A professional development blog

By Hollyanna Bates

At the Colorado Council International Reading Association, our aim is to advance literacy access through research-based instructional practices. The annual conference, held in February of each year, brings together national experts, classroom teachers, literacy specialists, coaches, and administrators.  Three days later, we leave feeling inspired, challenged and thoughtful about our work with children.

It doesn’t stop there. Our organization is more than just a conference.  There are local councils who promote literacy in small towns and cities around the state.  And a strong board of directors coordinates literacy programs, grants and awards.  But could we be more?  Our members represent a wealth of knowledge, perspectives, and experience.  This weekly blog will engage members and literacy leaders as we collaborate to promote professional development.  Each week will include a book review; a review of a read aloud for the classroom or a review of a professional text.

Please follow the blog so that you’ll receive it weekly in your inbox.  You may find interest in other literacy-related professional development blogs listed below.  There is nothing like professional development from the couch, in your pajamas, on your schedule.


Professional Book Review

By: Mandy Lover


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Great Habits, Great Readers: A Practical Guide for K-4 Reading in Light of the Common Core by Bambrick-Santoyo, Settles, Worrell

After returning to the classroom after five years working as a coordinator, I found myself digging out some of my favorite and trusted books by my favorite professional development authors and reviewing them but I felt like I was missing the support I needed to set up the routines in my class to develop authentic reading habits. Enter Great Habits, Great Readers.

The premise of the book is easy- teach great habits and in return you will create great readers. But we all know it is not that simple, which is why I love this book. It takes this simple idea and pulls it apart bit by bit. It provides clear examples and some non-examples of what these great habits look and sound like. The authors use transcripts and videos of real classrooms in the Uncommon Schools network. The videos are referenced throughout the book which makes it an easy read with the opportunity to learn a new concept, watch a video of it, and then reflect on the new learning.

The book begins by providing several cases for creating solid classroom routines that will in the long-run support literacy instruction. As you move through the book, topics such as raising the bar for class discussions, guided reading, leading read-alouds, and independent reading are explored. Again, the authors provide concrete language as a model for teachers to customize and make their own. My favorite resources in this book are the prompting guides to use when working with students. They are targeted towards common challenges that young readers face and are arranged into handy Lexile level tables.

Great Habits, Great Readers is geared toward K-4 readers but the concepts and ideas could easily be adapted for all grade levels or for teachers with students reading below grade level. As a teacher returning to the classroom I have relied on this book to bring me up to speed with the Common Core expectations.

About the Author:  Mandy Lover is a National Board Certified Teacher, teaching Kindergarten at a K-8 charter school in Cherry Creek School District in Colorado. In addition to teaching she has partnered with another teacher to create www.teacherhomeswap.com, a website making travel affordable and exciting for teachers.