Category: Curriculum


Part 5: Independent Reading—The Foundation of Vocabulary Instruction

Part 5 of The Independent Reading Series
(Originally posted on October 6, 2015.)

How is it possible that something as simple as independent reading can provide such rich results for students? In education, we often try to make answers to problems too complex.

How have people been learning new vocabulary for centuries? Through reading and academic conversations. Young children develop early vocabulary by listening to adults and other children talk and by engaging in talk with their peers and adults. They also learn […]

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Part 4: The Importance of Series Reading

Part 4 of The Independent Reading Series
(Originally posted on Sept. 10, 2015.)

Students need regular, daily exposure to texts they can read. The more they read with confidence, the more adept they become. I’ve often heard parents complain that their children are reading “fluffy” series books and that they wish they would read books of substance, or the classics. In actuality, these “fluffy” series books give students the practice they need to become more confident readers.

When I think of all of […]

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Part 2 – The Classroom Library: If you Build it They Will Come

Part 2 of The Independent Reading Series

Recently, flipping through the TV channels, I came across the movie Field of Dreams. Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) listened to the voices in his head and built a baseball field in the middle of a cornfield. And the players came. In this same vein, I want to become the voice in your head: If you build it they will come.

I’m referring to classroom libraries. One of the foundations of every great literacy […]

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Part 1 – The Power of Independent Reading

Part I of The Independent Reading Series
The Power of Independent Reading

I’ve committed my entire career to either teaching English or supporting English and literacy instruction in classrooms. When people find out what I do for a living, they often ask “What do we do about kids these days?” I have even been asked this in the doctor’s office during a check-up. They are asking about the problem with teen literacy skills and most often the poor writing they see in […]

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The Spiral Curriculum: Letting Go of Mastery

This post originally appeared on Feb. 11, 2015.

Although we debate about modes and methods, educators mostly acquiesce to the need to assess student proficiency. The problems start when, in the search for appropriate measures, we toss around words like “mastery.” As ELA teachers, we of all people should be aware of the importance of word choice. “Mastery” stresses us out because in teaching literature, what is it that we are asking students to “master” exactly? How does one master a […]

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