Tag Archives: theimportanceofreading

All Learners Becoming Good at Reading Comprehension is a Tall Order and it is Doable!!!!!

Explaining_ReadingLearning to read opens doors to the future. Learning to read must be about getting meaningful print in to a non-reader’s or developing-reader’s hands and helping the individual to gain the independence to comprehend the material.

Teachers make the difference for many learners as they become more and more proficient as ‘meaning makers’ as they read. Teachers create classrooms and conditions where: Learners want to connect with print, want to grasp massages and meanings from print and are eager to follow and expand their interests by reading.

Comprehension becomes purpose for reading and teachers become those that help the individual to become a reader who comprehends.

For an individual to comprehend he or she will need to amass strategies for approaching print that include being: proactive, tentative, personal, transactive, thoughtful, imagistic, inferential and reflective. Yes, you are correct – that is a tall order! And it is doable!!!!!

Duffy, in the second edition of his book: Explaining Reading: A Resource for Teaching Concepts, Skills and Strategies, describes that reading comprehension is:

► Proactive, because a reader must be actively thinking and constantly monitoring the meaning.
► Tentative, because predictions made in one moment may change in the next moment.
► Personal, in that meaning resides in the reader’s interpretation, which in turn is controlled by his or her prior knowledge.
► Transactive, because the reader’s background interacts with the author’s intention.
► Thoughtful, because you must always analyze the clues the author provides.
► Imagistic, because (in narrative text particularly) you use the author’s descriptive language to create a picture in your mind of what is happening.
► Inferential, because the reader can only make a calculated guess about the author’s meaning since the author was operating from one set of experiences and the reader from another.
► Reflective, in that good readers evaluate what they have read and determine its significance and/or how it can be used after finishing reading.

Strategies are an important part of comprehension. There are only a few strategies readers use in various combinations over and over again, with slight variation from one reading situation to another.
These include:
 Making predictions.
 Monitoring and questioning what is happening.
 Adjusting predictions as you go.
 Creating images in the mind.
 Removing blockages to meaning.
 Reflecting on the essence or the significance or the importance of what has been read.

These strategies can be categorized as:
• Before you begin reading.
• As you begin reading.
• During reading.
• After reading.

Learning to read opens doors to the future. Comprehending print is teachable and learnable!!!! Teach can open these doors. Learners can become independent makers of meaning as they read.

My belief is that as leaders we have to be willing to move beyond the status quo! We have to want and pursue deep change.  For each and every student to become competent in comprehending print serves the common good.



Successful Education Systems Make Education A Priority

Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education

Lessons from PISA for the United States

Here is a link to the report.    http://www.oecd.org/pisa/46623978.pdf Warning it is long. It compare the the US to countries across the world.

I find it a very interesting read.

And I have specific idea for you to consider to narrow your focus down from the almost 300 page document.

I am interested in the reading results.  You might want to look at pages 26 through 30 to set the stage for your thinking by viewing some of the comparison information and graphs.

Then focus in on page 30 Figure 2.2 and read the seven levels of proficiency in reading (as defined by this international organization) and try to place yourself among the seven.  And then think about these questions:

  • What value is there to you and your future (or the future of your children) to think deeply about this inter national  reading proficiency description?
  • Think about specific behaviors you can pursue that will likely advance your (or your children’s) level of proficiency in reading.
  • Do you sense that when PISA describes reading they are focusing on comprehension and critical thinking?
  • What kind of thinker are you  when you read?
  • What kinds of thinkers are your children when they read?

PISA_11_with_Attribution_I believe that it is not about Michigan in isolation and that it is about the children Michigan educates and how we educate them.

Do we have a world view?

Do we see the need to be successful in teaching all young people?

Do we want today’s students to be players in a world economy?

Children Differ. This might be the best summary of what the research says about teaching children to read.

Had it ever occurred to you that you don’t like to read hard books?

What was the last hard book you tried to read but finally quit reading because it was just too difficult and not at all enjoyable?  Now ask yourself, Was this book selected by you or was it assigned to you?  Imagine going through life never enjoying any book you read and never reading a book that was easy to read.  That is the situation of too many struggling readers.

Are you surprised that the research says that learning and motivation are higher when tasks can be completed with a high degree of success?  Do you think the teachers in your district would believe that difficult work produces better results?  Try to figure out why anyone would believe that?

Reading with 98 to 99 percent accuracy sounds like easy reading, right?

No adult would continue reading a book they could read only at 98 to 99 percent accuracy.  In a John Grisham novel there are 300 to 400 words per page.  Reading even at 99 percent accuracy would still mean there would be 3 or 4 words on every page you couldn’t pronounce and didn’t know what they meant.  In other words, there would be 75 to 100 words in every chapter that you wouldn’t know.  Have you ever read a book that difficult?

Does your school do a better job of teaching kids to read than it does of developing children who do read?  How would you explain the outcomes your school fosters?

Children Differ. This might be the best summary of what the research says about teaching children to read.  Think of instances where you found a technique or teaching strategy that worked for only one child but it worked really well with that child.  Can you understand why having teachers with big teaching toolboxes – filled with different instructional routines and strategies – is the best hope for achieving the goal of all children reading?

Does your school use commercial test preparation products (workbooks, computer-based drill and practice, etc.)?  Since no research supports the use of these products, how is their use rationalized in your school?

Does it surprise you that schools with fewer poor children (fewer than 25 percent) are ranked among the best schools in the world?  What factors other the wealth explains why some kids do so much better than other in schools?

Think about how much reading your struggling readers do every day.  Is it enough reading practice?  Does the volume of reading your struggling readers do pale in comparison to your better readers?

I strongly recommend the book; What Really Matters for Struggling Readers: Designing Research-Based Programs, Third Edition 2012 by Richard L. Allington.  The above questions and more will be confronted in this excellent book.

If we care about all kids learning to read, I think we will want to read this book.



Teachers Impact Comprehension

Research Findings: Children get more out of a reading assignment when the teacher precedes the lesson with background information and follows it with discussion.


Young readers, and poor readers of every age, do not consistently see connections between what they read and what they already know. When they are given background information about the principal ideas or characters in a story before they read it, they are less apt to become sidetracked or confused and are more likely to understand the story fully.

Afterwards, a question-and-answer discussion session clarifies, reinforces, and extends their understanding.

Good teachers begin the day’s reading lesson by preparing children for the story to be read–introducing the new words and concepts they will encounter. Many teachers develop their own introductions or adapt those offered in teachers’ manuals.

Such preparation is like a road map: children need it because they may meet new ideas in the story and because they need to be alerted to look for certain special details. Children who are well prepared remember a story’s ideas better than those who are not.

In the discussion after the reading lesson, good teachers ask questions that probe the major elements of the story’s plot, characters, theme, or moral. (“Why did Pinocchio’s nose grow? Why did he lie? What did his father think about his lying? Did their feelings for each other change?”) Such questions achieve two purposes: they check students’ understanding of what they have just read, and they highlight the kind of meanings and ideas students should look for in future reading selections. These questions also lay the groundwork for later appreciation of the elements of literature such as theme and style. When children take part in a thought-provoking discussion of a story, they understand more clearly that the purpose of reading is to get information and insight, not just to decode the words on a page.



This is Amy Shinn Sayers, a public school teacher.  I love her smile and t-shirt!

Children Need To Be Reading

Research Finding: Children improve their reading ability by reading a lot. Reading achievement is directly related to the amount of reading children do in school and outside.


Independent reading increases both vocabulary and reading fluency. Unlike using workbooks and performing computer drills, reading books gives children practice in the “whole act” of reading, that is, both in discovering the meanings of individual words and in grasping the meaning of an entire story. But American children do not spend much time reading independently at school or at home. In the average elementary school, for example, children spend just  minutes a day reading silently.  

Research shows that the amount of leisure time spent reading is directly related to children’s reading comprehension, the size of their vocabularies, and the gains in their reading ability. Clearly, reading at home can be a powerful supplement to classwork. Parents can encourage leisure reading by making books an important part of the home, by giving books or magazines as presents, and by encouraging visits to the local library.

Another key to promoting independent reading is making books easily available to children through classroom libraries. Children in classrooms that have libraries read more, have better attitudes about reading and make greater gains in reading comprehension than children in classrooms without libraries.


Where Do You Line Up With These Beliefs About Reading?

Do you agree with these statements?

  • Reading involves “figuring out” and “remembering” as each reader makes sense of print.
  • Teachers and schools are absolutely crucial in developing and expanding each student’s ability to become a reader who “figures out” and “remembers” as well as makes sense of print at higher and higher levels of proficiency.
  • Language is instinctual for humans – reading is a component of language. Reading can be learned by all.
  • Language always occurs in a situation and situations are critical to comprehension. Thus, reading comprehension is not exact, but situational. Each person activates their own specific prior knowledge base as they build meaning for the text.
  • Teachers of reading must engage each student in a classroom. By developing and enhancing each student’s abilities as a reader, that teacher will stimulate productive thinking and brain activity within each student.
  • Teachers and administrators need to come together and develop or adopt a clearly defined, developmentally appropriate, reading curriculum for the district. The curriculum then must become the shared focus of the instructional staff as they go about the professional work of expanding and developing reading independence within the students they serve.
  • Children improve their reading ability by reading a lot. Reading achievement is directly related to the amount of reading children do in school and outside of school. Teachers must be focused, not only on instruction, but also on the application of reading abilities in real reading experiences.
  • A student’s reading development is significantly enhanced by frequent “want to” reading of meaningful print.
  • Reading development happens one person at a time. It is important to understand that the actual specific developmental path for one individual will not exactly mirror the developmental path of another individual.
  • Teachers are absolutely key if a district is to meet a goal of raising reading achievement for all students. It is not about the district buying the prefect reading program or set of materials. Programs and/or materials don’t teach. Teachers teach. Investing in their development and monitoring their growth and ability to apply their learning will lead to student achievement.

I believe all of the above statements. Our beliefs influence our dreams. My dream is for every child to be literate!!!! Dreams are important! They drive outcomes!

What do you believe about reading?


WHAT IS READING for a beginning reader?

Reading is developmental! Non-readers and beginning readers have to start where they are and develop their abilities as they go. They have to ‘hang in there’ because it can take time. Non-readers and beginning readers benefit from supportive adults who encourage them and share the joy of books with them.

I find that it is best if the developing reader can see his or her success along the way. So, I want to frame things in the positive and share that with the developing reader. I want to help them see the ‘developing reader’ with in themselves.

When I say I believe all kids can read, I mean that all kids can enjoy a book. Think about when you take the kids to the beach in the summer time. The kids say they are going “swimming.” Yet many of the kids may just wade or splash in the very shallow water. Some kids won’t even get wet above their shoulders, yet both parents and children are comfortable with saying they are going “swimming.”

It’s the same way with reading. Young people can enjoy a book by reading just pictures and sometimes reading only some of the words. A book that is shared with a family member can be even more enjoyable. By reading a book together, you can help provide words for the child by having the child read what they can read and you filling in the rest. Or, you can read the book to the child and then you can literally read the book together at the same time.

So when I say “I believe all kids can read” I am not saying that all kids at all ages or stages of development can read every word. I am saying that all kids can benefit from being involved with a book. They can gain meaning and understanding. they can find joy. They can increase their desire to continue to engage with print.  I am saying that all kids can learn to be independent readers.  This is doable!!!!

It would be wonderful if every child had many chances to be involved with books every day throughout the summer and into the school year. You can help make that happen for your child or children in your life.