Literacy Lenses

Focusing on The Literacy Work that Matters


See the #G2Great chat Wakelet artifact with Nawal Qarooni HERE

By Mary Howard

On 3/28/24, we were honored to welcome our good friend Nawal Qarooni to our #G2Great chat for a social media style discussion of her exquisite new book, Nourishing Caregiver Collaborations: Elevating Home Experiences and Classroom Practices for Collective Care (2024, Routledge) It was such an honor to engage in this video conversation with Nawal. She lives and breathes this book quote below and extends her thinking in such a beautiful way in the video.

VIDEO DISCUSSION (CLICK ON the link to the left to watch the video)


Nawal Qarooni is an instructional leader, writer and adjunct professor who supports a holistic approach to literacy instruction education spaces across the country. Drawing on her work as an inquiry-based leader and as a mother, Nawal’s pedagogy is centered in the rich and authentic learning all families gift their children every day. She is the author of Nourishing Caregiver Collaborations: Exalting Home Experiences and Classroom Practices for Collective Care. She was a longtime classroom teacher in both Brooklyn and Chicago, and formerly a newspaper journalist. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Journalism, and Brooklyn College. She serves on the Library of Congress Literacy Awards Advisory Board, which funds powerful literacy programming in the world, and Reese Witherspoon’s LitUp committee to select historically marginalized voices for publication. Learn more or connect via @nqarooni on Instagram and Threads, @NQCLiteracy on X, or her website at 


Nourishing Caregiver Collaborations: Exalting Home Experiences and Classroom Practices for Collective Care (Routledge.) Also available from Amazon

Read an excerpt from her book via KQED on creating community maps as inclusive practice here.

Listen to the feature on the Cult of Pedagogy Podcast here!

Nawal Qarooni’s website 

Olivia Wahl Schoolutions asks Nawal Qarooni one important question: “What’s a great first step to nourishing caregiver collaborations?

Olivia Wahl Schoolutions full interview with Nawal Qarooni

A Message from Your #G2Great Moderators: Looking Ahead to Change in 2024

Today is the beginning of the ninth year of our #G2Great chat launched 1/8/15 in honor of my book, Good to Great Teaching: Focusing on the Literacy Work that Matters (2012, Heinemann). We have celebrated eight years with 371 Twitter chats focused on books, topics, articles, and podcasts including weekly chats for the first seven years until 2023 year eight when we moved to monthly chats.

After contemplating the future of #G2Great with co-moderators, Fran McVeigh and Brent Gilson, we decided to make another shift in 2024. We did not take this decision lightly but due in part to participation and the dramatic and continuing changes in our social media platform from Twitter to X. We are still committed to the goal that inspired us to begin this journey in 2015 which is spreading information through conversation within a social media network, but we will do this using a more flexible process rather than a predetermined annual schedule.

Beginning on our 2024 year 9 anniversary, these changes will take place:

• we will continue to use #G2Great hashtag as a conversational sharing space

• we will offer chats as they speak to us rather than using a predefined schedule

• we will continue to house past and future chats in our Wakelet Collections

• we will maintain as a blog for sharing

• We will consider options such as book reviews or interviews with authors.

Each of us feels blessed to have created and nurtured a space where we can all engage in respectful conversations around a wide variety of topics. But we also know that these are challenging times for educators in terms of the political mandates and rigid dictates for what you can and cannot do sweeping across the country. We continue to be dedicated to offering this space where we hope you will share your thinking and both initiate and engage in conversation. And as opportunities arise, engage in conversation with us as we have in the past.

We are grateful to each of you for your educational commitment and your willingness to share that commitment with us through social media-style dialogue. #G2Great was created in YOUR honor and has been a labor of love with YOU in mind across the years. We hope to see you again as the 2024 progresses.

With deep gratitude to each of you!

Just as I’ve done over the last eight years, here are our past anniversary posts:

Year 1: 1/5/16 (Blog launch)

Year 2: 1/5/17 The Gifts of YOU

Year 3: 1/4/18 (Curiosity Crew collaboration #1)

Year 4: 1/10/19 (Curiosity Crew collaboration #2)

Year 5: 1/9/20 WHAT IF?

Year 6: 1/7/21 Courageous Conversations

Year 7: 1/13/22 Reclaiming a Seat at the Decision-Making Table

Year 8: 1/5/23 Professional Transformation

The Heart-Centered Teacher: Restoring Hope, Joy, and Possibility in Uncertain Times (PART 2)

You can access our Wakelet Chat Artifact using this LINK

Book Reflection by Mary Howard

On 12/14/23, we were honored to welcome Regie Routman to #G2Great chat to discuss her new book, The Heart-Centered Teacher: Restoring Hope, Joy, and Possibility in Uncertain Times (2024, Routledge). Regie was also our guest on 1/11/18 for Literacy Essentials: Engagement, Equity, and Excellence for All Learners (2018, Stenhouse) and a follow-up “Blast from the Past” chat to revisit Literacy Essentials on 10/20/22.

Since this was the final chat of 2023, we decided to do something different this week. Yesterday, my friend and co-moderator Fran McVeigh wrote a lovely #G2Great chat reflection. We both agreed that this book was deserving of double attention, so for the first time in our eight-year chat history, we decided to share a second tribute. In this post, I’ll focus exclusively on The Heart-Centered Teacher rather than the chat that Fran covered so beautifully. My goal is to highlight why I believe every teacher needs this book and why it means so much to me personally. I consider The Heart-Centered Teacher the #1 MUST-HAVE professional book as reflected in my endorsement and Amazon Review.

In 1988, Regie Routman became a trusted friend I had yet to meet. That was when her first book was published: Transitions: From Literature to Literacy (Heinemann). Even though I was in my sixteenth year in education, she spoke to everything that I hold dear both then and now and further sharpened my lens of understanding. I knew that I had found a kindred spirit. From that day on, I renewed and extended those beliefs with each new Regie Routman masterpiece, as our long-distance-never-met-yet friendship continued to grow along with my knowledge, insight, and unwavering desire to know and do more as time went on. More recently and with deep gratitude to Twitter, we became digital friends and in 2018 I met Regie for the first time face-to-face over her famous Strawberry tart. I’m forever grateful that our book friendship that began from afar thirty-five years ago transformed into a treasured real-life friendship.

In my book endorsement, I described The Heart-Centered Teacher as a personal love letter in the perfect book with the perfect words at the perfect time.” I can’t think of a better description of a book that has brought so much professional and personal joy into my life since the day I received my personalized copy. Regie quickly brought the title and spirit of The Heart Centered Teacher to life for me in her opening, “Living a Heart-Centered Life: A Letter to Readers” with the words that helped me to understand the book WHY I embraced as I read:

“I want to lift you up–to nourish your heart, mind, and spirit.” (p. xix)

By seeking to nourish my heart, mind, and spirit in an age that is riddled with challenges, Regie gave me and everyone who has read this beautiful gift that is designed to touch the whole of who we are in an age where it’s needed most. Educational books often focus on a professional view. While that is no doubt critical, I’m not sure it’s enough in challenging times. Regie understood that and thus, it’s “the perfect book with the perfect words at the perfect time.”

In her wisdom, Regie crafted a mixture of “heart, mind, and spirit” that would not just enrich our thinking but also awaken all that it means to be engaged in a world that is clearly under stress. I have come to realize through rereading and frequent referencing that this is what has been missing most for me in these post-pandemic times we live. As educators in a time of crisis, we are struggling to find ourselves professionally but we are also struggling to find ourselves personally. As we stand on the precipice of uncertainty, I now understand that it is impossible to separate one from the other when they are mutually supportive and sometimes even mutually broken. In times of challenge, one can breed that challenge into the other. If I don’t feel whole personally, then how could I possibly feel whole professionally?

I fell in love with the design of the book from the start. Regie made it easy for me to access the words that would nourish MY heart, mind, and spirit. Her table of contents reads like an invitational directional guide that allows us to be the decision-makers based on what we need most at that time. Each chapter with its carefully considered sections feels like a personal-professional mix celebration that allows me to choose where I need to go. When I’m struggling with a sense of loss, I can go to Chapter 7 and explore any or all sections. If I need wise advice on developing professional knowledge, I can turn to Chapter 5 and explore any or all sections. Depending on what I need on any given day, I can easily find my way to wisdom and unwavering encouragement. Her love letter keeps the promise with each reading and I find myself feeling ‘lifted up and nourished from a heart, mind, and spirit’ perspective. (p. xix)

A beautiful thread that ties The-Heart Centered Teacher and each of the chapter sections together is done in glorious Regie Routman style. Through storytelling drawn from her own life experiences, she eloquently and often courageously shares those stories and then uses them to make connections to the personal and professional points that follow – often weaving in both at once. Her stories offer a loving springboard to envision the critical features of an expansive view of comprehensive student-focused “heart-centered teaching.” She takes us with her on a journey decades in the making and writes with candor and humility as each story translates into insight we can use to maneuver those challenges. I often found myself mentally creating related in-the-head stories that personalized and magnified her message and ideas even more.

Through Regie’s willingness to open her heart to her own stories of joy and pain and then apply that in personal and professional lessons, we learn how to pull from our life experiences. Her generosity in sharing intimate details of her life is a model for what courage in action looks like. The Heart-Centered Teacher is raw honesty between covers. I return to these pages of wisdom often for solace and inspiration, as I have done so many times before and will continue to do.

As I close, I’d like to share one more quote. Regie’s book touched me as an educator and a human, so there are an unlimited number of possibilities for sharing. But I’d like to draw back to the opening in Living a Heart-Centered Life: A Letter to Readers for one more look at the WHY that guides my thinking as I read and reread every exquisite page:

“At this moment in time, the whole world feels broken. And yet. Living a good life is still possible– and necessary. Heart-Centeredness is a way into the good life and is a major theme of this book. It is that peaceful state where we live our core values with compassion, generosity, and authenticity–even in the midst of sadness and strife.” (p.xx)

Whether we are seeking to find a path forward professionally or personally or merge them together in concert as life often does, ‘living our core values in our schools and in our lives with compassion, generosity, and authenticity feels like the one thing that we can control in a time where control feels as if it has been stripped from the very fiber of the educational landscape. But Regie’s words across The Heart-Centered Teacher have given me a sense of direction.

Yes, the how, where, what, with whom, and under what circumstances will vary for each of us. But if we hold tight to Regie’s wise words based on what we are seeking, I know with certainty that we can find our way to The Heart-Centered Teacher that Regie so eloquently illuminates. It is compassion, generosity, and authenticity that our teachers and children need most now and so richly deserve. The Heart-Centered Teacher shows us what that might look like while Regie has instilled the belief that she trusts us to remain at the helm of our choices.

And THAT, my friends, is why this “perfect book with the perfect words at the perfect time” is so desperately needed right now. Regie honors each of us as caring and capable at a time when the constant message coming from every direction is as far a departure from that as one can get. I for one feel energized and strengthened by Regie’s reframing grounded in flexibility and respect for each of us as individuals. As I share these words, I find myself thinking about what would be possible if Regie Routman were in charge of the educational universe… But for now, The Heart-Centered Teacher is a worthy start!

In closing, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give Regie the final word and end this post just as Regie ended her book in the Afterwords:

“What we do, what you do matters. Changing the life of even one child is monumental. Here’s a crucial lesson I learned over many decades. I have had many encouragers along the way but some naysayers too. There will always be people telling you it can’t be done, that it’s too risky, too costly, too difficult. Ignore those voices. Listen to your inner voice. Start dreaming. It hasn’t been done yet – until you do it.” (p. 262)

Thank you, Regie, for being our cheerleader, our confidant, our inner voice, and a fellow seeker of the possibilities we may not even yet know exist both within and around us. But your heart map will help us make that glorious journey!


Order the Heart-Centered Teacher from Routledge

Regie Routman’s website

Companion Website: Resources from Regie

Our #G2Great Wakelet of our chat with Regie

Fran McVeigh Blog Post on The Heart-Centered Teacher

1/11/18 Literacy Essentials (Blog Post by Mary Howard)

10-20-22 Blast From the Past: Literacy Essentials (Blog post by Mary Howard)

The Heart-Centered Teacher: Restoring Hope, Joy, and Possibility in Uncertain Times

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Title-1.png

Archive of Tweets available at

By Fran McVeigh

Early in my education career, during my undergraduate work, an instructor said, “You have to love all the kids. You don’t have to like them every day all the time. But you do have to love them.” That quote has been a part of my professional and personal life and is also why I think I have made so many personal connections to many authors and educators. One characteristic that we have always had in common is a love for all students. A love with our whole hearts.

As I began reading The Heart-Centered Teacher, I was fascinated by the brilliant way that Regie Routman wove her personal and professional experiences together. And then that fascination opened my mind to new possibilities as I continued through the book and all the resources Regie has made available. Regie embodies all that Mary Howard wrote about in her book Good to Great Teaching: Focusing on the Literacy Work that Matters.

Let’s begin the heart of this post with Question #1 for our author and her response.

1.   What motivated you to write this book? What impact did you hope that it would have in the professional world?

I was motivated by two factors. One: I was hoping that a book that combined my personal and professional lives might be healing for me and for so many who are dealing with loss and adversity. We teach the whole child; I believe we need to bring the whole teacher into our work with children, and that includes letting ourselves be known. Two: I had written about a dozen books for educators dealing with the “what” “why” and “how” of literacy teaching and learning. Now, with the perspective that comes from teaching for five decades and from living a full life, I wanted to pull it all together in a way that might be meaningful for all of us. That is, to discuss how we can lead “The Good Life,” not just in school but in all aspects of our lives. My hope/is was to show that interconnecting teaching, learning, and living is necessary to be and become our truest selves professionally and personally.

Also, the “how” of teaching reading, writing, speaking, and listening–while a major emphasis in this book—is not the only high priority I explore. With that in mind, for new and inexperienced teachers and for all of us seeking to do better, I added a “Companion Website: Resources” that is free to all; you don’t have to buy the book to access it. You can find that website at or through my website at by clicking on “Online Resources.” You will find supplemental teaching resources by chapter that include a comprehensive study guide, videos, podcasts, articles, instructional approaches, downloadables, and more—including favorite recipes. Over time, I will be adding additional Resources.

As a reader, I always devour the endpapers of every book. Every word is purposefully chosen by the author and this “extra knowledge” helps deepen my understanding of the content as well as the purpose behind the text.

So Question # 2 and Regie’s response follow perfectly in this instance.

2.   What are your BIG takeaways from your book that you hope teachers will embrace in their practices?

Most of all, “it’s all about relationships.” If we want to build a safe, trusting, caring culture in our schools and classrooms, then we need to focus on creating and sustaining healthy social-emotional, interpersonal, and intellectual environments. That is, we need to have our curriculum grounded in stories with reliable narrators; respect and honor each student’s culture, language, identity, and strengths; and promote meaningful conversations where all voices are welcomed and heard. I hope readers and listeners of the book come away more hopeful, see more possibilities in all aspects of their lives, experience joyful moments, and feel the pride in being a teacher—in spite of all the ongoing challenges we face.

There are so many pieces in this quote. The beauty is in Regie’s words of hope, joy, and possibilities for teacher practices. When I couldn’t decide how to focus my thoughts, I created a word cloud to SEE what was embedded in this paragraph.

Restoring Hope, Joy, and Possibility

This subtitle is important. I’ve collected quotes, tweets, and thoughts from the book or from the chat to share so many words of wisdom. (Do note that some overlap into more than one category!) Which ones are your favorites?




And Question #3 with Regie’s response provides a super conclusion for this post.

3.   What is a message from the heart you would like for every teacher to keep in mind?

Even if you are falling short, as we all occasionally do, if you have changed one life for the better you have been a significant influencer. “Never underestimate the power of one teacher to change a child’s life for the better.” Often we never know whose lives we’ve impacted, but if we have honored and celebrated children’s strengths, culture, and intelligence, we have touched their lives in ways that will resonate and significantly influence them—perhaps for a lifetime.” (P. 250)

You. You are enough. You have touched student lives. “If you have changed one life for the better, you have been a significant influencer.”

Thank you and remember to celebrate the lives you have touched as you celebrate this holiday season.

Additional Resources:

Regie Website:

Routledge Book Order

Chat Wakelet that includes the questions, responses and quotes above

Regie Routman #G2Great chat for Literacy Essentials

Increasing Reading Volume: Practical Strategies That Boost Students’ Achievement and Passion for Reading

By Brent Gilson

This past month the #G2Great community was brought together to discuss Laura Robb’s new book Increase Reading Volume: Practical Strategies That Boost Student’s Achievement and Passion for Reading. We are so grateful that Laura was able to join us and share her knowledge and experience.

I love the chance to talk about reading and how we can get students to read more. When I started teaching, I was introduced to independent choice reading as part of my “Daily 5” model. As I moved to later grades, the model of my literacy periods shifted, however, the mainstay has always been Independent reading.

Looking at the most impactful moves I have made in my classroom regarding reading, the first has always been choice. I work to talk about books, to get kids excited about books, but I want always to make sure I honor their choices as readers, that I recognize their identity as a person and also as a reader who knows what they like. Too often, I think kids hear, “You are too old for this” or “Graphic Novels are not real books. Choose something else.” I can’t help but think that if a kid is reading anything, that is better than reading nothing. One year I had a student, a hunter, reading a book about knife-making. He was absolutely engrossed in every class as he learned how to craft his own hunting knife. I guess I could have bugged him to read something else. Maybe offered him Hatchet for the millionth time because there were not a lot of books he was interested in reading, but instead, I let him read and inevitably write about what interested him. Looking back at the above quote, he turned to books to learn, and he most certainly enjoyed it. This story is just one of countless stories from the classroom where readers were found and found themselves.

Choice in the classroom is such a powerful tool. It empowers our students; it shows them that we believe their voice matters. As Sarah points out, this empowerment leads to progress and growth.

Laura shares with readers the ideas of Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop and the power of texts to serve as Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors. This is still, at times, a struggle to convince many educators that texts that serve as mirrors for students are essential. We find ourselves arguing about the literary merits and that time spent on classroom reading should only be for “worthy” texts; I wonder, though, what is more worthy than a text that helps students see themselves?

An often-mentioned statement by well-meaning gym teachers turned Administrators who have never been literacy instructors is, “How do you assess independent reading?” I love Mary’s reflection on this topic.

Sadly, we place so much importance on numbers that we often lose focus on what matters: the readers in front of us. In a time when some folks scream about nothing more than data, we need to remember the heart of this work we are blessed to do. The part we play in helping readers find themselves not some level or number grade but WHO they are as readers. That is discovered in the discussions, in the connections.

Considering assessment, I think about the work the readers of Room 157 do, the multimodal exploration of text, and the synthesis of big ideas. This thinking is inspired by the choice of texts my students and Sarah’s (pictured above) explore in the time we provide them. If we are looking to help students develop themselves as readers, we need to carve out the time in the day for them to build those habits. Kids are over-scheduled. Some have extra-curricular activities, others have home responsibilities, and others have both. Some have no access to texts at home, but they do in our classrooms. If we want to increase volume, we must show students we value it. Provide students the time to read and choice in what they are reading, and largely they will find themselves, and the volume will increase. It is really that simple.

Active Learning: 40 Teaching Methods to Engage Students in Every Class and Every Subject

By Fran McVeigh

On 10/3/2023, #G2Great welcomed Dr. Gravity Goldberg back to discuss the book that she co-authored with Barry Gilmore, Active Learning: 40 Teaching Methods to Engage Students in Every Class and Every Subject. The Wakelet artifact can be found here.

Before we dig into the content of this text, I want to reveal the WHY behind the text. This text. This text now. So this post begins with the author’s questions that inform us and our #G2Great friends.

1) What motivated you to write this book? What impact did you hope that it would have in the professional world?

This book was quite different from any others I wrote. I was asked to be a co-author by my colleague Barry Gilmore when he found out he had terminal cancer. One of his dying wishes was for the book to be completed. For me, the book started as a respectful tribute to his work. As I got more involved in the book and after Barry passed away the book also became a way for me to document and share the methods and moves that I used and witnessed having a real impact on students. I picked the manuscript back up after Covid lockdown and wanted to really help teachers create more active learning spaces.

Gravity Goldberg, Google doc.

2) What are your BIG takeaways from your book that you hope teachers will embrace in their teaching practices?

A big takeaway for me is that student thinking is the goal in every subject area. It can be easy to make the content the goal but really it is all about how students use the content, what they think, and how they learn to communicate about it. I was able to see how four main types of thinking run through all we learn– independent thinking, creative thinking, problem-solving thinking, and empathetic thinking. Once we focus on thinking, it allows us to really create more actively engaging lessons.

I think we can all get caught up in the siloing of subject areas and forget that learning and engagement are not all that different in a reading, social studies or music class. I hope that teachers begin to blur the lines a bit more when designing learning experiences for students across the day. It is powerful for a student to practice a type of thinking in period 2 and again in periods 4 and 6 in different contexts. We can really use more collaborative planning across departments when writing curricula and planning lessons. 

Another takeaway from the book is that some tried and true methods of teaching still work in 2023, albeit with some tweaks. Some of the methods in this book are not new at all but our examples and tools allow us to show their current application. And some of the past methods we relied upon just don’t really lead to active engagement so we can let them go. By curating 40 methods (some tried and true and some new) we can make intentional choices about how we teach and how we set students up to think. 

Gravity Goldberg, Google doc.

3) What is a message from the heart you would like for every teacher to keep in mind?

True active engagement comes from being genuinely interested and curious about your students. No method, program, or lesson plan can ever engage students as well as a teacher who shows up as themselves wanting to know their students.

Gravity Goldberg, Google doc.

So I will admit that the title intrigued me long before I saw the book. The author was a plus.

Active Learning, check.

40 Teaching Methods, check.

Engage Students, check.

Every Class, check.

Every Subject, check.

Right there, I was hooked and ready to read. Seven reasons that I wanted to know more. Seven. And that was just from the title!

After the chat, my five BIG takeaways include: Independent Thinking as the End Goal, what Active Engagement means, 4 Ways to Think Deeply, Designing Learning Experiences, and Across Every Subject Every Day.

What is the End Goal?

A belief in “independent thinking” means that each and every student has the potential to be a lifelong learner who lives a meaningful life. Isn’t this what all people want for both themselves and the rest of their community and their world?

What is Active Engagement?

How do we get to independent thinking? School needs to actively engage students as Gravity outlines in the following tweet. We focus on the bodies, brains and hearts of our students.

Thinking Deeply in 4 Different Ways

Gravity provided this chart that further describes the different types of thinking that students need to develop as well as the critical column about why each one is important. Why are these four needed? Because it’s about developing the learner’s potential . . . not just a rote response or regurgitation of facts. What do you find in this table?

Design Experiences

The phrase “student-centered” has been used for decades now in a variety of ways. But what if we instead switched that up to be “learner-focused” when we design experiences for students that make the classroom work for them. School was easy for me, but it would have been a lot more fun, creative, and humanizing if we had been “learner-focused.” And the criteria in the second tweet provides a “How To” if you want to consider some of your own learning designs.

Across Subject Areas

And the final gold from both the book and the chat is so true and so simple. Each subject area is different. But the connection is truly the way that we think and engage with the content. It’s the same all day long IF and WHEN “learning-centered” designed experiences are the norm and expectation.

What do we want students to learn?

What do you value and why? Is it the structures and spaces we call school? Or is it the thinking that will help them be lifelong curious learners? The thinking that will allow them to remain engaged with living and be successful in whatever they attempt? Barry and Gravity give us choices that we can make as we work on centering thinking and learning. Some of these methods are tried and true and need to remain in our repertoire. Perhaps some of our methods need a bit of revision. And yet others may need to be tossed. Envision the possibilities for our students if we embrace active learning as our goal!

How Education Policy Shapes Literacy Instruction: Understanding the Persistent Problems of Policy and Practice

Access our #G2Great Chat Wakelet HERE

Written by Mary Howard

On 9/7/23, we were honored to welcome first-time guest, Dr. Rachael Gabriel, to our #G2Great chat. Our discussion centered around her MUST-HAVE book: How Education Policy Shapes Literacy Instruction: Understanding the Persistent Problems of Policy and Practice Edited by Rachael Gabriel (1st Ed 2022, Palgrave Macmillan). Rachael Gabriel not only edited this book, but she also wrote or co-wrote four of the eight chapters.

If you’re professionally active and research-informed, you know Dr. Rachael Gabriel. A Professor of Literacy Education at the University of Connecticut, faithful educators across the world do a deep dive into her research articles and social media wisdom. Given that Rachael has long topped my MUST-READ list, I ordered How Education Policy Shapes Literacy Instruction immediately. It quickly became my trusted daily reference.

In an age where we watch the tremendous impact of ‘persistent problems of policy and practice’ unfolding in our educational landscape at every turn, I cannot imagine a research reference more desperately needed in these challenging times. Rachael’s book highlights key aspects that we see playing out now and offers insight into the history as well as the impact these issues are having in current times.

In the preface on p. ix, Rachael identifies SIX CATEGORIES explored in the book which I condensed below:

1) Retention

2) Remediation

3) Early Literacy

4) Reading Difficulties

5) Language Learners

6) Teacher Quality

Rachael follows the identification of these six categories by explaining:

“These topics are among the most important topics in local, state, and national policy. Understanding the foundations and trajectories of such issues and arguments is vital in the study and design of future research, advocacy, and policymaking efforts to produce substantive, positive change.” (p. ix)

I rarely read professional books front to back, but rather use a personal path that makes sense to me. When my copy arrived, the preface and introduction set the stage but I then moved to Chapter 4 on Early Reading Instruction: Politics and Myths About Materials and Methods (pages 89-120). Authors Natalia Ward, Nora Vines, and Rachael Gabriel wrote the quote below shared early in the chat. This illustrates why I began by reading an issue that’s rapidly escalating:

If we don’t understand where we have been and draw from that knowledge in ways that will help us to maneuver where we currently reside in history, then how do we approach past issues that rear their ugly head again in thoughtful ways? How can we possibly hope to understand them from all sides so that we may address them in reasoned ways? I do that with a firm grasp on this book while also seeking extensions of the book for added meaning.

One of those extensions is Jennifer Serravallo’s podcast, To the Classroom: Conversations with Researchers and Educators. Jennifer spotlighted this book in two podcasts before it was published. I happily listened to both:

Session 8 on 4/10/23 highlights Chapter 2: Retention in Grade and Third-Grade “Trigger” Laws: History, Politics, and Pitfalls with Dr. Gabriel P. Della Vecchia


When Jennifer asked Dr. Della Vecchia about the social-emotional impact of retention, he emphasized a direct and lingering negative impact:

8:17 “One of the most striking things in the research about retention is how infrequently student voice appears. People don’t bother to ask kids how they feel about it. It’s always about the economic health of the nation or some gigantic thing and we forget to say that this is a child’s life; this is their one time through their schooling. How do they feel about this?”

In Session 9 on 4/17/23, Jennifer discussed How Education Policy Shapes Literacy Instruction with Rachael Gabriel


18:57 “…what we really need to be asking teachers to do is learn their students well and respond effectively. That was always the name of the game. That is always going to be the name of the game.”

Jennifer posed a pertinent question at marker 19:39 “If you were to design a classroom for early literacy, what would it look like?”

19:56 “So, the easiest place for me to start is like non-negotiables. They’ve got to read write and talk about reading and writing every day. And I don’t want to hear the whole, ‘but they don’t know how to read or write yet’ because everybody is literate one way or another and we need to see the way that they’re using literacy in their everyday lives or even in their school lives. Notice it, name it as what it is and build on exactly what they’ve got going on.”

I found myself returning to these essential discussions as I read the book. I was able to merge these varied sources which elevated my book understandings.

Because these sources can be rich informants for reading, let’s shift our focus from the book to our #G2Great chat celebration of How Education Policy Shapes Literacy Instruction. To do that, I’ll share Rachael’s Twitter-style words of wisdom in the form of tweets. The thinking that was inspired by the chat experience can also support and extend our thinking inspired by the book.


Below are five questions with Rachael’s tweet/s followed by my thoughts.

Q1 Let’s start with the subtitle: “Understanding the Persistent Problems of Policy and Practice.” Why do we need to intentionally seek these understandings? What is one persistent problem of policy and practice you are facing in your professional life?

NOTE: Rachael shared the link to Allington’s article mentioned above HERE:

Rachael makes it clear across the book that research can both inform and enrich our WHY which can also support our future choices. She beautifully responded to this with two points that set our chat discussion up from the start (The 2nd part of the question is reflected by the Six categories listed in the preface on p. ix and in my opening words in this post.)

It’s worth reposting a quote I shared earlier here (p. ix)

“Understanding the foundations and trajectories of such issues and arguments is vital in the study and design of future research, advocacy, and policymaking efforts to produce substantive, positive change.”

Q2 If not reading laws, then what? What are other ways that states (or federal government) can thoughtfully address concerns about improving literacy achievement?

Rachael wisely shifts our attention back to students by asking us to consider conditions that will nurture and support our efforts for “ambitious, responsive instruction.” This is a critical point at a time when the political push and pull seems to be singularly focused on robbing teachers of agency while putting trust in programs that don’t even know the recipients of questionable dictates. When buying STUFF becomes our go-to knee-jerk reaction and diverts us from the impact teachers as decision-makers can have, we go against the grain of what we should be holding dear.

Q3 If early literacy development can take a variety of trajectories in terms of pace and focus based on individual differences among learners, how can a new generation of curricular tools take such complexity into consideration?

I was grateful that Rachael highlighted the powerful impact of “child watching + informed noticings.” Critical practices that inform and support our decision-making are too often supplanted for data-fied technological dictators that further remove teachers from more meaningful sources of understanding – understandings that could lead to in-the-moment professional actions our children deserve and need. In other words, putting our faith in pre-packaged nonsense demeans the impact knowledgeable teachers bring to bear on a day-to-day basis.

Q4 Globally, developing literacy in multiple languages in school is considered part of the norm.  Why is this not the case in the US and what would it take to adjust this in the future?

This is beautifully addressed in Chapter 6 by Amber N. Warren and Natalia Ward: A Language for Literacy Learning: Language Policy, Bi/Multilingual Students and Literacy Instruction in these words:

“Language policy and literacy instruction in the United States need to reflect the cultural and linguistic reality of their students.” (p 159).

Rachael’s message about honoring all languaging is key but the words that gave me readerly chills were that this honoring would “then extend and connect like a flower that has found the sun.” Sadly the question remains although the response is as yet uncertain: “Will we bring those words to life or continue to ignore them?

Q5 What would be different if standardized testing was abolished?  If a national curriculum was created? 

Standardized testing is indelibly tattooed into the very fiber of educational systems, so Rachael’s response was a breath of fresh air. It’s hard to envision a time in education when we have engaged communities and design pathways to support suggested priorities. Some days it feels like an impossible quest, and yet it also gives me hope for the future. As this two-way tweet with Yvette Rosario-Perez suggests, imagine if the issues in education were removed from those who know little about teaching and put in the hands of those who have both knowledge and experience and thus can contribute most to this discussion.


In Chapter 8 of Influence and Evidence in Reading-Related Policy, Rachael Gabriel and Shannon Kelley write on page 195:

“Growing in excellence as we grow in size requires expanding our frame of reference: for reading, its measurement, and teaching; for who is accountable for ensuring excellent reading instruction; and for what counts as excellent reading instruction for every child, every day. It requires quelling panic around persistent questions and instead engaging with the full complexity of providing opportunities to learn across contexts and cultures in a large and changing country. That this is difficult should not be cause for alarm or evidence of crisis.”

Imagine the powerful possibilities of discussions framed on the quote above rather than what we could do, buy, or force feed on teachers. Our conversations will always center on what we prioritize and this is grounded in the questions we pose and respond to. The time has come to recognize that we cannot have rich conversations by prioritizing the wrong things. Sadly,it is teachers and ultimately children who pay that price.

The authors gave me the perfect lead into Every Child Every Day” so I happily followed. Given a solid research foundation decades in the making, Richard Allington and Rachael Gabriel detail six research-based elements that every child should have in place every day. We all too often seek solutions that move as far away from research-based elements as they can get. Rather we look for quick-fix solutions in favor of OTHER-ING, or trusting WHO or WHAT that removes us from these non-negotiables our children so richly deserve. 

I shared a photo tweet from my #G2great chat chair in Honolulu near the end of the chat that is fitting closing. When Matt Renwick asked me about a book I’d recommend to administrators, I didn’t hesitate to share “How Education Policy Shapes Literacy Instruction.” To be honest, he could have substituted any group and my answer would have been the same. Having followed Rachael Gabriel’s work faithfully, I have read and dipped back into her book repeatedly since it was published and check her social media feed regularly. I believe that this book should be in the hands of anyone making decisions for our schools.

Rachael’s wisdom warrants giving her the final words in chat question 6:

Q6 Our #G2Great discussion with Rachael Gabriel can inspire new discussions, explorations, considerations and directions. What is one thing that you learned tonight you want to pursue more deeply through personal research or professional dialogue?

We are indebted to Rachael Gabriel for generously sharing her wisdom on a #G2great chat we will long be discussing and revisiting. Thank you, Rachael!


Rachael Gabriel is Professor of Literacy Education at University of Connecticut USA. She studies the intersection of education policy and classroom practice, prepares literacy specialists and doctoral students, and supports teachers and schools to build systems that create equitable opportunities to develop literacy.


How Education Policy Shapes Literacy Instruction: Understanding the Persistent Problems of Policy and Practice Edited by Rachael Gabriel (1st Ed 2022, Palgrave Macmillan)

To the Classroom podcast with Jennifer Serravallo: Chapter 2: Retention in Grade and Third-Grade “Trigger Laws: History, Politics, and Pitfalls Dr. Gabriel P. Della Vecchia

To the Classroom podcast with Jennifer Serravallo: Book discussion with Rachael Gabriel: How Education Policy Shapes Literacy Instruction: Understanding the Persistent Problems of Policy and Practice

Every Child, Every Day by Richard Allington and Rachael Gabriel (ASCD March 1, 2012, Vol 69, No. 6)  

Read-Alouds with Heart: Literacy Lessons That Build Community, Comprehension, and Cultural Competency.

BY: Brent Gilson

One of my favourite parts of being on the #G2Great team is the opportunity to reflect on the topic and write a blog post inspired by the discussions around the featured book. This week we looked at a topic that has always been near and dear to me as a teacher, the Read-Aloud. When I started teaching, I was in a 3rd-grade classroom. At the time, fresh out of University, I did not think about the books I chose to read. Most of the time, it was to inspire writing in my students; I did not in that first year understand the power of a read-aloud.

I remember the first time I really recognized the power of a read-aloud as a community builder. I was teaching fourth grade, and a student in that class was neurodivergent. When I started at the school, the class and the student struggled greatly. The combination of a lack of empathy shown by the class community and regular outbursts and class disruptions damaged the community. One day we gathered as a class to read Peter Reynolds I’m Here.

As we read the text, students started to look around for their classmate. He was not present that day and then connections and thoughts started pouring out of the kids. They asked if their classmate was like the boy in the story, and they began to understand him better in that very brief moment. This simple little story, read aloud, and the conversation that followed helped my students explore thinking they previously had not entertained, resulting in a closer class community. This book, like many others, helped my students approach a concept that seemed out of reach. The beauty of the read-aloud and the community we form is in the way our young learners can approach complex ideas.

As I moved from 3rd grade to 4th, then 6th, and then transitioned to Junior and yes even Senior High, the power and effectiveness of Read-Aloud with picture books continued to hold true. We discussed structures of thinking and ways we can build comprehension and then we would dive in to read and experience great texts. Reading aloud a story like I am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer and illustrated by Gillian Newland

opened opportunities for us to look at Residential Schools (I think referred to as Indian Boarding Schools in the USA). The conversations in my High School classroom may look different than in a Grade 3 room but the text remains the same. We would be able to dive not only into the powerful text and story but also the imagery, and how visual literacy skills help to convey tone. I find teachers who neglect the practice of reading aloud are leaving a lot of learning opportunities on the table, and I hope my High School colleagues will pick up a book like Read-Alouds with Heart to help build their practice.

In my own professional practice, I have witnessed the power of Read-Alouds as not just an instructional tool but as a community builder. The discussions that come after reading a book like Ibtihaj Muhammad’s The Proudest Blue, illustrated by Hatem Aly

in my rural 99% white classroom, are always focused on learning. As Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop famously coined. Books can serve as Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors for all our students. I find the Read-Aloud serves as a way teachers can help provide those mirrors and open those windows and doors; we just need to be willing and ready to.

Being able to help facilitate these discussions requires educators to be ready themselves. We can not lead or even provide a safe place for this powerful learning without doing the self-work required.

There is an authenticity in this work that is required to do it well. Without interrogating ourselves and doing that learning, we will be ill equipt to lead in our classroom communities. We can read all the books, we can share them with our students, and feature them on our Instagram feeds to show how “dedicated” to the work of anti-racism or SEL or any other focus in education, but until we are looking at our role in these systems, we will not be effective in helping our students learn and grow with Read-Alouds or any other practices within our classrooms.

I love the opportunity to write the chat blog because it helps me to think. It helps me to interrogate the practices I have in place in my classroom and look at how I can apply new learning found in great professional resources like Read-Alouds with Heart and in the discussions from the chat. We are better together as a community. Over the last few years, we have learned that more than ever. Read-Alouds with heart AND purpose, which this text provides, present us with the opportunity to build those communities.

Thank you to the authors of Read-Alouds with Heart, Dana Clark, Keisha Smith-Carrington, and Jigisha Vyas for joining the #G2Great chat this week.

If you are looking to pick up a copy it can be found here

Read-Alouds with Heart: Literacy Lessons That Build Community, Comprehension, and Cultural Competency (Grades K-2)

You can access our #G2Great Chat Wakelet artifact HERE

By Mary Howard

On 8/3/23, we welcomed #G2great chat guests, Dana Clark, Keisha Smith-Carrington and Jigisha Vyas to discuss the grade K-2 edition of their wonderful new book: Read-Alouds with HEART: Literacy Lessons That Build Community, Comprehension, and Cultural Competency (2023, Scholastic). We are excited about their return visit to our chat on 8/10/23 to discuss the grade 3-5 edition.

As I began reading, I was immediately struck by their collective commitment on page 5 of Dear Reader (You can read this beautiful letter in full at the end of my post). The authors explain that their collaboration began with “a seed of hope and a conversation.” I was inspired and very aware that their commitment can inspire ours. We too can plant seeds of hope by engaging in conversation that can become a rich springboard to change. If we are very wise, we will open this door to professional dialogue to come together for our children. Through our shared contemplation we can determine how to expend precious limited minutes in ways that will honor all of the beauty and brilliance that is within them.

Before our #G2Great chat began, we shared our first book quote below. This quote is a reminder that rising to the challenge of collective conversations is not limited to teachers. We must in turn extend conversational invitations to our children as we make them active participants in their own learning through rich inquiry centered on varied identities of book characters real-life people, self and others as we value the conversations they bring to the experience.

When we afford opportunities to contemplate real issues in their individual and shared corner of the world and beyond, we offer a precious gift. The renewed hyperfocus on scripted read-aloud dishonors the “RIGHT” described below. There is a vast difference between a read-aloud ball and chain vs. actively immersing children in exploratory thinking as they pose and contemplate their own questions in a safe invitational environment. We plant seeds of hope FOR and WITH children by giving them a seat of honor at the decision-making and discussion table.

PONDERING POINT: How are you keeping the promise of that “right: alive?

Since this identity work is central to Read-Aloud with HEART, I wanted to draw from some tweets that Keisha, Dana and Jigisha shared in our chat.

Words of wisdom from Keisha Smith-Carrington

Words of wisdom from Jigisha Vyas

Words of wisdom from Dana Clark

In Dana’s last tweet above, she kindly shared TYPES OF CIRCLES added below

When authors grace our #G2great chat, we ask them three questions that offer insight into their book. Let’s look at their response to our first question focused on their BOOK WHY beautifully co-written by Dana, Keisha and Jigisha:

What motivated you to write this book? What impact did you hope that it would have in the professional world?

We have spent the last few years supporting students and teachers through unprecedented stress and uncertainty, in school, at home, and in communities. We’ve all been there–been through it, many of us hope we are on the other side of it. But it raises the question: What is ”it”? The pandemic? No, not so easy. To wildly varying degrees, we’ve experienced the trauma of watching our society come unglued in the midst of the pandemic. As our screens lit up with images of a black man lying on the ground begging for breath, the very best and very worst of humankind showed up. George Floyd’s three words– “I can’t breathe,”–became an echo in our heads and hearts, and a voice heard round the world, igniting a call for social justice. People in every corner of the world began marching in protests, pushing for legislative action, and propelling us towards justice reform on a scale not seen in decades.  

But the worst was unleashed too, in chat rooms and on city streets, and in the heads of those who want to wall themselves off from diversity and equity. And children see and sense it all. The best and the worst. 

 For many students, the trauma of the last few years has been compounded by the fact that the so-called breaking news of violence is not new at all, but old and systemic. They know firsthand the way particular groups have been marginalized. 

As educators, we have to help students process this tumultuous world. It’s hard to believe that a 32-page picture book has the power to heal or solve anything. But it does.

That’s what our book is about. As educators, the time is now to create more socially and emotionally conscious schools. We are standing at a critical junction right now, with the possibilities of more inclusive schools on the horizon if only we commit to that path.

Read-Aloud with HEART is more than a book about reading aloud. The authors ask us to view both choosing and using books as a vehicle to experiences grounded in hope, humanity and humility so that we may touch and thus impact the lives of the kids in front of us . On page 26, they write:

“If they are to thrive, every one of our students needs to feel they belong and have worth in the fullness of any identities they hold.”

Soak that as you acknowledge that this won’t happen by chance…

They ask us to take accountability and responsibility not only to know our children but ourselves as well and understand how our identities can carry biases, misconceptions and assumptions that can become blinders to the realities of others. Read-Aloud with HEART lessons are not one-size-fits-all book recipes that narrow our view but rather book inspirations that offer open-ended invitations with unwavering belief for worth in the fullness of any identities they hold. Their respect for teachers and students is evident across every page as they show us possibilities book offers so that we can choose the right book at the right moment for children who need that book and those conversations that book inspires as we celebrate child-centered opportunities.

The book quote below also speaks volumes. Sadly, our humanity is in question as book banning intensifies across the country and in schools where books are literally being pulled from classroom shelves. Most of these are the very books that a child could connect to the characters and the stories that make them feel SEEN! We must hold tight to an opportunity to push back against anything that robs any child of book experiences that could be a pathway to acknowledging and celebrating who they are not just as learners but as humans.

PONDERING POINT How do you identify and use books that hold our humanity?

Now let’s look as they respond to our 2nd question on their BOOK HOPES:

What are your BIG takeaways from your book that you hope teachers will embrace in their teaching practice?

     Before teachers get to bringing any of the books or lessons forward in their classrooms, we hope teachers understand that the journey of understanding our own identities and biases is essential and is ongoing. We hope teachers see the urgency around self-discovery and the importance of studying the intersection of their own identities and the identities of the students in their care. It is this understanding that influences their everyday interactions and can help them to avoid harm and love their students.

Read-Alouds with Heart springs from the premise that teachers are ready to open up their classrooms to diverse texts and conversations, and ready to cultivate social-emotional learning and students’ understanding of social justice, but they naturally want to do it “right.” With developmental appropriateness, nuance, authenticity, and not at the expense of developing reading skills. Picture books are a vehicle for achieving all these goals, of course, but the text itself is just the beginning. It’s for this reason that we provide specific lenses for reflection and conversation around each of the featured books, so that teachers feel confident and expert, every instructional minute. It is our hope that teachers will embrace and internalize this framework designed to help them select strategies and conversational prompts to bring to critical thinking and community to their classrooms.

The authors gave permission to add Table 1: Reading Lenses on page 9

In addition to the framework, we hope teachers can use our book to consider how our intentions for the experiences we bring to students inform more than the skill being taught; they also inform the structure we choose for the lesson. Our books’ lessons include multiple ways of engaging with students. We want teachers to know that if the goal is for students to share a pathway for thinking, or strategy, they might choose to frame a lesson with the step-by-step strategies offered. However, if their goal is to allow the voices and perspectives in the room to help students see each other’s ideas and be moved by each other, circles are the way to go. 


As I come to a close, I’d like to share a lovely gift from the authors. When we asked them what was a message from the heart they wanted teachers to keep in mind, they generously gave us permission to share an inspirational two-page “DEAR READER.” I fell so in love with these opening pages that I shared a quote at the beginning of this post. Please read their message from the heart slowly because you will then understand the very heart and soul of this book that they eloquently bring to life across the pages that follow.

We are so grateful to Jigisha, Keisha, and Dana for writing Read-Aloud with HEART. It’s a testament to teachers who will choose to open themselves up to someone else’s truth and to the children who will see a change in the world and inspire their own change because of these conversations from the HEART.

Pondering Point: How do you open yourself up to someone else’s truth?

We hope you’ll join us when our wise and wonderful friends return to the #G2Great guest seat as we turn our attention to Read-Alouds with HEART grade 3-5 edition. This is a wonderful opportunity to extend our discussion and widen your read-aloud view further (or explore it from their eyes for the first time.)

Learning to Be Literate: More Than a Single Story

You can read our #G2Great Wakelet Artifact HERE

Written by Mary Howard

On 7/13/23, we had the great pleasure to welcome guest hosts, Patricia Paugh and Deborah MacPhee to #G2great chat. We were all eager to engage in a lively discussion about their new book, “Learning to be Literate: More Than a Single Story” (2023, WW Norton Professional Books). We weren’t surprised that a passionate discussion ensued.

This was the 2nd half of a two-part book pairing including Paul Thomas:

Embracing Reading Science in the “Science of Reading” Era (see my post HERE)

I first met Deborah at the 2019 International Reading Association Annual Conference. After an early morning session with P David Pearson and Nell Duke: What Research Really Say About Teaching Reading and Why it Still Matters, I ran with Fran McVeigh to Deborah’s session with Sherry Sanden: Disrupting the Science of Reading Frenzy. See my notes HERE.

I felt such gratitude to be in that room and I feel the same gratitude for this brilliant collaboration that brought Pat and Deborah together! It seems like a full-circle moment.

Before the chat, we shared a quote reflecting a timely and relevant BOOK WHY:

They extend that view on p. x adding: “The children are our inspiration.” Their shared emphasis that rises from every page is about honoring children. These five words are imprinted in my mind with the overarching imperative that we cannot honor our children unless we refuse to narrow the realm of possibilities as media-driven messages have expected us to do. We are not motivated to do this by engaging in a “reading war” but by showing that our dedication is to put the needs of children and the research that guides those decisions FIRST.

Let’s take this BOOK WHY deeper. When we celebrate our #G2great authors, we ask them to respond to three questions. Question #1 extends their point above:

What motivated you to write this book? What impact did you hope that it would have in the professional world?

Deborah: “I was motivated to write this book after reflecting on my own educational experiences as a student, teacher, coach, and teacher educator and realizing how at every turn I was influenced by the reading wars – or the politics surrounding teaching children to read. It’s difficult to be in the field of literacy education and not get caught up in the war metaphor/discourse. Becoming aware of how this discourse shaped and influenced my thinking opened space for me to recognize when I was responding to an idea, a curriculum, a practice from an ideological position rather than an informed one. It allowed me to see that at any given time I was not considering the full spectrum of knowledge around the learning and teaching of literacy. I hope that this book supports other educators in exploring multiple dimensions of knowledge that must inform practice if we are to serve all children well. We don’t have to choose a side. We can put children at the center and use the best knowledge available across multiple dimensions to be responsive educators.”

Pat: “Our book is an opus for me in seeking to provide a full range of understanding, what Deborah and I call a knowledge map, based in the literature on literacy education and with attention to the diversity of learners who populate our classrooms. In the introduction I talk about my own history as a reader and a literacy teacher. I was a first grade teacher and reading specialist for almost two decades. My education grounded me about the benefits of phonics instruction and also about the importance of providing an instructional environment that builds a sense of competence and agency in young readers. The ongoing debate known as the ‘reading wars” has never been productive. Every classroom in the city where I am now a teacher educator is full of learners who bring cultural, linguistic, ability, and social resources that must be attended to and tapped to develop a full learning program including strong skills AND attention to those learning resources. Teaching literacy is not a single story but instead requires all of us invested in quality literacy education to transcend the debate and access the range of knowledge available to move learning forward.” 

These reflections are all important, but two key ideas below linger in my mind:

Deborah MacPhee: “We can put children at the center and use the best knowledge available across multiple dimensions to be responsive educators.”

Patricia Paugh: “Teaching literacy is not a single story but instead requires all of us invested in quality literacy education to transcend the debate and access the range of knowledge available to move learning forward.” 

Their words are a reminder that a single story asks us to wear blinders to whatever doesn’t fit within the story that EACH child brings to the learning table. While the desire these days seems to be for a simple view of literacy, we recognize that ‘Learning to be Literate’ is complex and simplicity ignores that complexity. I’m inspired by the authors’ literary gift that focuses on what our uniquely diverse learners deserve based on the depth and breadth of knowledge about all that they bring to learning!

In keeping with that thought, I’d like to begin by sharing a few #G2Great Twitter-style reflections during our chat using our first question:


Note that you can see all #G2Great Twitter responses HERE

Early in the chat we also shared this quote from the authors.

Since I selected tweets for our opening question (Q1), I’d like to do the same for our closing question (Q6) that relates to this quote and to the message of paying attention to “More Than a Single Story”:


Note that you can see all of the #G2Great Twitter responses HERE

This a good time to pause again to see how Patricia and Deborah responded to our second book reflection question:

What are your BIG takeaways from your book that you hope teachers will embrace in their teaching practices?

Deborah: “There are many things that I hope teachers embrace from this book, but most importantly I hope that the teachers who read it understand that they are the most important factor in educating children. With that, I hope it gives them confidence to continue to seek out knowledge across cognitive, socio-cultural, affective, and critical dimensions and courage to trust themselves as they apply that knowledge in practice, keeping children at the center.”  

Pat “In the course of writing this book, we spoke with teachers and adult family members and asked what questions they had about how the children in their care learned to read. One common comment was that there was a need by the family members to know what to ask when in dialogue with their child’s teacher. In the final chapter we provide some guiding questions for both teachers and family members to use for those meetings. A second comment was from teachers who wanted information to support a responsive way to navigate the school curriculum to teach and assess their students. A third was to provide a frame for evaluating current instruction in a school setting to ensure that students were receiving the skills and also the dispositions necessary to become independent and effective users of their literacies. Our ALL framework (Active Literacy Learning) provides set of criteria based on the best in the field to ask what are we doing and what else needs doing in a classroom as well as in a school.”


Having read this beautifully crafted co-collaboration from Pat Paugh and Deborah MacPhee, it is my hope that every primary educator will hold this book close and refer to it often. Our primary responsibility to our children is an act of KNOWING and Pat and Deborah ensure they provide this support across their pages for their book:

Know the Research.

Know the Child.

KNOW research-informed instructional practices.

KNOW how to engage in professional decision-making that is responsive to the needs of children based not on mandates but on our critical KNOWINGS.

 On page xvii, Pat and Deborah said what feels like the perfect closing:

“We are unabashedly on the side of every child who is striving to become literate.”

I believe that this is the very heart & soul of Learning to be Literate and our ability to honor MORE THAN A SINGLE STORY. Pat and Deborah remind us that we cannot allow taking “SIDES” to block our view of this beautiful perspective. This essential book supports us as we focus on what matters most: CHILDREN

I’d like to end this post with the inspired thinking of Pat and Deborah as we turn back to our author reflections in our third question

What is a message from the heart you would like for every teacher to keep in mind?

Deborah: “You are in a position to make a positive difference for every child (and family) who enters your classroom. Keep learning, trust yourself, and always reflect on your practice in the light of new knowledge.”

Pat: “One of my favorite children’s books is about Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman in Congress. The title is Shirley Chisholm is a Verb (by Veronica Chambers). My rif on that is Literacy is a Verb! All our young learners should “do” things with their literacy to participate in their world – just like Shirley Chisholm.” 

On behalf of our #G2Great Twitter Chat team, I would like to express our deep gratitude to Pat Paugh and Deborah MacPhee for giving us so much rich food for thought and the wonderful ideas to put that thinking into glorious action. They have encouraged us to hold tight to the idea that our choices must reflect MORE THAN A SINGLE STORY and always in the name of ‘children as our collective inspiration.’ Thank you for giving us all the support we need to make that a reality Pat and Deborah!


Patricia Paugh is a professor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she teaches literacy methods courses and is graduate program director for elementary education. Pat’s scholarship is centered on issues of critical and disciplinary literacy in early childhood and elementary education primarily through collaborative research with teachers in urban classrooms. Her work has been published in academic and professional journals including: Language Arts, Journal of Literacy Research, Reading Research Quarterly, Literacy Researcher: Theory, Method, Practice, and Teaching Education. She has also published three co-edited volumes focused on literacy learning: Teaching toward democracy with post-modern and popular culture textsA classroom teacher’s guide to struggling writers, and A classroom teacher’s guide to struggling readers. Pat brings an extensive background as a first-grade teacher and elementary reading specialist to her current practice as a teacher educator in a public university and as an advocate for teachers’ professionalism. She also currently serves as co-editor for Talking Points, a journal of the National Council of Teachers of English.

Deborah MacPhee is a professor in the School of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois, where she teaches literacy methods courses for undergraduates and directs the Mary and Jean Borg Center for Reading and Literacy. Deborah’s research critically examines discourses of literacy coaching and professional development school interactions and metaphors used in media portrayals of the science of reading. Her work has been published in several academic and professional journals, including Reading Research Quarterly, The Reading Teacher, The International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, School-University Partnerships, and The New Educator. Deborah is a former first and second grade teacher who currently assesses and tutors students who experience difficulty learning to read.

Interview by the NCTE Standing Committee on Assessment by Bobbie Kabuto from Queens College.

TITLE: Literacy Assessment as Advocacy: Learning to Be Literate: More than a Single Story

Part I: 

 Part II: