Conference Talk - Mentor Text Linky - Teachers Taking Care of Teachers

So, I thought that when I came to the IRA conference I would have all kinds of free time to hang out, blog, create, catch up on work, etc.  It turns out that's not true at all!  This is my first conference that has lasted over several days so I had no idea how intense it could be.  I wake up at 6 AM, eat breakfast, walk to the conference center, figure out where I need to be (because the conference center is HUGE and there are at least 50 sessions going on at any given time to choose from), and continue until 4, 5, or 6 depending on when the last session I choose ends.  Then I grab dinner, walk back to the hotel, and I'm ready to crash!  

So I haven't even done my lesson plans yet. I have one more day since I have a sub still tomorrow.  On that note, I'm jealous of the people who can make those pretty visual plans.  We use an online lesson planner called Eduphoria.  It isn't pretty at all.  We do lesson plans together and since I'm team leader, it's my responsibility to get them in the team planner.  Then we transfer them to our own planners and adjust as needed.  Therefore, to make visual plans, I'd need to do my lesson plans THREE times.  No thanks, twice is more than enough!

Has anyone every heard of Richard Allington?  He is like my new idol.  It's weird, I had never heard of him until I was assigned to read an article by him for a class.  Then I realized I had a book by him I had never read.  This one:

I picked up the book, started reading it, and literally kept reading it until I was finished.  Then I passed it on to my principal with the hopes he would read it because I really have no idea how my school addresses RTI, but that is a whole other story.

Anyway, I got to see him speak today and he was great!  He (and his books) are very blunt and to the point.  He very simply believes all children can learn to read and that classroom teachers can teach all children to read...we (including the government, admins, not just teachers) just screw everything up and do things that don't make sense. He also believes that teachers need more professional development in how to teach kids to read, especially at the K-1 level because some teachers just don't know how and then kids end up being retained or referred.  He is really inspiring and makes you feel like you need to do a lot more to make a difference.  Here are some things that he said today:

*We have known for at least 40 years that workbooks and test prep have no impact on student achievement.

*90% of poor children who leave third grade reading on grade level do graduate on time, regardless of home language, wealth, etc.  90% of students who failed to graduate failed to be reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade.

*Classroom reading lessons matter.  Noneffective lessons and teachers result in students being retained and referred to special education.

*ALL students should be able to be taught in the regular classroom.  There should be no need for special ed, ELL, or reading teachers.  Many regular education teachers feel it is not their job to educate these students. 

*Kindergarten teachers need to have ALL kids knowing ALL letter names and sounds by Halloween.  Kindergarten students need to have writing paper and pencils on the second day of school. 

*Far too many K-1 teachers do not have the expertise to teach kids to read.  20% are effective.  20% are ineffective.  60% love children and the children learn to read because they do not need to rely on the teacher to do so.  1:5 primary grade teachers…everyone learns to read. 

*Paraprofessionals are NOT effective and have no impact on teaching children to read.  

*Reading failure is linked to ineffective reading lessons.  We wait too long for children to catch up or get ready to learn to read.  We have not provided struggling readers with intensive and expert reading lessons.

*If your teachers need a test to see how their kids are doing, then you hired the wrong damn teachers.

*Kids need high success reading to develop as readers.  Extensive, independent, self-selected reading for 30 minutes a day produces faster fluency growth than repeated readings and also improves vocabulary and engagement.

*Better outcomes when kids talk to a peer than when kids spend the same amount of time highlighting information after reading.  10 minutes of conversation produces more growth than 30 minutes of strategy instruction.  Finding holds regardless of reading levels, home language, or income level.

*Understanding is different than remembering.  Reading without comprehension is not understanding.  Going back and locating the answer is not comprehension!

Six Principles

Every day every child:
Will read many things they have selected themselves
Will read something accurately
Will read something they understand
Will talk to peers about their reading and writing
Will write something that is meaningful
Will listen to a fluent adult read aloud

Okay, so that's a lot of what he said.  Believe it or not, I have more notes and for some reason I love reading and listening to this.  Maybe because I have this huge desire to change reading instruction at my school and I tend to be very blunt about things like this as well.  I'd be the first one to stand up and tell whomever that the basal is garbage and the way my school approaches reading instruction is not correct.  I've had a really hard time readjusting to teaching in Texas and feel like I have gone backwards, especially in my teaching of reading, since moving here, so I love being around people who are passionate about things like this.  And everything he said and posted had supporting research!  Next up I need to read this book.  It's fairly new.

Moving on...


It's time for Collaboration Cuties weekly mentor text linky.  This week's theme is science.  I can't think of any specific books I want to focus on because I don't teach science anymore and all I can think of right now are author's or series.  I love Gail Gibbons and the Who Would Win series by Jerry Pallotta that others have mentioned.  The Let's Read About Science series is also great.

But, just recently we used the National Geographic Kids book series on animals while completing research and they were great.  I seriously took every single one from my public library, like 40 of them, and brought them into school so the kids could have them to use in addition to the books in the classroom and our school library.

They have a table of contents, heading, index, glossary, and all the other text features we teach the kids about.  They are also written at three different levels and the level two books were just right for my second graders.  Some are sold by Scholastic so I even use them in guided reading if I have multiple copies.  The photos are great, there are diagrams, and everything covered is written in a way that engages young kids, but factual at the same time.

Creative in Kinder is hosting a fundraiser for the teachers of West, Texas.  If you donate $25 or more, you will receive over $150 worth of Teachers Pay Teachers products.  Check it out.  It's for a great cause and I feel like the tragedy was overshadowed because of all that happened in Boston.

Head on over to This Little Piggy Reads and enter the 150 follower giveaway.  You can enter to win three different prize packs, one of which included my spring dictionary activities.  Click the button above (which is super cute!) to find the post.


  1. Wow! I'm so glad that you are at such a wonderful conference! There have been times I've sat through professional development and been so disappointing. I love when I feel inspired...I feel a book study coming on!!! I'd join you!!

    I like all Gail Gibbons books and I've learned a little about the Who Would Win series today too! I like the National Geographic books as well! I got a whole set at Sams for really cheap recently and haven't figure out how I'm going to use them yet!

    Thanks for linking up even though you don't teach science! We appreciate it!! :O)

    Have fun! (although those lesson plans are not sounding so fun!)
    Collaboration Cuties

  2. I just copied all of your quotes from Richard Allington for my next PLC! They make you think! We got rid of our basal two years ago and our kids have done amazing things ever since. Thanks for the reminder :)
    Polka Dot Kinders

  3. Ha! I copied all of your quotes too! Thank you so much for sharing about him!

  4. Thank you so much for this very informative post- I've regularly read Richard Allington's articles and quotes and I do find that he has so many basic, great concepts when it comes to teaching reading! I hope you are able to bring lots of your ideas that you learned back to your school so you feel more connected to teaching reading again. :)
    I've been looking for a new "struggling reader" book to read to help improve my own teaching of reading and to share with others and I think I may have just found it with the 2nd book you mentioned- thanks!!
    Learning to the Core

  5. Regarding Student Reading: As a special ed. teacher in elementary, this is why I am always really reluctant having students pushed into my room too quickly. Once they get there it can be tough to get out and we know where many of these kids end up as they get older (high school-wise, college prepared).

    thanks for this
    Digital: Divide & Conquer

  6. Thank you for the detailed information about Richard Allington's presentation. I just read an article by him in the Reading Teacher. It seems similar to his presentation. I was extremely inspired by the article and passed it on to other Title 1 reading teachers and our elementary language arts curriculum director. Like you, I hope the information inspires change!

    Eclectic Educating

  7. I'm so jealous of everyone that's at the IRA conference. :). I'm determined that I will be there next year. ;). I wanted to add that we love National Geographic's books and magazines. Thanks for sharing! Creating Lifelong Learners

  8. I need to purchase his book for a summer read. I teach here in Texas, and have been blessed to be in a district that hasn't used basals since I was hired over 7 years ago. We use Guided Reading and CAFE. I'm always on a quest to figure out how to become a better Reading teacher.


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