Archive | Unite for Literacy

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The Elephant in the (Class) Room

My position on recent literacy teaching practices reflects the ancient tale of the six blind men and the elephant. Each man encountered a different part of the elephant, but not the whole, which resulted in each having a very limited understanding of the entirety of that magnificent creature. The elephant can only be understood by appreciating […]

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The Girl on the Train…with a Book

I’m all about reading books and enjoying the unique powers that they provide. Because of my personal love of the written word, I often take candid photos of others reading in interesting places. So when I saw a woman reading while sitting across the aisle from me on a commuter train outside of Washington D.C., I was intrigued. […]

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Children Must Learn how to Understand

I recently saw the cute T-shirt  shown here. Even with an explanation, understanding what we hear or read often requires some work on our parts. Of course, in repetitive, familial interactions, small children learn how to understand, how to make sense of things. That ability grows with the complexity of the learning they take on. “Give […]

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Authentic Literacy Lessons Made Simple

Daily reading with children ensures that they develop a full and delightful culture of reading, setting the stage for them to become lifelong learners. But long-term learning is not just about reading. It is about all of literacy, reading and writing. As adults, we can stimulate children’s interests, but kids are the ones who ultimately decide what to play […]

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(Arithmetic ≠ Mathematics) + (Reading ≠ Literacy)

*Click on images to see larger version. Forty-some years ago I joined the International Reading Association (IRA), a huge collection of reading educators from all over the world. I also joined the National Reading Conference (NRC), which was a rather small organization of reading researchers. Members of these organizations met to share what they’ve been up […]

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Culture is Everything

Certain family cultures make the likelihood of success in school and beyond more accessible than others. The culture of which I speak is not about ethnicity, parental education, income or language, though. It’s about the prevalence and prominence of book reading in the families, regardless of any other cultural group to which they might belong. […]

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How to Use Magic to Grow Lifelong Learners

Many kids can read just fine, they just don’t read books. This is not okay, because books are irreplaceable sources of learning, language and literacy development. Consider that twenty-seven percent of adults were willing to share that they did NOT read a book last year. Non-reading kids grow up to become non-reading adults.  Of course, many circumstances contribute to […]

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Children Learning to ask Great Questions

The qualities of the questions we ask children are important. From them, kids learn to ask and answer good questions or to remain silent. There are Direct questions, which focus upon verifiable answers. Questions we hope even young kids can correctly answer are designed to ensure that a student / child is processing experiences productively and that expanding their thinking. […]

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The Primacy of “Mother Language”

This week the world celebrates International Mother Tongue Day. February 21st is the date designated in 1999 by the United Nations to recognize the primacy of the home language in everyone’s culture. That language in turn is the most comprehensive path to the full understanding of a people and their values. The commitment of this […]

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The Magic of Letters

Letters are magic. No, not alphabet letters. I mean  “snail mail.” Handcrafted letters are slow motion conversations across space and time that share emotions, events and ideas using paper and print. They have the gravity to split time into “before the letter arrived” and “after the letter arrived.” They provide us with an invisible asynchronous connection with other people. The first time a […]