Literacy Lenses

Focusing on The Literacy Work that Matters

Framing Increasing VOLUME as Our Central Intervention Goal (3/5)

by Fran McVeigh

The June 7th, 2019 #G2Great chat was the midpoint of five chats scheduled under the title: Rethinking our Intervention Design as a Schoolwide All-Hands on Deck Imperative and and it was momentous as the Twitterverse was filled with wisdom about increasing volume.

Before we can begin, what exactly are we talking about?

What is volume? This question whirred in my brain for the week leading up to the chat as I thought about my answers to the chat questions and this follow up blog post. Some answers: Not the volume on the TV. Not the “speak louder” for volume in fluent reading. Not the first “volume” in the Harry Potter series. Not the volume measurement in liters.

How do you define volume in reading? In search of a definition of volume, I consulted some reading texts, Google Scholar, and some real life literacy scholars. There are several definitions available. Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis define it as “Access + Choice + Time.” Those three elements were present in the pre-chat quotes shown here.

Although literacy gurus agreed that volume was critical to student success in reading and writing, everyone also had just a little different twist that added depth. Allington said it most succinctly when he talked of time spent reading and number of words read.

Scholastic. June 2015

Others chimed in with “meaningful” and “engaged” reading as well as “across the day” although a commitment to time remained constant. Both Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher tell us that if students are not reading AT school then we know they are not reading at home either.

But is Reading Volume more flexible and fluid than JUST time and words?

Yes, there must be a commitment to time but a small part also says access means a lot of texts as well as the engagement factor or rapture of being “lost in a great book” and then the meaningful conversations that come from conferring and dialogue about books.

How do we measure Reading Volume?

In the past many have tried to measure reading volume with book logs and lists of books read. Questions and concerns arose from those practices: Were the books chosen by the students or the teachers? Were the lists accurate? Did the lists include some “fake reading” titles?

Accountability may have won the battle and lost the Volume War as students did the “bare minimum” or perhaps less only in the name of compliance or completed logs. Time is surely one factor.

But does time only count when provided by teachers?

What about the time when students are “sneak reading”? And HOW would time be counted? Minutes? Pages? Books? If we value time spent reading, there is no time to be wasted “counting” words so we could use “The Google” to find out some word counts. (Try googling Harry Potter and number of words just for fun.) As students build up stamina, how could/should those counts increase?

One way to consider the flexibility and fluidity of time is shown in this table from Simple Starts by Kari Yates. The differences between the fall and spring show the expected growth in time and also reflects the increased difficulty of texts throughout the course of the year.

Heinemann link

A commitment to access to quality books (chat #2) and quality Tier 1 (chat #1) are a great beginning to improving interventions for striving students. Where do we find Access, Choice and Time that are necessary for reading VOLUME? We will need to continue to say NO to programs that don’t allow students to have access, choice and time to read. We will need to continue to say NO to interventions that don’t allow students to have access, choice and time to read. We will need to say NO to “magic bullets” that don’t allow students to have access, choice and time to read. We will need to say NO to spending money on resources that don’t allow students to have access, choice and time to read.

How can these tweets add to your knowledge bank?

Tweets curated from Wakelet

What conversations do YOU need to have about VOLUME?

Maximizing Our Potential: Allocating Instructional Time 1/5

Guest Post By Valinda Kimmel

In 1963, John Carroll first wrote about the correlation between learning and time. His paper, “A Model of School Learning”, advanced that authentic learning relies heavily on the amount of time an individual is allowed to devote to active engagement in a specific learning process. Thirty-five years later, Wong and Wong (1998) described four types of time built into a school day:

  1. Allocated time. The total time for teacher instruction and student learning
  2. Instructional time. The time teachers are actively teaching
  3. Engaged time. The time students are involved in a task
  4. Academic learning time. The time teachers can prove that students learned the content or mastered the skill

Furthermore, Wong and Wong (1998), found that 90 percent of allocated time was occupied by teacher talk. This is in opposition to the way that students learn best—by engaging in the authentic work of the content area.

Teachers mean well in wanting to give students valuable information, but extended teacher “mini- lessons” which then result in brief student work time, (independent or group structures) doesn’t allow kids adequate time to internalize or sufficiently transfer the learning.

Other practices in classrooms also steal valuable minutes from academic learning time. One of the biggest time-wasting activities is using lesson time to collect resources, materials, supplies for the lesson. This unintentionally allows students to be in a sort of “limbo” and often results in off-task behaviors or undesirable social interactions.

In addition, terse or non-existent closure for the lesson leaves students without a critical element of learning that “sticks”. Little or no intentional lesson closure also cheats the teacher of valuable formative assessment data when there is a lack of time for students to reflect, discuss or write about their learning.

It’s true that academic learning is reliant on quantity of time, but it also involves quality of time spent on content standards and learner dispositions. How much of the allotted time is dedicated to students working on the authentic tasks of readers and writers? Respectful tasks that lead readers and writers to greater understanding of the processes required for the work is critical for academic success. Instruction and practice of new concepts must be intentionally, strategically planned in a way that allows students to experience success at a minimum of 75% of the learning time.

Artful teachers facilitate transfer of learning by:

  • designing compelling, relevant lessons that engage and captivate
  • differentiating for the unique learning needs of all students by adjusting elements of instruction, practice and formative assessment tasks
  • including skillful pedagogy moves by modeling, providing guided practice, and curative feedback

As professionals we know we are often plagued by the tyranny of the urgent, so we’re clear on the importance of intentional, systematic instructional planning that starts with the student at the core of the curriculum. When we take the time to know our students, design instruction and application of new learning with adequate supports in place, use ongoing assessments that inform and influence subsequent learning we are aligning our practice with our belief that every student can and will learn.

Curated Tweets:

About Our Guest Blogger:

Valinda Kimmel began teaching three decades ago. She most recently worked as a K-6 instructional coach on an elementary campus in Texas and now has an educational consulting service collaborating with teachers, coaches and campus administrators. You can find her on Twitter @vrkimmel and on her site at

What matters most?  Reverence or Relevance?

By Fran McVeigh

In the week leading up to this chat on July 19, 2018, I wondered about the title and where it would take the chat. I consulted the dictionary and the thesaurus. I even discussed the topic with a co-moderator. I wanted an idea or a theme in mind to “jump start” my thinking. A spark.  An angle. A beginning point. After all . . . I was going to be at #ILA18 and my goal was to not spend all weekend writing a blog post. So here’s a small snapshot of what I discovered.

Synonyms for Reverence (Source link)

Synonyms for Relevance  (Source link)

Reverence:  High opinion.

Relevance:  Pertinence.  

The “or” in the title suggests one or the other.

Flip a coin. It’s a high opinion.  

Flip again. It’s pertinent.  

But . . .

I have this queasy feeling in my stomach.

When is high opinion enough?

When the teacher says, “I like it.” ???

When the teacher says, “It has research to support it.” ???

When the administrator says, “This is what I bought.” ???

When is pertinence enough?

When the teacher says, “This is what my kids need.” ???

When the teacher says, “It worked this way for my students last year but I think if I try this one little change, it may work even better.” ???

When the administrator says, “Have you checked with others about this idea? And with whom?” ???

Before you make a decision about what you want (those things you revere) or what is needed (or relevant), let’s review this curated sample of #G2Great community tweets. The link for the entire Wakelet (archive) is at the bottom of this page.

What are our beliefs?

Meaningful, purposeful work:  What are we in awe of?

Goals:  What are we in awe of?  What do we believe is best for students?

Collaboration and Goal-Setting:  How do we keep students at the center?

Time:  How do we allocate and use time to reflect what we revere and what is relevant?

Talk:  How do we ensure that students talk more in the service of learning than the teacher?

Eureka . . .

What if, instead of trying to decide whether we need to start, continue, or stop doing something because of its reverence or relevance, we decided that both factors would be part of the same lens or filter? What if reverence AND relevance became a double simultaneous filter for reviewing and reflecting on our teaching needs and desires?

And as I participated in the chat in the midst of a group of #G2Great dear friends,





Giggling occasionally

Greeting passer-bys

Reverence and relevance both merged together in Brent’s Canva of a quote from Dr. Mary Howard here.

. . . amazing child . . . notice and nurture . . . incredible potential . . . that resides in each child . . . without exception!

If that’s our vision and our goal how can we not use our understanding of reverence and relevance together?

And now that you have read through a curated set of tweets, just think about what learning in our classrooms could be if we asked students to “curate their learning daily.”  What possibilities do you envision?

Copy of Wakelet here