Elaine Garan - Smart Answers to Tough Questions
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Below are quotes from Elaine Garan 's Smart Answers to Tough Questions. These quotes are downloadable for your use in PowerPoint slides and overheads. As such, the book can save you a lot of time and trouble scrambling for research to back up the practical methods you are using in your classroom or presenting to an audience beyond your classroom. To help you present credible evidence, Elaine Garan provides background information on the research studies she cites, and includes links to the federally sanctioned studies that frame education policy.

Tip: Quotes are organized by the chapter. To use these quotes, select the chapter from the list below, find the quote, cut and paste the text into your application.

Intro Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 5
Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10

 

Intro

“The instructional techniques for helping . . . . children are well documented in federally backed research and have been available in various forms from specialized tutors and private schools for more than 50 years. Even so, few public schools actually use the best practices” (p. A18).

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Chapter 1

1“The findings support the assumption that . . . children can learn new vocabulary incidentally from having illustrated storybooks read to them. As in previous studies, teachers’ additional explanations of unknown words as they are encountered can more than double vocabulary gains. Furthermore, the evidence from these studies indicates that students who start out with less vocabulary knowledge gain at least as much from the readings as the other students, and that learning is relatively permanent . . . . Several identifiable features in the stories appear to account for [the learning]: the frequency of the occurrence of the word in the story, the helpfulness of the context, and the frequency of the word in pictorial representation” (p. 184).

Elley, W. (1989). Vocabulary acquisition from listening to stories.

Reading Research Quarterly, 24, 174 — 187.

 

“The nature of the interaction (emphasizing active participation) during storybook readings may also have an impact on learning” (p. 4 — 21).

“Studies found that student-initiated talk or active participation was important” (p. 4 — 21).

“Active learning is best” (p. 4 — 26).

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). The report of the National Reading Panel: Report of the subgroups (comprehension). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. The report can be accessed and obtained free at www.nationalreadingpanel.org

 

“The context in which a word is learned is critical. Lists are generally less effective than connected text for learning most vocabulary . . . . Students learn words better if they are actively engaged in the task of inferring vocabulary meanings from context rather than simply being given the definition” (p. 218).

Kamil, M. (2004). Vocabulary and comprehension instruction: Summary and implications of the National Reading Panel findings. In P. McCardle & V. Chhabra (Eds.), The voice of evidence in reading research (pp. 213 — 234). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

 

“The superordinate prevention strategies identified by the committee were: (1) ensuring that all children have access to excellent, language- and literacy-rich school environments” (p. 245).

Snow, C. E. (2000). Brookings papers on education policy: Comment by Catherine Snow on the federal bilingual education program (pp. 244 — 255). Washington, DC: Brookings Institute Press.

 

“One of the things some of our studies do is look at the interactions that occur between moms and dads and kids. When you look at professors working with their kids from birth onward, they’re reading to those kids from day one, typically. They are not only reading, but as they read . . . . they’re pointing out the letters and the sounds. They’re getting the kids to see the relationships between letters and sounds and vocabulary and concepts; they’re extending language . . . . What they’re doing is building not only knowledge of language and print and how all of that goes together, but they’re building brain. We can see kids who don’t have these interactions, and they show us brain development substantially different from kids who do have these interactions . . . . They are kids from disadvantaged families whose parents are working too hard to interact in the ways I just described, who may themselves not read, where there may not be books in the home.”

Lyon, G. R. (2003). Converging evidence, reading research: What it takes to read. Interview with David Boulton for Children of the Code.

Available at www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/lyon.htm#Personal

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Chapter 2

“Round-robin reading forces low-performing children to perform publicly [and] it is boring . . . . I believe that the major problem is that it wastes instructional time . . . . In classes where round-robin reading predominated, children read an average of 6 minutes per day with low-achieving readers often reading less than 2 minutes per day” (p. 190).

Stahl, S. (2004). What do we know about fluency? Findings of the National Reading Panel. In P. McCardle & V. Chhabra (Eds.), The voice of evidence in reading research (pp. 187 — 211). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

 

“These procedures [round-robin reading] have been criticized as boring, anxiety provoking, disruptive of fluency, and a waste of instructional time and their use has been found to have little or no relationship to gains in reading achievement. It is evident that with round-robin procedures students receive little actual practice in reading because no child is allowed to read for very long” (p. 3 — 11).

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). The report of the National Reading Panel: Report of the subgroups (fluency). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. The report can be accessed and obtained free at www.nationalreadingpanel.org

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Chapter 3

“Cueing children to use their knowledge of words to decode unknown words in context is an important reading strategy” (p. 191).

Stahl, S. (2004). What do we know about fluency? Findings of the National Reading Panel. In P. McCardle & V. Chhabra (Eds.), The voice of evidence in reading research (pp. 187 — 211). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

 

“Not only do students need to encounter vocabulary words frequently, but they should also be given items that are likely to appear in other contexts . . . . The context in which a word is learned is critical. Lists are generally less effective than connected text” (p. 218).

 

“Structuring vocabulary instruction to include group learning formats has found empirical support . . . . Vocabulary learning should entail active engagement in learning tasks . . . . Students may learn vocabulary . . . . when they are simply listening to other students respond” (p. 219).

Kamil, M. (2004). Vocabulary and comprehension instruction: Summary and implications of the National Reading Panel findings. In P. McCardle & V. Chhabra (Eds.), The voice of evidence in reading research (pp. 213 — 234). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

 

“Students with self-efficacy believe they have the capability to read well. They approach books with confidence and tackle challenging texts or difficult words with the expectation that they will master them. They have a ‘can do’ approach to reading and learning from text. In contrast, students with low self-efficacy are likely to say, ‘I can’t do it,’ when faced with long passages, unfamiliar text, or new expectations for learning from a book. Without the energizing value of high self-efficacy, students are unable to sustain the effort required to learn reading skills or to become knowledgeable through print” (p. 331).

 

Guthrie, J. T., and Humenick, N. M. (2004). Motivating students to read: Evidence for classroom practices that increase reading motivation and achievement. In P. McCardle & V. Chhabra (Eds.), The voice of evidence in reading research (pp. 329 — 354). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

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Chapter 5

“What is ‘normal instruction’? It often turned out that the kids were assigned random worksheets. What a terrible definition of teaching! Assigning random worksheets is just dopey” (p. 14).

Shanahan, T. (2006, June — July). President’s message: Does he really think kids shouldn’t read? Reading Today.

 

“At all grade levels but particularly in kindergarten and the early grades it is common for children to vary greatly in the skills they bring to school” (Summary Booklet, p. 11).

“It is common for many phonics programs to present a fixed sequence of lessons scheduled from the beginning to the end of the school year” (p. 2-97).

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). The report of the National Reading Panel: Report of the subgroups (phonics)and summary booklet. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. The report can be accessed and obtained free at www.nationalreadingpanel.org

 

“Most of us are familiar with the disadvantages of homework: stress, family conflict, lost time for other activities, and diminution of interest in learning. What’s surprising is that there are actually few, if any, pros to off-set these cons. A review of the latest research (1) finds that homework provides absolutely no academic benefits for younger students, (2) raises serious questions about such benefits for older students, and (3) fails to support the belief that homework promotes independence, responsibility, or good work habits. The interesting question, then, is why we continue to assign, or accept, homework in the absence of supporting data” (p. 74).

Kohn, A. (2006). The homework myth: Why our kids get too much of a bad thing. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.

 

“For too many of our children, instruction fails to ‘engage their minds.’ Children’s minds atrophy with limited stimuli.”

Neuman, S. (2001, July 27). Access to print: Problem, consequences and day-one solutions. Press release on early childhood cognitive development. Washington, DC: Department of Education.

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Chapter 6

“The painful truth is that today’s textbooks fail students—and are directly implicated in the poor showing that U.S. youngsters make in international achievement tests . . . . A 2002 survey of elementary and high school teachers found that about 80 percent use textbooks in their classrooms . . . . They were so dumbed down, and flitted so relentlessly from topic to topic, that American schoolchildren were learning less than their peers.”

Finn, C., & Ravitch, D. (2004). The mad, mad world of textbook adoption. Available from the Fordham Foundation: www.edexcellence.net/institute/publication/publication.cfm?id=335

 

“It takes little imagination to see that student ignorance and disinterest are nurtured by boilerplate writing and chock-a-block, narrative-deprived textbooks. Not surprisingly, these glorified encyclopedias make poor nighttime-reading companions . . . . Invariably, today’s textbooks are described as deadly bores, incapable of telling a story or providing a compelling narrative, and lacking any author’s voice.

“Instead, students struggle through coffee-table-style textbooks, weighed down with graphics, editorial cartoons, sidebars, color illustrations, boxes, and goofy exercises. These door-stoppers—which average 750 to 1,100 pages in length—are so heavy that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned that an ‘overweight backpack’ phenomenon may be sending thousands of children to emergency rooms with back and neck injuries . . . .

“Every reviewer of American textbooks reports that they consist of politically blanched, dumbed-down text, larded with disconnected facts that are sometimes erroneous and not infrequently misleading.”

Finn, C., & Ravitch, D. (2004). The mad, mad world of textbook adoption.

Available from the Fordham Foundation: www.edexcellence.net/institute/publication/publication.cfm?id=335

 

“Reading instruction is most effective when teachers actively monitor students as they are reading by ‘cueing children to use their knowledge of words to decode unknown words in context’ (Clay, 1993) and assisting them in recognizing and correcting miscues” (p. 209).

Stahl, S. (2004). What do we know about fluency? Findings of the National Reading Panel. In P. McCardle & V. Chhabra (Eds.), The voice of evidence in reading research (pp. 187 -— 211). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

 

“The lack of attention to motivational factors by researchers in the design of phonics programs [as part of a basal reading series] is potentially very serious because debates about reading instruction often boil down to concern about the ‘relevance’ and ‘interest value’ of how something is being taught, rather than specific content of what is being taught” (p. 2-97).

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). The report of the National Reading Panel: Report of the subgroups (phonics). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. The report can be accessed and obtained free at www.nationalreadingpanel.org

 

“The schools are barraged with commercial products and gurus who come through with some new product or magic cure for children’s reading needs. We must stop looking for ‘the magic bullet’ because there is none.”

A quote from Timothy Shanahan on the video entitled Teaching Children to Read, 2nd edition, distributed by the National Reading Panel. Shanahan was a member of the NRP and was appointed to George W. Bush’s federal Literacy Panel. The video is available for free at www.nationalreadingpanel.org . Click Documents to order.

 

“Structuring vocabulary instruction to include group learning formats has found empirical support . . . . Vocabulary learning should entail active engagement in learning tasks . . . . Students may learn vocabulary . . . . when they are simply listening to other students respond.”

Kamil, M. (2004). Vocabulary and comprehension instruction: Summary and implications of the National Reading Panel findings. In P. McCardle & V. Chhabra (Eds.), The voice of evidence in reading research (pp. 213 — 234). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

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Chapter 7

“There is widespread agreement in the literature that encouraging students to engage in wide, independent, silent reading increases reading achievement. Literally hundreds of correlational studies find that the best readers read the most and that poor readers read the least. These correlational studies suggest that the more children read, the better their reading vocabulary and comprehension” (p. 12).

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). The report of the National Reading Panel: Summary booklet. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. The report can be accessed and obtained free at www.nationalreadingpanel.org

 

“Teachers should arrange for students to choose their own books or other reading materials for at least 30 minutes of independent reading every day with books of the students’ own choice” (p. 201).

“The more time students spend ‘with eyes on text,’ or doing engaged reading, the better readers they become” (p. 190).

Stahl, S. (2004). What do we know about fluency? Findings of the National Reading Panel. In P. McCardle & V. Chhabra (Eds.), The voice of evidencein reading research (pp. 187 — 211). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

Stahl’s quote of the phrase “eyes on text” is from the following source:

Berliner, D. C. (1981). Academic learning time and reading achievement. In J. T. Guthrie (Ed.), Comprehension and teaching: Research reviews (pp. 203 — 226). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

 

“[Teachers should] schedule independent reading and writing periods in literacy-rich classrooms [to] provide children with opportunities to select books of their own choosing. They may engage in the social activities of reading with their peers, asking questions and writing stories.”

Neuman, S. B. (2001, November). What research reveals: Foundations of reading instruction in preschool and primary education. Washington, DC: United States Department of Education. I highly recommend that you get it online, at www.rmcres.com/documents/what-_research_reveals.pdf

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Chapter 8

“Despite the popularity of AR, we must conclude that there is no real evidence supporting it, no evidence that the additional tests and rewards add anything to the power of simply supplying access to high-quality and interesting reading material and providing time for children to read them” (p. 24).

Krashen, S. D. (2002). Accelerated Reader: Does it work? If so, why? School Libraries in Canada, 22(2), 24 — 27.

 

“The studies that do exist are of questionable quality and they do not show that AR is more effective than other methods. The NRP does not recommend the use of AR” (p. 3-26).

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000).

The report of the National Reading Panel: Report of the subgroups (fluency). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

 

“For all practical purposes, the AR quizzes that appear on the computer screen are electronic versions of the questions that used to be listed at the end of reading passages or on worksheets in basal reading series of the past. The psychometric properties of the instrument make it more like a standardized testing situation than a rich forum for reflecting on text. Shouldn’t we be raising questions about basalizing and standardizing literature in the name of record keeping, about confirming only that the book was read and understood at a very minimal level? If the key to the AR program is the point system, then what does this say about what it means to comprehend a book?” (p. 4).

“A research question worth exploring asks if the design of Accelerated Reader has an effect on children’s meaning-making strategies over the long and short terms” (p. 5).

Labbo, L. D. (1999, November). Questions worth asking about the Accelerated Reader: A response to Topping. Available at www.readingonline.org/critical/labbo/

 

The following quote is from the federally sponsored book The Voice of Evidence in Reading Research:

“The term ‘motivate’ does not point to mere frills, fun, or transitory excitement, but to a cognitive commitment to learning to read and extending one’s aesthetic experience. Motivation then is not isolated from the language or cognitive processes of reading, but gives energy and direction to them” (p. 329).

Guthrie, J. T., and Humenick, N. M. (2004). Motivating students to read: Evidence for classroom practices that increase reading motivation and achievement. In P. McCardle & V. Chhabra (Eds.), The voice of evidence in reading research (pp. 329 — 354). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

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Chapter 9

“Phonics is but a tool. A means to an end . . . . Phonics instruction that focus[es] too much on the teaching of letter-sounds and not enough on putting them to use is unlikely to be effective” (p. 2-97).

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Chapter 10

“What do we mean when we say a method works? In some studies a method works if children are able to read lists of words in isolation. In others ‘works’ means that children can answer questions on a multiple-choice test. If there is anything we have learned from methods studies, it is that children learn what we teach them (Pearson & Fielding, 1991). If we teach them how to pronounce pseudowords, they learn how to pronounce pseudowords and sometimes lists of regular words. If we teach children to summarize, they learn how to give better summaries. Therefore, many methods have a right to claim they ‘work,’ but that does not necessarily mean that any of these methods are better than all or most other methods or that any one of them is the ‘right’ method. For all these reasons beginning reading instruction has been controversial” (p. 3).

International Reading Association. (1999). Using multiple methods of beginning reading instruction: A position statement of the International Reading Association.

 

“It has become crystal clear to me that children learn phonics best after they can already read. I am convinced that the reason our good readers are good at phonics is that in their being able to read they can intuitively make sense of phonics. When phonics is isolated as the main method of teaching, students are prevented from utilizing natural meaningful processes. Reading is then viewed as a word-by-word process which is quite inefficient, nonsensical, and frustrating” (p. 44).

Routman, R. (1988). Transitions. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

 

“[As a result of phonics instruction,] comprehension of text was not significantly improved for ‘older students’ (above first grade)” (p. 9).

“Systematic phonics instruction failed to exert a significant impact on the reading performance of low-achieving readers in 2nd through 6th grade” (p. 88).

“Phonics instruction appears to contribute only weakly, if at all, in helping poor readers apply these (decoding skills) to read text and to spell words” (p. 108).

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). The report of the National Reading Panel: Report of the subgroups (comprehension). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. The report can be accessed and obtained free at www.nationalreadingpanel.org

 

“Given the tremendous variations from school to school and implementation to implementation, we should be very clear that the prescription of a method can never in itself guarantee the best of all possible outcomes” (pp. 38–39).

Adams, M. J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

 

“[The report did not] single out any one way to teach reading. Rather, multiple ways were found to be effective” (p. 4).

Ehri, L. C. (2001, June/July). National Reading Panel Report: Work praised, but distortion fears persist [Interview]. Reading Today.

 

“Many of our educational pundits appear to believe there are universal approaches to instruction and development of curricular materials which will work for all children under all conditions . . . . Depending on these variables as well as the degree of motivation and prior knowledge brought to the task of learning to read, it is highly likely that some approaches to instruction should be better for some children and different approaches should work better for other children” (p. 390).

Samuels, S. J. (1984). Editorial. Reading Research Quarterly, 19, 390 — 92.

 

“It is important to recognize that children will acquire phonemic awareness and phonics in the course of learning to read and spell even though they are not taught PA explicitly” (p. 2-43).

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). The report of the National Reading Panel: Report of the subgroups. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

 

“If we’re talking about teaching here, certainly one fundamental notion that would need to be stressed is how complex literacy is. Frankly, it’s that complexity that you have to introduce to kids. It’s not, ‘We’ll work up to the complexity.’ We actually start there” (p. 14).

Shanahan, T. (2006). The personal and social implications of literacy and literacy instruction. An interview with David Boulton. Available at www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/shanahan.htm

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