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These are the content areas that drive TextProject's research and development of products and teaching strategies. Each topic page listed below summarizes the essential resources and information available here on TextProject site.
The Common Core State Standards is the first effort by American states (43 to date) to set the same goals for student learning. Within the 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. The Standards provide little guidance, however, 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.
With the new Common Core State Standards comes a set of new assessments. What will the new assessments look like and how do we prepare our students for them?
A 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 written language. TextProject is the premiere site for information on appropriate texts for beginning and struggling readers.
Within any complex text, the majority of words come from a very small group of words in written English. 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. Many words in this latter group don't occur often (less than once per million) but, as extended vocabulary, they give a text much of its distinctiveness. In stories, the rarer words enhance interest and understanding of characters, setting, and plot. In informational texts, the rarer words are often technical terms that give precision and clarity to the content. The extended vocabulary is often what is new for readers and increases the complexity of a text.
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. Research done at Harvard University by James Kim shows that even reading 4 or 5 books over the summer helps to prevent the summer slump. Often, it is low-income students who don’t have ready access to books at homes. Typically, the books that are distributed for summer reading are too hard for students to read by themselves. TextProject is the nation’s best resource for summer reading.
Being able to read increasingly more complex texts has always been a driving goal of reading instruction. But often this goal has not been directly addressed in state standards and assessments. Things are different within the Common Core State Standards.
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 (connect), affixes (reconnect, connection, inflectional morphemes (e.g., connects, connecting, connected). TextProject provides many valuable resources on morphology, including English-Spanish cognates.
Most of the words in texts come from a core group of about 5,500 words--up to 90% of the total words in texts for elementary students. This group of core words is the same, whether the text tells a story or conveys information. The other 10% of vocabulary comes from a vast store of English words (300,000 to 600,000 words, depending on whether archaic, derivational, and dialect words are included).
Differences in the extended vocabularies of stories and informational texts mean substantial differences for instruction. TextProject provides a wealth of resources on selecting and instructing the extended vocabularies of stories and informational texts.
By the end of the primary grades, students who are not proficient silent readers begin falling further and further behind in school and, eventually, the workplace. The reason why is that texts are the source of much new information. If students aren’t adept at silent reading, they simply won’t keep up. But for many students, good silent reading habits do not “just happen.” For many 21st century students, the skills of silent reading and the increases in comprehension-based silent reading rate depend on instructional experiences in classrooms. TextProject is one of the primary places where educators can find sources on this very critical aspect of literacy instruction.
The biggest obstacle to proficient reading for many U.S. fourth graders is their lack of automaticity or speed in understanding words. Even the students in the lowest percentiles can recognize most 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. TextProject was started to address this problem. Over the past decade, we have developed a set of solutions that revolve around a simple principle in written language called the 90-10 rule. Approximately 9,000 words (4,000 root words and their simple endings) account for 90% of the total words in most texts.