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Since 2011, TextProject has operated as a nonprofit aimed at supporting teachers, teacher educators, and researchers with open-access resources that demonstrate solutions for improving literacy levels.
We have resources aimed at three groups: teachers, professional development leaders, and researchers. You can visit the menus for the resources aimed at each of these groups.
But many of the resources are not limited to a single user group. For teacher education and professional development contexts, organizing content around topics is also useful. An interest in a topic such as text complexity is not limited to a single user group. For that reason, TextProject’s resources have also been organized around topics. This guide to Topics provides a way for users to get an overview of the rich resources at TextProject.
These resources provide a way for users to get an overview of the rich resources at TextProject.
The Common Core State Standards represent a collaboration by states to set the same goals for student learning. Within these standards, explicit text levels are given across the grades to ensure that high school graduates are college and career ready. Beginning with the grade 2-3 band, target text levels have increased from previous recommendations. However, the Standards provide little guidance on how to support the many students who struggle with current grade-level texts. TextProject has responded rapidly to this need with research-based resources that will guide and inform educators, parents, and community leaders.
Assessment is all about understanding what knowledge learners have gained. In the formative assessment process, teachers and students gather information as part of the teaching-learning cycle. Summative assessments focus on the outcomes of the teaching-learning process— information that is frequently used in high-stakes contexts by policy makers. Currently, many states are moving into a new generation of summative assessments. TextProject is committed to providing educators with the best possible guidance and resources about the new generation of assessments.
How children are initiated into reading influences their overall success and their engagement over their lifetimes. Reading opportunities that recognize young children’s developmental capacities, their interests, and their ways of learning all contribute to creating engaged and proficient, lifelong readers.
Text—whether it is on a sign or in a book—is central to reading. The texts in school can be thought of as a diet for beginning and struggling readers. To get a good start in reading (or restart, in the case of struggling readers), texts need to give students core and critical information about the written language. TextProject is the premiere site for information on appropriate texts for beginning and struggling readers.
Learning from texts and remembering or integrating the knowledge from texts is at the heart of our work as literacy educators. Proficient reading requires integrating new knowledge from texts with existing knowledge. The Common Core State Standards place the content of texts as the source for new ideas or challenging existing ones at the heart of reading comprehension. TextProject resources support teachers in understanding evidence-based reading (sometimes referred to as close reading). Resources also include texts that teachers can use with their students as the basis for discussions and close reading.
Success in the digital age depends on comprehending complex text. Within any complex text, the majority of words come from a very small group of words in the written English language. On average, 90% of the words in a text are drawn from 4,000 simple word families (e.g., help, helping, helps, helped, helper, but not helpless or helpful). The other 10% of the words in texts come from the remaining 300,000 (or more) words in the English language. When readers aren’t adept with the core vocabulary (i.e., the 4,000 simple word families), they have few resources to deal with the new and unique vocabulary within texts.
Learning to read and write in English, while simultaneously becoming facile with spoken English, is a challenge for the many English Learners in American schools. Fourth graders who are native Spanish speakers perform 25 points lower than their native English-speaking peers on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. To close this gap requires intentional and appropriate instruction for English Learners. Developing a rich vocabulary is especially critical for all students, as indicated by the close relationship between vocabulary and comprehension. For English Learners, intentional instruction and experiences with vocabulary are especially critical. TextProject has numerous resources to support educators in ensuring that English Learners get the solid foundation that they need to become highly literate.
Texts are where humans share and store what they learned. The reason for reading—regardless of whether texts are narrative or informational—is to acquire the knowledge that texts hold. To truly become proficient readers of complex texts, students need to be immersed in informational texts.
Vocabulary is the term for the words of a language and morphology is the term for the study of the parts of words. Students’ vocabularies expand through the study of word parts, specifically root or base words (e.g., connect), affixes (e.g., reconnect, connection), and inflectional morphemes (e.g., connects, connecting, connected).
The study of word parts increases awareness of the links between words, including the origins of words in other languages. The term cognate means to have “the same ancestry.” Many English words are close cognates to German words (e.g., apple/Apfel). Other English words are easily traced to French words (e.g., communicate/communiquer). French and Spanish both originated from Latin which means that cognates also exist between English and Spanish words (e.g., communicate/comunicar). TextProject provides valuable resources for teachers to support students in developing morphological awareness and knowledge across languages.
The biggest obstacle to proficient reading for many students is their lack of automaticity, or speed, in understanding words. Most students, even those in the lowest quartile, can recognize frequent words…eventually. The problem lies in the length of time that it takes them to recognize even common words. Struggling readers devote their energies to recognizing words, thus not attending to the content of what they are reading.
Getting good at cognitive-motor processes such as playing the piano, golfing, doing surgery, and reading is a result of practice. Likewise, proficient reading is built on numerous reading experiences. For many students, reading opportunities occur in classrooms first. If these students do not acquire strong reading habits in classrooms, it is doubtful that they will be eager to read extensively outside of school. Even a little more reading time can go a long way. In fact, as little as an additional 7 minutes of reading per day has been shown to differentiate classrooms in which students read well from those in which students were not as proficient readers.
By the end of the primary grades, students who are not proficient silent readers begin falling further and further behind in school. If students aren’t adept at silent reading, they simply can’t keep up. But for many students, good silent reading habits do not come naturally. In particular, silent reading habits do not smoothly transfer from frequent oral reading events. Silent reading involves self-monitoring and also the stamina to keep reading and thinking, even when content is challenging. For many 21st century students, the skills of silent reading depend on instructional experiences in classrooms.
Students who don’t read much over the summer show a decline in reading performance from the end of one grade to the start of the next. Often, it is low-income students who don’t have ready access to books at home that face this problem. Typically, when low-income students are given books for summer reading, the texts are too difficult for students to read successfully on their own.
Being able to read increasingly more complex texts has always been a driving goal of reading instruction. Often this goal has not been directly addressed in state standards and assessments. Things are different with the Common Core State Standards. The Common Core has paid increased attention to this feature of reading instruction by devoting an entire standard to text complexity— Standard 10.
Of all the features of complex text, vocabulary is the one that best predicts students’ comprehension. It is also the feature of complex text that is the most straightforward to teach. TextProject has numerous resources to aid in teacher knowledge and in classroom implementation of a generative vocabulary program—one in which students come to understand how English vocabulary work as opposed to strictly memorizing new words.