“Effective listening is the single most powerful thing you can do to build and maintain a climate of trust and collaboration. Strong listening skills are the foundation for all solid relationships.” -Michelle Tillis Lederman

Eighty percent of our waking hours are spent in some form of communication and most of that communication is speaking and listening (Wilt, 1950 as cited in Hyslop & Bruce, 1989). What does this mean for a literacy rich classroom? After reading that quote it made me think about the amount of time I spent teaching students the skills of speaking and listening. If I’m honest…


“Students are readers of the past and present so they can become authors of the future.” — Dr. Ernest Morrell

I love that quote above! Everyone has a story that is uniquely their own and want to share it. Some people want to share it outloud verbally and others are more quiet but still have a burning desire to share their story. Writing is the vehicle for them to say what they want to say. In previous posts I have shared about my writing journey. I was a reluctant writer. I didn’t feel that I was a good writer, but…


The most important thing about communication is hearing what isn’t said.” — Peter Drucker

This series has focused on the many aspects of engaging children to be readers. One important aspect of that is digital media. Education in the 21st Century must include teaching responsible digital media engagement. So what does that mean or look like? According to Dr. Ernest Morrell, research from the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatricians, “talk about the negative health outcomes that are associated with overexposure and uncritical consumption of mainstream media. Some of those include sleep problems, depression, anxiety, and eating…


“Thinking is skilled work. It is not true that we are naturally endowed with the ability to think clearly and logically — without learning how, or without practicing.” — A.E. Mander

How we read is just as important as what we read. That is why it is critically important that students learn the mechanics of reading (phonics) and to comprehend or understand what they read. We must always take a balanced approach. It is important to not over emphasize phonics for early readers. …


“Practice makes permanent” — Bobby Robson

Yesterday I discussed how important focus and stamina are and how that equates to practice. If you want to improve at anything you have to practice! There is a saying, practice makes perfect. I like this adaptation much better, practice makes permanence. Trying to achieve perfection is an unattainable goal and we should not be sending that message to students. However, practicing to make something permanent is definitely achievable. It equates to muscle memory. That’s why it is so important to practice things correctly as opposed to incorrectly.

Stephen Krashen (2004) found that students’…


“Focus on progress not perfection” — Bill Phillips

I have spent the majority of my career learning and thinking about literacy, specifically as it relates to struggling readers. Why do some readers struggle? Why does it come so easily for others? I am not a researcher, I am a practitioner. Practitioner is defined as a person actively engaged in an art, discipline, or profession. Throughout this series on Engaging Children to be Readers, I have been focused on how to build a solid foundation as a reader. What are the necessary components that need to be in place for a…


Children are made readers on the laps of their parents” — Emilie Buchwald

What do powerful ELA classrooms look like? If asked, could you define the most powerful literacy practices in a classroom? I would like to highlight what I believe to be those powerful practices starting in this blog post and continuing in subsequent ones. The first and to me one of the most powerful is interactive read aloud.

Interactive Read Aloud

Powerful literacy classrooms spend a significant amount of time dedicated to interactive or teacher read aloud. During the read aloud, teachers are demonstrating or modeling how to…


Children need to be creators with technology not consumers” — Jill Bromenschenkel

When I was working as a literacy coach roughly ten years ago, I had the opportunity to work with an inspiring educator, Jill Bromenschenkel. At the time, Jill was a consultant working with the district I worked for. Jill was supporting a technology integration initiative as well as training teachers and leaders on EL strategies.

Let me set the stage a bit, what education was like in regard to technology ten years ago. Classrooms were being outfitted with interactive SMART boards. You were fortunate if you had a…


A teacher is also a student” — David McConkie

This phrase has served me well throughout my career as I often look as myself as a learner to see when my learning is at its peak and when it isn’t. What am I doing in those moments of success and those moments when I am struggling.

In yesterday’s post I discussed one of the five necessary ingredients for successful engagement, purpose. Today we’re going to look at the key to the process, engagement. What does successful engagement look like?

Engagement — the act of engaging or the state of being…


“Content without purpose is only trivia!” — Steve Revington

In yesterday’s post I honed in on the five ingredients necessary for learning to happen in regard to reading. I discussed what happens when students lack confidence in themselves and their ability and the devastating effect it can have.

Today we’re going to take a look at the ingredient of purpose or relevance and how this impacts students who want to succeed and can succeed but still fail.

One thing you will notice about me as an educator is I like to keep things simple, easy and relevant. My goal is…

Learning for Life

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