Tag Archives: Teachers College

What Does Research Say Adolescent Readers Need?

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A Preview from A Guide to the Reading Workshop: Middle Grades

by Lucy Calkins and Mary Ehrenworth

Over decades of research (1977, 2002), Richard Allington has returned often to the three key conditions readers need to thrive:

  1. time to read,
  2. access to books they find fascinating, and
  3. expert instruction.

The first condition, time to read, means examining middle school schedules to make sure students get time to practice. Allington argued, and many other researchers have argued, that above all, students need time to engage in reading in order to get better at reading. Arguing for time for independent reading in schools, Donalyn Miller (2015) likens the situation of students needing to read in order to get better at reading to learning a sport or an instrument. No one ever asks the coach why his players are practicing on the field, and no one asks the music teacher why students are playing instruments during practice times. The only way to get better at doing something is to practice doing it. 

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Gearing Up for a Powerful Launch to a New Year: Reflecting on the June Teachers College Writing Institute

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by Anna Gratz Cockerille 

This week, institute season kicks off at The Reading and Writing Project, as thousands of educators gather at Teachers College in New York City to reflect upon, reinvigorate, and refine their teaching of writing. The workshops, lectures, keynotes, and often informal study groups they will attend will help them to hone their teaching practices so that they begin the next school year in the strongest place yet. 

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Combating Summer Slump: Let’s Keep Our Readers Reading

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Photo credit: Ben White

 by Anna Gratz Cockerille 

These days, books have a lot of competition for kids’ attention. Video games, cell phones, tablets, and social media sites all provide tantalizing sources of entertainment for kids of all ages during their off hours. As we move into the summer months, many kids will have a lot of hours to fill. As teachers, we have a lot of power to make sure that at least some of kids’ time this summer is taken up with reading. 

Reading over the summer is particularly crucial for children from lower income families, as study after study has shown. Many of these children already suffer from vast achievement gaps that they can’t afford to widen. Some research estimates that children from middle-income homes read three lines of print for everyone one line read by children from lower income homes. Children from lower income homes simply cannot afford to not read in the summer if they are to catch up. 

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Wrapping Up the Year: Tips for Teacher Leaders, Coaches, and Admin.

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by Anna Gratz Cockerille 

The winding down of a school year brings both reflection on what has passed and hopes for what is to come. In schools across the country, administrators and staff developers are wrapping up the year by gathering teachers in planning meetings to take stock and look ahead. 

To be as effective as possible, planning meetings need to be carefully, er… planned. Here are a few steps administrators can take to make sure that end of year planning meetings go as well as possible. 

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Reflect, Revise, & Reset: Using Authentic Data to Plan for Next Year

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 by Anna Gratz Cockerille

Data collection has become more and more of an obsession in education over the past decade. Certainly, the term data often suggests Big Data: standardized test scores and other quantitative measures derived from evaluations, and school-wide data such as graduation rates and quality review or teacher evaluation outcomes. These kinds of data can provide helpful big-picture information about a school. But it is the little data that teachers collect continuously that often has the most impact on day to day teaching and, in the end, on student achievement. This kind of data is mostly qualitative and provides in-depth insights into students’ skill levels, understandings, and work habits. 

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We are Readers and Writers! Setting Up a Literacy-Rich Summer

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by Anna Gratz Cockerille

For many teachers and students, the summer months are a chance to change pace, to dig into projects of personal interest, and just…breathe. But for many kids, summer is also a time when learning grinds to a halt. Students in lower socio-economic households in particular have little opportunity to practice the academic skills that began to take root and gel by the end of the year. One particular area of well-documented summer decline is in reading. When students don’t read during the months of summer, the effects on their academic progress are disastrous. 

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