Frankly Freddy Blog

TextProject president and CEO Elfrieda H. (Freddy) Hiebert blogs about important issues in reading research and practice.Frankly Freddy entries (published from 2005 to 2014) have been sorted into five topics of literacy learning and instruction. Click here to download the ebook!

Giving Middle-School Readers a Boost with TopicReads

April 26, 2023

Elfrieda (Freddy) H. Hiebert

Middle schoolers who are challenged in reading don’t need more decoding practice with single- syllable words. What they really need is to spend about 10 to 15 minutes reading texts where they can get fast in recognizing the meanings of the 2,500 most-frequent words and their family members. A new set of texts at—TopicReads-Middle School—provides precisely this opportunity. 

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The Science of Reading: Seeking Research-Based Answers to Critical Questions

November 30, 2022

Elfrieda (Freddy) H. Hiebert, TextProject

I wrote a series of five blogs in late 2020 on the relationship of research to reading acquisition and instruction. In the first blog, I promised a final blog that would raise questions that require the attention of researchers. I am finally following through on that promise. This blog presents questions about the curriculum, instruction, and texts of reading instruction (especially in the early stages) for which I have been looking for answers in the ensuing two-year gap.

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Knowledge Building for Beginning Readers

September 19, 2022

Elfrieda Hiebert

Young children are bursting with curiosity about the world around them. A flock of birds flying overhead, the sound of a train, the taste of a kiwi–almost anything can ignite young children’s curiosity. Through answers to their questions and experiences, young children amass a treasure trove of knowledge.

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Read-Alouds That Inspire

March 9, 2021

Elfrieda H. Hiebert

As students return to school, there’s been pressure from parents, administrators, and others to make up for what students may have missed during their absence from the classroom. Everyone is anxious that students get back on track. But what about the stress in children and adults from concerns about health, lost jobs, and recognition of social injustice?

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Results May Vary: Do First-Grade Reading Curriculum and Instruction Need to Be Adapted?

January 25, 2021

Elfrieda H. Hiebert & Alia Pugh

Beginning readers have different levels of proficiency, but many may follow a similar path as they learn new words and orthographic patterns. This may not be the case for those with the lowest levels of ability, so curriculum and instruction should take into account the needs of those who depend most on their in-school literacy experiences.

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Feature Presentation: How Familiarity and Concreteness Can Help Beginning Readers Learn New Words

January 5, 2021

Elfrieda H. Hiebert

Teachers can help beginning readers master more than half of the 2,500 most frequently occurring word families by focusing on words they have already acquired in oral language and words with high concreteness ratings.

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What is the Best Way to Teach Vocabulary?

November 18, 2020

Elfrieda H. Hiebert

With over 600,000 words in written English, which ones should English Language Arts teachers teach, and how?

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Teaching Networks of Words

August 13, 2020

Elfrieda H. Hiebert

Students have trouble learning and retaining lists of unconnected words. Teaching words in networks helps students form connections among the words, bolstering their understanding.

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Getting Back to the Page & Staying There

July 16, 2020

Elfrieda H. Hiebert

Reading is all about knowledge; it’s not just for practice.

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Bad with Names: Why Proper Names Deserve Instructional Attention

January 28, 2020

Alia Pugh and Elfrieda H. Hiebert

Rare words typically make up only 5% or less of the total words in texts, but it’s often these words that get students anxious about reading.

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