page in particular. It outlined the grading criteria for my writing classes – how to evaluate the product and, always more importantly for me, how to evaluate the process of writing....
Research
Do’s and Don’ts of Teaching Practices
July 19, 2016
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Do’s and Don’ts of Teaching Practices
It is summertime! There are many reasons why summer is my favorite season but one of them is that the pace is slower and it allows me to spend more time engaging in an activity that is one of life's simple pleasures. Reading. I recently read two blogs on the Edutopia website, “What Doesn't Work: Literacy Practices We Should Abandon" by Nell Duke and ”5 Highly Effective Teaching Practices" by Rebecca Alber that I would like to share with you...
Adolescent Literacy College and Career Ready Common Core Complex Text Content Literacy Disciplinary Literacy High School Literacy
Content Literacy Skills: Building a Stronger Plate
June 21, 2016
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Content Literacy Skills: Building a Stronger Plate
I recently read an article in the Washington Post about one school district’s plan to make an overhaul of literacy instruction a priority, especially in its high schools. The Prince George’s County School District in MD set a goal of ensuring that by 2020, 90 percent of its students graduating from high school will be prepared for college and the work force. The district decided to fully embrace the Common Core focus that instruction in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language be a shared responsibility among all content teachers within a school – literacy instruction is being filtered into every subject classroom, including math, science, and health class....
Interventions Learning Disabilities - Dyslexia Parents
Resource for Parent Advocates of Struggling Readers
June 7, 2016
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Resource for Parent Advocates of Struggling Readers
I recently learned that a long-time colleague, Lorna Kaufman, has written a book and launched a related project designed to support parents of children who struggle with reading. Lorna and her co-authors Sandra Doran and Leigh Leveen have worked for over 30 years helping struggling readers and providing advice for how their parents can advocate for their children. Based on this experience, they wrote the book Smart Kid, Can’t Read: 5 Steps Any Parent Can Take to Get Help which can be ordered through Amazon. The 200+ pages of the book are organized into sections corresponding to these five recommended steps...
Comprehension Instruction Professional Development
I Should Have Written That!
May 24, 2016
1
I Should Have Written That!
For the third time in my life, I have read a book and immediately said, “I should have written that!” Has that ever happened to you? I mean, really, “ THAT book is my life!”

The first time it happened was with Frank Smith’s, Insult to Intelligence: the Bureaucratic Invasion of our Classrooms, published in 1986. Smith promotes alternatives to “drill –and-kill” instruction where, “children are learning that reading and writing are ‘school activities,’ punitive, pointless and boring, not to be engaged in unless teachers require them.” He promotes “literacy clubs,” where …”there is never a formal, tedious, and meaningless period of instruction; no one ever gives a struggling beginner a low score; differences in interest and ability are expected.” He was describing MY classroom! I should have written that book...

Close Reading College and Career Ready Common Core Content Literacy Disciplinary Literacy High School Literacy Middle School Literacy
Why We Need Writing Instruction in Science
May 10, 2016
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Why We Need Writing Instruction in Science
I work with a lot of science teachers while visiting schools to deliver literacy professional development. The Common Core literacy standards call for teachers of all subjects to provide reading and writing instruction. Understandably, many science teachers tell me they don’t understand why literacy instruction is something they should be doing, especially given classroom time demands placed on them to cover a lot of science content. My response: look at the science standards!....
Adolescent Literacy Elementary Literacy High School Literacy Middle School Literacy
Tips for Motivating Your Students
April 26, 2016
2
Tips for Motivating Your Students
Experts say there are six variables of human motivation. Whether we are two years old or 92 years old, experiences from our past contribute to our future decisions. One of those variables is success. We must be at least 50% successful at something in order to be motivated to do it again. It makes sense for me. At age 17, I went downhill skiing. It was an horrific experience. To this day, I will not even cross country ski; there may be a decline in the terrain and in seconds I will be kissing the ground. I have zero motivation to ski. I snowshoe, thank you...
Assessment Comprehension Instruction Digital Literacies
Online Reading Comprehension Redux
April 12, 2016
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Online Reading Comprehension Redux
In September, 2014 I wrote a blog entry titled Online Reading Comprehension in which I cited several research pieces written by Julie Coiro. I recently read two more interesting articles written by Julie and some of her colleagues, so I decided to update that post. Both pieces address the fact that the Internet represents an important source of information for many students, yet most lack proficiency in the requisite comprehension skills for efficient and effective Internet research...
Close Reading Common Core Comprehension Instruction Differentiated Instruction Writing Instruction
Scaffolds to Support Summarizing
March 29, 2016
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Scaffolds to Support Summarizing
Summarizing is one of the most effective activities for improving both comprehension and writing skills (National Reading Panel, 2000; Graham & Perin, 2007). Summarizing enhances comprehension as students select, condense, and synthesize in their own words the big ideas of what they have learned. Summarizing also lets teachers monitor student comprehension. It’s not surprising that the Common Core has devoted one of the ten reading standards to summarizing....