Category Archives: Comprehension

How to Support Student “Book Shopping” in Your Classroom

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Managing classroom libraries requires a delicate balance between organization, choice, behavior, and matching children with appropriate texts. Classroom libraries can be organized in many ways– by genre, series, or some other category. Susan Taberski (2000) suggests having bins of unleveled books from which students choose their independent reading selections and bins of books by level for when they need practice with something "just right." Other teachers label their books using the Fountas and Pinnell A through Z gradient. 

Because an "assessed" reading level doesn't always correspond with a student's level of comprehension, it is important that students spend time with more than just independent-level texts. To do this, it is necessary to spend time working with students on independent text selection that supports decoding development, fosters comprehension and thinking, and pique students' interests in reading.

"But How?" you might ask…

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How the Lessons in Short Nonfiction for American History Build Knowledge

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In this visual podcast ( this is the second in the series, the first can be viewed here) Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey walk you through the structure and content of each of the ten lessons in the Short Nonfiction for American History series. This overview will show you exactly what students will learn with each lesson, and how these resources are developed around a gradual release of responsibility framework. 

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How to Begin the Shift to a Problem-Based Approach

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In her new book, Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading Vicki Vinton calls for a shift of focus from complexity of text to the complexity of thinking a reader must engage in in order to understand the text. 

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Connecting Comprehension and Content: A Visual Podcast with Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey

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Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey have created the Short Nonfiction for American History Series in order to embed reading and thinking strategies into social studies and history instruction, so that comprehension and thinking strategies become tools for learning and understanding content. Throughout the series, Anne and Stephanie show that teaching historical literacy means merging thoughtful, foundational literacy practices with challenging, engaging resources to immerse students in historical ways of thinking. 

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The Resurgence of Inquiry-Based Instruction

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Because inquiry sometimes seems so hard to define, Steph Harvey and Smokey Daniels created the chart below to highlight the contrasts (2015) between it and a "coverage" approach. Notice that they do not label old-school teaching as “traditional.” That’s because progressive, student-centered, and inquiry-based learning is just as strong a strand in the American tradition (think John Dewey, Jerome Bruner, Francis Parker) as the skill-and-drill paradigm that has dominated the last three decades.

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What Will Teachers Get out of Sharing Books Talking Science?

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The current attention given to STEM/STEAM has many of us exploring new ways to make science more accessible, more practical, more inviting to our students, and less intimidating for ourselves. Mark and Valerie have given us a new tool to do just that. Together they provide us with a lens for noticing science everywhere, and most happily, in the pages of many of our favorite picture books. There are the expected titles with a science focus, and you’ll be pleased to find many of the recommended authors’ names printed on the spines in your nonfiction collection. But you’ll be surprised when they gently lead you to notice how the principles of science and the seven crosscutting concepts can be found in the plots and structures of some of your favorite fiction. It is amazing what you see when you are wearing different glasses. — Lester Laminak, from the foreword to Sharing Books, Talking Science

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