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7 Back to School Literacy Tips

Coming back to school from summer vacation can be tough! There are a million and one things to think about! But don’t let name tags, desk plates, first-day plans, etc. overshadow the need for some stellar literacy instruction. Here are seven back-to-school strategies for literacy success in your classroom. 1. Focus on Phonemes Remember that the ability for students to blend and segment the individual sounds in words (phonemes) is critical for reading and spelling. Do you already have a plan in place for students to practice blending and segmenting the sounds in words? What about a plan for explicitly connecting those phonemes with their spellings? Try word chains as a way to practice these skills. This short activity is such a useful tool that combines blending, segmenting, and manipulating all while connecting your phonemic awareness instruction with letters! 2. Map Out Your Phonics Scope and Sequence Don’t leave anything to chance! Make sure you follow a systematic sequence of phonic
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Recipe for Reading: How to Create a Reader

 Recipe for Reading: How to Create a Reader Ingredients 1 teacher with knowledge of reading science 1 solid program Unlimited doses of high-quality instructional delivery Multiple opportunities to respond Plentiful meaningful practice opportunities (amounts will vary) Generous sprinkling of specific, affirmative praise Several dashes of corrective feedback (to taste) Start with one teacher who has growing knowledge in the science of reading and an appetite for learning. Mix in a reading program that includes explicit, systematic phonemic awareness and phonics instruction as well as instruction in language comprehension (background knowledge, vocabulary, language structures, verbal reasoning, literacy knowledge). Fold in instructional delivery that is efficient and effective. Whisk with a brisk pace and allow students 3-5 response opportunities per minute. Students should be saying, writing, and doing. Blend in a judicious amount of meaningful practice opportunities. This part is critic

A Reminder

  I’m filled with so many emotions when I look at this picture. Tenderness, sadness, regret. The signs of dyslexia were there, but I didn’t see them. I didn’t even know them. Back then we spent so much time memorizing those “sight words.” He remembered that the word “of” has an o and an f, but he couldn’t remember the order (hadn’t mapped those letters and sounds). I think it’s pretty clever that he tried to spell the word “love” with the same letters he heard in the word “of.” And he often mixed up letter names…so when he wanted to write, “I love you, Mom” he put a y instead of the letter u for the word “you.” Oh my heart. I can see the struggle and the effort this writing took…and I love that it’s a picture of me and him…flying drones together on a train track. -He’s always loved trains. I didn’t see the signs of dyslexia. I didn’t even know what dyslexia was. If I had known how to help my son when he was in kindergarten, I could have prevented so much heartache. I can imagine what i

What Are Your Pet Peeves About Reading?

I recently read Tim Shanahan’s blog post about his reading pet peeves and it really got me thinking about my own. So, without further ado, here are my top 5 pet peeves about teaching reading. Pet Peeve #1: Telling a child they can only read books from their “assigned reading level.” Nothing kills the love of reading faster than telling someone that they can’t read a book because it’s either too easy or too hard for them. Just imagine the shame and embarrassment these restrictions might cause a student, especially if noticed by his/her peers. When students read for pleasure, they should be free to select books and topics that interest them and teachers should encourage that. Additionally, reading levels tend to be rather arbitrary and unreliable. A student who knows a lot about a topic will be able to navigate a more complex text on that topic.  As a parent, I have experienced both ends of the spectrum on this issue. When my son (with dyslexia) was in the 3rd grade, I made sure that he

Literacy Podcasts Worth Listening To

**Update: I'm excited to share that I've started a new podcast, called Literacy Talks, with a couple colleagues of mine. Check it out here: The more I learn about literacy, the more important it is to me to listen to high quality podcasts that encourage and understand effective, evidence-based reading practices. Here is a list of my favorite podcasts. 1. Amplify The Science of Reading This is one of my go-to sources for information on the science of reading. The host is extremely knowledgeable, asks pertinent questions, and has a constant stream of expert guests. Not to miss episode: Nurturing Automatic Readers Check out this interview with Margaret Goldberg and Alanna Mednick from The Right to Read Project. They address the science of reading in an easy to understand manner. This podcast also has a recent series where they deconstruct Scarborough’s Reading Rope, with a podcast dedicated to each strand of the rope. It’s a must list

The Science of Reading: First Steps

The term “science of reading” has become a buzzword recently and there is often confusion over what the term means. Sometimes teachers think this refers to a specific curriculum, program, or method, but the term actually refers to a large body of research on reading. It encompasses thousands of studies on reading. Perhaps my favorite explanation of the science of reading comes from Louisa Moats who explains,  “First, the body of work referred to as “the science of reading” is not an ideology, a philosophy, a political agenda, a one-size-fits-all approach, a program of instruction, or a specific component of instruction. It is the emerging consensus from many related disciplines, based on literally thousands of studies, supported by hundreds of millions of research dollars, conducted across the world in many languages. These studies have revealed a great deal about how we learn to read, what goes wrong when students don’t learn, and what kind of instruction is most likely to work the be

Free Science of Reading Training

I am excited to share with you a professional development series based on the science of reading that I created for my master’s program. Since I strongly believe that every student deserves a teacher who understands the science behind reading, I am sharing these for free. 😊  Please know that this is only meant to be the very beginning of your science of reading journey. There is so much more to learn! You can access the information here: If you are interested in the study I did for my capstone project, you are welcome to watch the presentation I created here: