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What do Principals REALLY need to know about Reading


Uses many hands-on vocabulary games to encourage children to expand ... the 'Big Fish' in ... The big challenge for the principal is to know his or her ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: What do Principals REALLY need to know about Reading

What do Principals REALLY need to know about
  • Presented by Danielle Harris/NBCT
  • Pittsburgh Public School Reading Coach
  • July 21, 2008

5 Essential Reading Areas (lets start with the
  • Although most principals dont teach reading,
    its critical that they know how reading should
    be taught to evaluate the reading programs in
    their (your) school.
  • Most young students need instruction in 5 areas
    of reading phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency,
    vocabulary, and comprehension.

  • Instruction in phonemics helps children to
    become aware of sounds in spoken words (phonics
    increases awareness of sounds in written words).
    Good phonemics instruction………..
  • Precedes phonics
  • Is most appropriate for younger students
  • Is generally playful, using such activities as
    rhyming words identifying the number of words in
    a phrase or the number of syllables in a word or
    taking part words and putting them together
    (segmenting and blending).

  • Phonics increases awareness of sounds in written
  • Makes up approximately one quarter or less of a
    total reading program
  • Is generally finished by the middle or end of
    second grade
  • Is most appropriate for students whose reading
    styles match the phonics method- in other words,
    those who have the auditory strengths to perform
    phonics tasks
  • Focuses on words, not rules. Good readers decode
    new words by comparing them to patterns within
    words they already know. Good phonics teachers
    draw childrens attention to word patterns and
    provide practice using text containing those
  • May include invented spelling in the early grades.

  • Instruction in fluency is extremely
    important. It is also the most neglected skill
    of the five critical reading areas. Fluent
    readers read rapidly, accurately, and with good
  • Good fluency instruction……
  • Provides many fluid models of reading, live or
  • Encourages non-fluid readers to listen to brief,
    fluid reading models and then to practice the
    modeled passage repeatedly until they can read it
    fluently before reading it aloud to others
  • Uses a variety of assisted reading methods
    (shared reading, echo reading, recorded books,
    choral reading, pair reading), depending on the
    reading level of the student and the difficulty
    of the reading material
  • Provides a variety of high-interest, high-level
    reading materials both on tape and in text so
    that the child can compare printed and spoken

  • Oral and reading vocabularies differ. Oral
    vocabulary refers to the words we understand when
    we hear them and are the words we use when we
    speak. Reading vocabulary refers to those
    printed words that we understand as we read, but
    often do not use. While children learn most of
    their vocabulary indirectly (by listening to
    adults and other children speak, being read to,
    conversing, and reading on their own) students
    with large vocabularies have a better chance of
    comprehending what they read.

Good Vocabulary Instruction
  • Engages children in discussions about words
  • Uses videos, visuals, and anecdotes to expand
    word meaning
  • Provides readings of materials that help students
    become increasingly familiar with a variety of
    high-level words
  • Provides strategies for deciphering unknown
    words, such as understanding prefixes, suffixes,
    and roots
  • Uses many hands-on vocabulary games to encourage
    children to expand their vocabulary

  • Comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading
  • Good comprehension instruction…….
  • Sets the mood of a story and provides
    opportunities for dramatizations
  • Helps students monitor their comprehension by
    asking key questions and modeling the thinking
    process while reading a story
  • Uses organizational pictures of the texts
  • Asks question about what children have read,
    especially questions that require children to
    draw conclusions, make inferences, and predict
  • Teaches children to generate and ask their own
    reading questions
  • Makes children aware of story structure

What else do you need to know…….. (you mean
theres more?)
  • Almost all principals have received training
    in the areas of leadership and management.
    However, most have received little or no training
    in the field of content knowledge in literacy
  • How do principals deliver effective literacy
    instructional leadership?

Essential Areas of Content Knowledge
  • School Culture
  • Craft Leaders
  • Childrens/Content Literature
  • Instructional Models
  • Curricula
  • Options for Organizing Time and Space
  • Assessment/Content Standards
  • Special Interventions
  • Knowledge and Research

Take a deep breath!
School Culture
  • Principals need to understand the significance
    of entrenched philosophical and instructional
    habits that constitute a culture in a school- and
    his or her own power to change that culture.
    Trust teachers to share leadership, and create an
    atmosphere where colleagues listen to one
    another, the students, parents, and YOU!

Craft Leaders
  • Principals need to know the thinkers and
    practitioners in the field of literacy
    instruction who provide fresh ideas and useful
    models. Who are the Big Fish in literacy?
    Encourage teachers to read and expand their
    knowledge by purchasing books, establishing
    monthly book clubs, and referring to specific
    texts. Principals need to read and reflect on
    the best practices of craft leaders when possible.

Childrens Literature
  • In order to create a community of readers,
    principals must actively read not only
    professional literature, but also quality
    childrens literature. What are the popular
    books/series that your students are reading?
    What books are your students reading as part of
    the curriculum. Read them and use this as an
    opportunity to talk with students.

Instructional Models
  • As the primary filter for new programs,
    principals must be familiar with a wide range of
    current instructional models. Principals have to
    help their teachers develop a high level of
    expertise in order to select the best approach
    for each individual students from a wide variety
    of choices, such as Reading workshops, explicit
    phonics, differentiated instruction, Read 180,
    Socratic Seminars, etc. Instructional leaders
    should also explore new, responsive models of
    education, such as writers workshops that
    actively engage students in the experience of
    becoming authors.

  • Principals must also be able to recognize
    whether teachers are using instructional
    strategies effectively. They should know how to
    help teachers learn new instructional methods,
    how to gauge the amount of time it will take for
    teachers to master new techniques, and how to
    network teachers and coaches as they implement
    new approaches. Principals should know enough to
    establish which teachers are doing the best job
    of raising student achievement. Why do students
    learn more in these teachers classrooms?
    Exemplary teachers can deliver model lessons
    and invite other teachers to observe instruction
    in their classroom.

  • The big challenge for the principal is to know
    his or her districts mandated curriculum and
    make sure teachers are able to deliver it. You
    should know the big ideas that should be taught
    in the core curriculum. No one says you need to
    be an expert! You do need to recognize if the
    curriculum is being taught and HOW. Curriculum is
    defined as content, materials, and means of
    assessment, regardless of the delivery.

Options for Organizing Time and Space
  • As the key decision-maker for the use of time
    and space, principals must be aware of how the
    use of time and space affects instruction.
    Models such as literacy blocks (which give large
    chunks of uninterrupted time for instruction in
    reading and writing have proven to be extremely
    useful). Teachers must have time for collegial
    professional development. The learning
    environment of classrooms and hallways should be
    organized by teachers in ways that maximize
    instruction and celebrate students authentic

Assessment/Content Standards
  • Principals need to know how best to use
    assessment data based on relevant content
    standards with teachers, school communities, and
    parents. The focus of assessment should always
    be improving student learning. Teachers should
    always be assessing to monitor student progress
    and inform instruction. Principals can work to
    structure school schedules to provide ample
    opportunity for formative assessment (used by
    teachers during instruction) and for faculty
    meetings where student work can be discussed.

Special Interventions
  • Principals need to take a close look at how
    support is delivered to struggling students and
    how this support is organized. Most children in
    need of extra academic help should receive it
    from highly trained specialists in intense blocks
    of time. Principals must explore all the options
    for making the possible, such as using part of an
    after-school budget to support a reading

Knowledge and Research
  • Principals need to know where to find models,
    data, and organizations that do useful research
    and that can serve as allies to answer questions
    of what works and why.

Whew……..were done!
  • Questions……
  • (only if they are easy!)
  • Comments……
  • (only if they are nice!)
  • Concerns…..
  • (only if they are not for me!)
  • Just kidding! You also HAVE to have
    a sense of humor!
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