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Catching Schools

An Action Guide to Schoolwide Reading Improvement

By Barbara M Taylor, Edited by Nell K Duke
Foreword by P David Pearson

Improve student achievement and teacher effectiveness as you build a strong school community. Catching Schools provides processes around which other reforms can be carved. DVD shows lessons, coaching techniques, and staff discussions in action.

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This product is part of the series:  The Research-Informed Classroom Series

Full Description

Based on her work over the last decade with more than 100 schools and visits to more than 5000 classrooms, Barbara Taylor shares her School Change in Reading (SCR) reform model in Catching Schools. At the heart of the reform model is the belief that student learning improves when teachers are supported with research-based, effective reading instruction and are given a way to work alongside one another to hone their teaching abilities. The end result: a collaborative school community, motivated teachers, and students who are successful, engaged readers.

Taylor’s action points to schoolwide reading improvement include:

  • research-proven practices for teaching reading
  • a model to put these practices into action for schoolwide reform in reading
  • assessment practices to inform teaching
  • collaborative meeting strategies and professional learning activities; including 100+ reproducibles for teachers and administrators.

PLUS! Video clips show lessons, coaching techniques, and staff discussions in action.

Catching Schools provides processes around which other reforms can be carved. Improve student achievement and teacher effectiveness as you build a strong school community. With Catching Schools you’ll be sure to catch your school before it falls behind.

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CH. 1 A Good Beginning to School Reform? Schoolwide Reading Improvements

Some Questions to Start the Journey

Why This Works: Research Highlights

Listening to the Language of Change: Quotes from Participants

The Take Away: Similarities Among Schools

What’s Ahead in This Resource

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

Supporting Your Practice: Research Studies to Share

CH. 2 Teaching Reading Well: Essential Content

Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, and Decoding Instruction

Fluency Instruction

Vocabulary Instruction

Comprehension Strategies Instruction

Fostering Comprehension Through High-Level Talk and Writing About Texts

Balanced Reading Instruction

Deepen Your Literacy Content Knowledge

CH. 3 Teaching Practices That Work for Readers

Whole-Class and Small-Group Instruction: The Right Balance is Key

Instructional Purpose and Pacing to Meet Individual Needs

Balancing Teacher and Student Actions

Motivating Learning and Providing Intellectual Challenge

Using Assessments to Evaluate Students’ Abilities, Monitor Their Daily Learning, and Differentiate Instruction to Meet Individual Needs

Providing Culturally Responsive Instruction

Fostering a Positive Classroom Atmosphere


CH. 4 Time to Collaborate

Components of a Schoolwide Reading Program

Putting the Children First

What We Know leads to Success

School-Based Reading Reform: Why Now?


CH. 5 The People Factor: Launching the Meetings and Collaboration

First Step: Share the Vision at a Springtime Presentation to Staff

Key Support Systems

Next Step: Put Together a Leadership Team

The Team’s Purpose and Duties


CH. 6 Assess: Using Data to Inform Your Practice

Student Data: Getting Good at Knowing Each Student’s Progress

Teacher Data: Getting Good at Looking at One’s Reading Instruction

School Data: Reflecting on Collaboration and the School Climate


CH. 7 Idea Swapping: The Vitality of Collaborative Professional Learning

The Purpose of the Study Groups

Providing Study Group Leadership

Additional Professional Learning in Whole-School Sessions

Concluding Thoughts

Research-Based Readings and Resources for Study Groups

CH. 8 The Power of Coaching Conversations

The Coaching Process

Professional Development for Literacy Coordinators

Coaching Tips

Concluding Thoughts

CH. 9 A Closer Look at Once SCR School

Westside’s Challenges

Westside’s Strengths

Actions and Successes at Westside

Actions and Successes in Year 1

Actions and Successes in Year 2

Actions and Success in Year 3




See-It-in-Action Video Clips

Effective Reading Instruction

Data Retreat

Comprehension Study Group

Reading Intervention Study Group

Coaching by a Literacy Coach

Coaching of a Literacy Coach

Peer Coaching

Downloadable Classroom Reproducibles

More than 100 pages of full-size forms and teaching resources



There is no doubt that having just one great teacher can make a difference in the life of a child. But having a series of great teachers can make a much bigger difference. Catching Schools is designed to help every teacher in the school become a better literacy educator and get everyone in the school on the same page in their literacy instruction.

—Nell K. Duke, Michigan State University

No one in the country has done more careful or more serious work on school reform in reading than Barbara Taylor. She knows the research on practices that make a difference in student learning and performance. She knows the curriculum. She knows professional development. And most of all, she knows her way around schools—how to engage teachers, principals, and central office staff to make things happen. This is elementary school reading reform at its best!

—P. David Pearson