How Should We Combine Reading and Writing?

  • 23 February, 2017

Blast from the Past: This entry first posted on February 23, 2017 and was reposted on September 16, 2023. Currently our children are suffering the aftereffects of the COVID tragedy. School leaders are looking for ways to regain learning loss caused by a lack of teaching. One of the strategies often considered in times like these is to simplify the curriculum – strip away what may not be essential to allow a greater focus on what needs to be accomplished. In that context, I would not be surprised to see some schools jettisoning writing in favor of the much-tested reading. The tendency to go that way may even be worsened by the current heavy emphasis on a "science of reading." What is important to recognize – this blog entry originally included reference to a great deal of research on the topic, research supporting the value of teaching reading and writing together -- is that combining reading and writitng is part of the science of reading. Now, several years later, I can say that the research evidence has continued to accumulate – providing more and more reason for the combined teaching of reading and writing. If you want better reading scores, the science of reading says do not neglect writing, nor dispatch it to someplace else in the curriculum. When you feel especially pressured to improve reading achievement, that is the time to embrace more tightly the combination of reading and writing.

Teacher question:     

So today I was conducting a workshop. I was told the teachers wanted information about reading/writing connections. Easy, right? Then I was told that they departmentalize K-6! At every grade they have a reading teacher and a different writing teacher. Any thoughts, comments, best practices, or research that would go against or support this practice? I know what I believe to be correct but would love to have your opinions in this conversation.

Shanahan response:


For the past several years I’ve been complaining about how schools are organizing themselves regarding reading and writing. These days, the most common elementary school organization seems to be the 90-minute reading block, with writing taught some other time of the day (if at all). And, in middle schools and high schools many schools have readers’ and writers’ workshops—managed by different teachers.

I think both of those schemes are dopey and counterproductive.

But you’ve found a structure that is even worse!

These folks sound like the type of people that would separate Romeo and Juliet... Yin and Yang....Lennon and McCartney... love and marriage... Bert and Ernie...spaghetti and meatballs... You get the idea.

Reading and writing are related in many ways. And, though teachers can take advantage of these relationships in ways that can improve achievement, doing that would be very difficult and inefficient when taught separately as in your example.

The combination of reading and writing doesn’t just change instruction—it can affect the curriculum itself. For instance, the Common Core State Standards require teachers to teach kids how to combine reading and writing for various purposes.

I wondered if this is a CCSS state? (your letter didn’t specify). If so, that would be one of my big questions—how are they teaching kids to write about reading? Perhaps those goals can be accomplished within this odd organizational plan, but that would require a great deal of cross-classroom planning (the kind of planning that tends to impinge on teachers’ personal time—and that rarely happens, no matter what the theory).

Admittedly, I’m aware of no studies that directly measure the impact of such organization, and the organizational studies that do exist suggest that organizational plans usually don’t matter much in terms of learning. I guess I could praise this district at least for teaching writing—there are still too many places that haven’t figured out the need for that yet.

However, a major purpose for teaching writing is its strong impact on reading achievement. Recently, some administrators who had been discouraging writing in their districts contacted me. Their concern was that writing took up a lot of time and their state was heavily stressing reading achievement. Time devoted to writing would “obviously” interfere with reaching their reading goals. They wanted to know why I was telling their teachers that writing was a must.

I explained to them that there were several reasons behind my urgings.

First, research shows that reading and writing are closely aligned. That is, reading and writing depend upon many of the same skills, strategies, and knowledge—though those are deployed in different ways in reading and writing. In fact, about 70% of the variation in reading and writing abilities are shared.

For example, to read one must decode words. That means being able to look at the word, recognize its elements (letters and letter combinations), retrieve associated pronunciations for those letters, and to blend those into a word pronunciation. For that to work, of course, you have to do that very quickly—and eventually with little conscious attention.

In contrast, to write one must spell words. That means being able to listen to the pronunciation of a word, to recognize its elements (phonemes—that is language sounds), to retrieve letters that match those sounds, and to recognize whether they are combining properly to make a well-formed word. And, again, fluency is essential.

Decoding is arguably easier than spelling, but learning to both pronounce and spell words simultaneously helps to increase decoding fluency. It provides a kind of overlearning that enhances one’s ability. The same argument can be made concerning phonological awareness, and the use of vocabulary, grammar, text structure, tone, and other text elements—and the same kinds of connections exist between the routines one uses to pull up background knowledge, to set purposes, to predict, and so on.

Given the extensive overlaps, it should be evident that combined instruction would be a lot more efficient. When a school is trying to accomplish higher achievement that kind of efficiency and teaching power is indispensable.

Second, reading and writing are communicative processes, and there are cross-modal benefits to be derived from having students engage in each. Readers, who are writers, can end up with insights about what authors are up to and how they exert their effects, something of great value in text interpretation. Likewise, writers by being readers, can gain insights into the needs of other readers. Imagine how that can help one to write better.

This kind of insight sharing is unlikely without some teacher guidance—and making those kinds of connections across reading and writing experiences depends on sharing those experiences with the students. It would be hard for a teacher to know what came up in the various shared reading experiences that took place in the other class.

Third, reading and writing can be used in combination to accomplish goals. The Common Core emphasizes two goals for such combining: using writing to improve learning from text and using the reading of multiple texts to improve the writing of syntheses or reports. 

Steve Graham and Michael Hebert (201) carried out a meta-analysis of more than 100 studies in which students wrote about text. They found that writing in various ways about what one had read improved comprehension and learning, and it did so better than reading alone, reading and rereading, or reading and discussing.

Students should not just be writing about text, they should be learning how to write about text effectively: how to write to text models, how to write summaries, how to write extended critiques and analyses, and how to write syntheses.

So, my reading of the research says: Teach kids to write and use this instruction to improve reading achievement. Do it separately and you are leaving achievement points on the table. No question this could be accomplished by two different teachers, but what a complicated mess that makes of it. Simplify.

(Pass the popcorn and butter, I'm going to watch some Laurel and Hardy. Some things just go together).


Graham, S., & Hebert, M. (2010). Writing to read: Evidence of how writing can improve reading. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

Shanahan, T. (2004). Overcoming the dominance of communication: Writing to think and learn. In T. L. Jetton and J. A. Dole (Eds.), Adolescent literacy research and practice. New York: Guilford Press.

Shanahan, T. (2008). Relations among oral language, reading, and writing development. In C.A. MacArthur, S. Graham, and J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of writing research (pp. 171-186). New York: Guilford Press.

Shanahan, T. (2015). Relationships between reading and writing development. In C.A. MacArthur, S. Graham, and J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of writing research (2nd ed., pp. 194-210). New York: The Guilford Press.

Tierney, R. J., and Shanahan, T. (1991). Research on the reading-writing relationship: Interactions, transactions, and outcomes. In R. Barr, M. L. Kamil, P. Mosenthal, and P. D. Pearson (Eds.), Handbook of reading research (pp. 246-280). New York: Longman.


See what others have to say about this topic.

Karen Apr 05, 2017 05:46 PM

Any recommendations on structuring this at the junior high level where the master schedule rules everything and there's less opportunity for integration? I have a specific reason for asking this. I teach in a super small district, and a few years ago we went from our middle school kids having one reading and one ELA class each day to having just one 45 minute ELA period. We have a lot of kids reading below grade level, so the district is considering moving me from 5th grade (where I teach reading and writing in the integrated manner you recommend in this post) to the junior high so our kids can have reading classes again. The principal has asked for recommendations on how to schedule this. The current junior high ELA teacher and I were thinking that I would teach reading while she would focus on grammar and writing in ELA. Another option would be for me to teach reading and ELA for 6th grade, the other teacher to teach reading and ELA for 8th, and split 7th grade with me teaching on How Should We Combine Reading and Writing? Feb 27, 2017

Timothy Shanahan Apr 05, 2017 05:47 PM

Karen-- In a way you are asking me a question that there can be no satisfactory answer to. 45 minutes is simply not enough time to teach students what we want them to know about reading and writing. I would argue for a double English period, and the division could be with one devoted to reading and one to writing. That would help a lot... but I would argue for more reading and writing work in the various content classes to supplement the ELA classes. But what if the district just likes having high goals with no commensurate investment in possible success (like wanting kids to be college and career ready up the road, but only devoting 45 mins. per day to reading)...even then I would find a way to use some of the time for writing. Even with low readers. hope that makes sense. tim 2/27/17

Jamie Cox Sep 16, 2023 02:31 PM

I am a first grade teacher in Alabama. After completing 2 years of LETRS training on the science of reading and writing I am convinced that the two should be taught in connection. What are your thoughts on how to do that with first graders? Can you recommend any professional books or guides to help me in planning these lessons. We use Open Court for phonics/spelling and comprehension, but I’m not sure that the writing part of Open Court is sufficient.

Ann Christensen Sep 16, 2023 02:42 PM

Your work on the reciprocity between reading and writing is so powerful. Beginning readers’ first work at encoding strengthens their grasp on how reading works. Teaching for transfer is important for children to notice that words are stable, structures are recognizable and reproducible, and that writers inspire other writers. I am often in classrooms where children’s writing is years behind their reading…and their reading is below grade level. Teachers add more time for explicit phonics lessons when time for writing would add the flexibility and understanding that is lacking.
Thank you for repeating this information.

Timothy Shanahan Sep 16, 2023 02:43 PM


Try Charles Temple's Beginnings of Writing.


Ann Christensen Sep 16, 2023 02:51 PM

My book, Building Strong Foundations for Early Literacy, has a chapter on emerging writing that is specifically focused on K-2. Writing instruction for primary children can be connected to read aloud text sets as well as the topics and structures of their current reading texts.
Ann Christensen

Tammy Elser Sep 16, 2023 03:37 PM

I am so grateful for this post! This is my area of study for decades now and what I observe with very young emergent readers is stronger transference from encoding to decoding! The reverse of what most programs and approaches promote. My grad students demonstrated really remarkable and statistically significant gains implementing writing opportunities daily in their ELA instruction. Outcomes were even higher when students could control topic (but after a read aloud and discussion). Tim, you shared with me Wasowicz (2021) Language Literacy Network earlier this summer. It provided a thoughtful developmental model and based on my 35+ years of research and observation, a highly consistent account of the critical beneficial role of early writing. I have been looking to Ouellette and Senechals research on spelling (2017) and a very teacher friendly text that followed by Ouellette and Gentry called Brain Words. So much research pointing to this often abandoned and powerful approach. I hope you will do more on the reciprocal relationship between writing and reading!

Dr. Bill Conrad Sep 16, 2023 04:20 PM

Thanks for providing us the bread and butter on reading and writing! Well done and with humor. It never ceases to amaze me how educators shoot themselves in the foot by not following common sense and evidence-based approaches to reading! Sooner or later folks will come around! It’s always up and down in education! With some give and take and your astute advice, reading and writing will go together like a horse and carriage! OK. I’ll stop now! On again! Off again!

Harriett Janetos Sep 16, 2023 04:37 PM

Here's more support for Tammy's points about the power of encoding from an article that David Share (the self-teaching hypothesis) co-authored, "Spelling as a self-teaching mechanism in orthographic learning." The authors write:

"The present study examined the possibility that spelling fulfils a self-teaching function in the acquisition of orthographic knowledge because, like decoding, it requires close attention to letter order and identity as well as to word-specific spelling–sound mapping. We hypothesised that: (i) spelling would lead to significant (i.e. above-chance) levels of orthographic learning; (ii) spelling would actually result in superior learning relative to reading owing to the additional processing demands invoked when spelling; (iii) there would be stronger outcomes for post-test spelling production compared with spelling recognition; and (iv) relative to reading, spelling would produce superior orthographic learning in the case of later-occurring orthographic detail compared with information appearing earlier in the letter string. . .These data highlight yet another dimension of reading–writing reciprocity by suggesting that spelling offers a powerful self-teaching tool in the compilation of word-specific orthographic representations.

To recap, we predicted not only that spelling a novel word would lead to significant orthographic learning but also that spelling would actually be superior to reading (i.e. decoding)."

Donald Potter Sep 16, 2023 04:38 PM

This is great. I have been preaching and practicing this for over 32 year in my classroom instruction and private tutoring. How about Dick and Jane and Alice and Jerry! Along with Spot and Jip! By the way, Alice & Jerry are still in print after 85 years. Does anyone think the new HMH Into Reading will be around 85 years? I doubt it will survive the current adoption!

Betty Clemens Sep 16, 2023 07:25 PM

As always, I love your comments. Too bad states are not listening to you. Once this English teacher became a reading specialist, no one seemed to be listening. When I finally reached community college level of teaching and could prepare my own syllabi, I taught communication skills as a package deal. I combined reading, writing, and speaking skills in the course I offered. Too bad teachers have lost a say in what is to be taught, as success and failure lie in the classroom, not in research. State departments, it seems to me, have usurped pedagogical authority by disguising academic success with terminology measuring school success, rather than student success. By keeping test comparisons within each state, they have removed the only measure that informs a teacher, their stents, and their parents. In the real world, this is considered lying, but who's bothering to check?

Miriam Trehearne Sep 16, 2023 11:45 PM

Miriam P. Trehearne

To quote Bill Conrad, “Thanks Tim for providing us the bread and butter on reading and writing! Well done and with humor”. Yes, many educators need this.
Having worked with teachers and administrators around the world, I am aware of the politics and the challenges involving the “reading wars”. They are numerous. Pendulum swings often disenfranchise teachers, students, and parents. Many experienced teachers suffer as they continue to live through pendulum swings.

A year ago, I posted a book review of Shifting the Balance 6 Ways to Bring the Science of Reading into a Balanced Literacy Classroom. My review focused on one very key area which was omitted and provided the research-base behind it. Burkins and Yates did not include writing when discussing the Balanced Literacy Classroom. This is a serious omission. The research described by Bill Teale in his article “The Curriculum Gap Ensures a Continuing Achievement Gap” (2007) is important. This research indicates that writing is one of three key areas often neglected in early literacy classrooms. This curriculum gap means that many young children are being shortchanged and will suffer the consequences in later grades (Teale, 2014).

In her landmark research, Dolores Durkin (1966) discovered that the parents and caregivers of children who had learned to read before coming to kindergarten had read with their children. However, they did more than this. They gave their children many writing opportunities. It became clear that early readers generally are very interested in writing, and many write long before they read. Writing often provides a foundation for reading.

In a study of beginning literacy learning, kindergarteners’ writing behaviors were found to be predictive of subsequent (Grade 1) reading achievement, even after controlling for the effects of IQ (Shatil, Share and Levin, 2000).

That is why I wrote the professional book Learning to Write and Loving It, (preschool-kindergarten) Corwin Press. Thank you, Tim, for writing the forward to this book.

We know that a complex theory of literacy learning acknowledges that writers have to know how to do certain things that overlap with things that readers have to know or do. The two processes are concurrent sources of learning and contribute to each other in early literacy learning. Reading and writing are reciprocal and interrelated processes (Marie Clay 2001).

Canadian researchers, Harrison, Ogle, McIntyre, and Hellsten (2008), reviewed K–3 studies on early writing conducted in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The findings, published in a paper titled “The Influence of Early Writing Instruction on Developing Literacy,” indicated that early writing:
Supports the development of phonological awareness, the alphabetic principle, and phonics
Enhances early reading (word identification, decoding, passage comprehension, and word reading) and often precedes early reading.

The quality of writing support for 4-year-olds is highly related to their language and literacy growth at the end of Kindergarten and Grade 1 (Dickinson and Sprague 2001). Writing is an activity that promotes alphabet letter knowledge, phonological awareness, phonics, concepts of print, including the fact that the end of a line is not always the end of a thought (Snow, Burns, and Griffin 1998). So, writing (including drawing) helps children to make sense of their world.

And finally, the evidence from a meta-analysis shows that having students in Grades 2-12 write about material they have read, enhances their comprehension of it. This was true for students in general and students who were weaker readers and writers, in particular (Graham and Hebert, 2011).

“Learning to write assists children in their reading; in learning to read, children also gain insights that help them as writers. But writing is more than an aid to learning to read; it is an important curricular goal. Through writing children express themselves, clarify their thinking, communicate ideas, and integrate new information into their knowledge base.”
Every Child a Reader, CIERA 1

And finally you Tim (2017), sum it up beautifully with:

Reading-writing relations start when reading and writing start. Many folks delay writing until a solid reading base is established. Research doesn’t support that: kids are able to draw reading benefits from the beginning. When young children first try to write, they have to think hard about print concepts. When young children first try to spell, they have to think hard about phonemic awareness.

The impact of writing on reading must be considered part of any acceptable definition of science of reading instruction (Shanahan 2020). So, how can writing be eliminated from the Balanced Literacy Classroom when shifting the balance? Clearly the instructional practices identified by some are too narrow and not complete. Writing is a fundamental process in learning to read and can also support students becoming effective readers, across the grades.

Tammy Elser Sep 17, 2023 01:22 AM

I am so grateful for this entire thread! I would love to expand a bibliography on this start building from Graham and Herbert to present. Harriett, Ann, Miriam.... all of you, and of course Tim, have reminded me how myopic we have become. Writing is so essential for strong emergent literacy, and as we know throughout life as literacy develops. When I talk about it, I often get eye rolls and remarks stemming from ignorance indicating that yes, eventually kids should.... but as Miriam, Harriett, Ann, and Tim attest, we know writing ideally is a co-requisite to important early literacy. My observations are a kind of consolidation of the alphabetic principle occurs and kids make rapid growth. In many classrooms where I observe, teachers require copying of text, and think students are writing. They have been trained in explicit to mastery models where students early approximations are not understood or valued or encouraged, with a subsequent loss of a critical learning opportunity. Again, so much gratitude.

Carlene Sep 17, 2023 07:07 AM

Thanks Tim for this insightful article. Although, I must admit, as I was reading it there was a sense of dread as our English provision does separate the two areas of reading and writing. But, what I liked about the article was that it challenged and made me question our decisions and rationale. It was developed with all the right intentions but I do wonder… Can it be tweaked, evolved? Does it still meet the needs of our children and do our teachers have the expertise and knowledge to deliver it?

We have had quite a journey at our school over the years (an international primary school in Asia) moving from an English curriculum that had 15 minutes of reading instruction with a teacher once a fortnight, and if there was reading elsewhere, it was to improve writing skills, to a curriculum where the reading and writing curriculums are separate but taught by the same class teacher.

The premise for this was to ensure time was dedicated to the teaching of reading (3 lots of 30 minute sessions a week). Box of our numerous specialist lessons our timetable did not enable more time. In reading lessons children are taught to respond to the texts read, that will include writing responses. The reading journals form an important part of the reading process. But, the writing that takes place in our reading sessions have a single purpose: to develop deeper thinking/ skilled readers. I quote Nikki Gamble here when I say, the books on our reading curriculum have been chosen because ‘they say something interesting and they say it in an interesting way.’

Our writing curriculum comprises writing units that begin with a high quality text, usually a book, but might be a visual image or a short film. The first stage of the writing process is reading, which is referred to as ‘reading as readers’. We want the children to understand and respond to the text comprehensively first. Then, we go on and read the text ‘as writers’, consciously thinking about the text with an authors eye. We move on to ‘writing for the reader’, giving the children authentic audiences to enjoy their writing.

In summary, the rational for separating the curriculums and taking different texts for each, was to:
1. Ensure sufficient time was allocated/ protected for the teaching of reading.
2. Support the change in mindset, that we teach reading to develop reading. Previously, the understanding was mainly that we teach reading for writing. Of course, they are inextricably linked, but children must be taught to read as readers and out texts for reading are intentionally challenging be it context, vocabulary and language, literary features, illustrations etc. This makes these texts then often not the best authentic models for children’s writing.
3. Ensure the texts we were using for the intended outcomes whether to develop skilled readers or to develop skilled writers were up to the task. There are so many phenomenal books available that provide opportunities for deep reading that are not necessarily models for writing. And the same in reverse. Recently I was asked to review a book for reading potential. It was a great read, but as far as a stimulus for writing. The conversation and deep dive that could be extrapolated from it would be limited and make the leaning of reading through it painfully dull.
4. Ensure exposure to a greater number of high quality texts, with deep dive opportunities because there is a book for reading lessons and a book for writing lessons.
5. Allow a revisit/ connection in the reading or writing curriculum to a concept, or knowledge taught previously in its counter part in a different point in the year or in another year group, to enable learning to be depended and ultimately embedded.

Our approach feels right for our children, but am I looking at it through a narrow lens? Does our approach entwine reading and writing as it should be? Do we go far enough? Are our references and use of both disciplines within the other enough?

Miriam Trehearne Sep 17, 2023 06:43 PM

Miriam P. Trehearne

Carlene, I read with interest the story of your school’s literacy journey. You state: “The premise for this was to ensure time was dedicated to the teaching of reading (3 lots of 30-minute sessions a week). Box of our numerous specialist lessons our timetable did not enable more time”. Solid research indicates that it would be beneficial to increase this amount of time, daily, and to ensure that this sacred time is uninterrupted. I understand the restrictions you have in timetabling due to your specialist lessons. I am presently working with a bilingual/bicultural elementary school who is also struggling with the time issues. I have also experienced such a school as a student and the parent of two students who attended the school. You state that “Our approach feels right for our children”. If your assessments support this feeling, and you are developing motivated and engaged readers, writers and speakers, then carry on with this plan. However, it might be advantageous to consider the possibility of making some research-based changes to your school’s LA timetable, where possible.

Yes, time matters but long blocks of uninterrupted time for LA, daily, are crucial.
Coherent high-quality classroom literacy instruction is most easily achieved when classroom teachers have large blocks of uninterrupted time. (Allington and Cunningham 1996). Teachers frequently bemoan the fact that frequent intercom announcements, students being pulled for special programs, assemblies during language arts, impacts both teaching and learning.

Long blocks of time allow students:
More continuity across their language arts block- more connections between reading and writing for example and integration across subject areas. There is less fragmentation and more connected learning.
The time to really “get into” their reading and writing. “It takes time to read deeply and to write thoughtfully” (Allington, 2001).
More opportunities to integrate a variety of subject areas.
To delve more deeply into their learning. “Research indicates that using longer instructional blocks often results in productive and complicated work being achieved” (Allington and Johnson, 2001).
To become more engaged and motivated in the tasks at hand.

Long blocks of time allow teachers:
The opportunities to integrate literacy meaningfully across all subject areas.
The opportunities to link teaching and learning effectively across all the language arts strands.
Fewer disruptions due to transitions resulting in more real time for teaching and learning. With frequent transitions, children often lose up to two hours a day of valuable learning time.
The ability to get it all in!
In a survey which asked elementary teachers to identify their greatest challenges in improving the quality of classroom reading instruction, a lack of time ranked second. Baumann, Hoffman, Moon and Hester reported that teachers indicated frustration with: “too much time spent on unimportant or uncritical issues at school- not enough quality time to teach; finding enough time to devote to reading instruction; time interruptions and other curriculum demands”.

Long blocks of time are a start.
But of course, what happens during that time will make the biggest difference.

Carlene, I would love to follow your journey. Miriam

Telmo Sep 18, 2023 05:30 AM

What are your thoughts about the Teaching and Learning Cycle by WestEd, B. Derewianka, etc.? The manuscript "Scaffolding Writing through the Teaching and Learning Cycle" by WestEd says: The TLC is a pedagogical framework for scaffolding academic writing through deep and critical thinking tasks, academic discussions, interactive reading, and language development. The goal of the TLC is to support students’ autonomous writing skills in a specific genre, or text type, within a particular discipline (such as a science explanation, historical argument, or literary story). I would love to hear your opinion. Thanks!

Timothy Shanahan Sep 18, 2023 01:14 PM

I think this is a reasonable approach to take with elementary kids who haven't had much opportunity to write about content. Doing things like jointly writing a piece to guide student efforts makes great sense, as do the kinds of vocabulary and sentence supports. However, at least by middle school there should be a marked shift from these structure-centric efforts to approaches that pay more attention to the purposes of these different structures, strategies, and features. Scientists communicate for purposes (not just to communicate, but to limit their communications in certain ways -- to minimize opinions and to distinguish them from facts, to depend heavily on empirical evidence, etc. At that point, it is important to not just analyze texts but to consider the purposes and intellectual cultures that underpin those rhetorical moves. (These phenomena underlie both reading and writing.)


Carlene Sep 19, 2023 08:35 PM


Thanks for your reply. Uninterrupted blocks of time would be heaven! In the younger years they have 1 hour blocks of reading every day which have been separated into three: phonics instruction, active reading practice and teaching reading through one book. In the older years it is a 1 hour block at the start of the week (consciously made because often reading was left to the end of the week and was left off and replaced by finishing off a writing task ). The other half an hour is located elsewhere in the week.

Our timetable is a bone of contention every year. We share facilities from years 1 to 13 which of course is a logistical nightmare! Securing 1 and half hours on the time table for dedicated reading time was a huge success, but I know we have far to go. For this new academic year, more links/ amalgamation have been attempted across our English, Humanities and Science topics, using one text. The rationale for this by leads was to not overburden children and teachers with multiple texts and hoped to offer more time on one book. My concern with this is, the texts chosen, link to the topics nicely and provide a good writing stimulus but are not necessarily great books for ‘teaching reading’. And numerous surveys of teachers over the years have shown that many of our teachers struggle to find time to read to their classes for pleasure on a regular basis. This means over a five to six week period, children may only get exposure/ instruction of one text, that may not even be up to the job of teaching reading itself. Is this ok? Children need time to deep diver so one book for multiple subjects over a unit of time may make sense in a rigid timetable but breadth of texts and quality of text are being compromised I feel. I’m feeling we are at a difficult crossroad and as a school need to sit and decide what is non negotiable. Teaching reading with quality texts that are up to the task and offering a breadth of texts to build knowledge and understanding should be at the forefront. To understand and access more the world we need to read and be taught how to read more!

Miriam. I would be more than happy to share our school’s journey with you.

Miriam Trehearne Sep 20, 2023 09:13 PM

Carlene, you are correct, your school is at a crossroad and as a school needs to sit and decide what are the non negotiables. I can tell you that we (56 elementary schools) replicated the fine work for Dr. Peter Hill, Melbourne Australia and the results were stellar because of the non negotiables and teacher/administrator fidelity to the project. Please feel free to connect with me through LinkedIn if you want more information. Miriam Trehearne

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How Should We Combine Reading and Writing?


One of the world’s premier literacy educators.

He studies reading and writing across all ages and abilities. Feel free to contact him.