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!

February 27, 2013

7 Actions That Literacy Leaders Can Take Right Now: Text Complexity

Elfrieda H. Hiebert

Seven actions in which literacy leaders can support teachers in ensuring students’ increased capacity with complex text.


September 12, 2012

It’s Not Just Informational Text That Supports Knowledge Acquisition: The Critical Role of Narrative Text in the Common Core State Standards

Elfrieda H. Hiebert

Literature allows for examination of the influences of culture and history on individuals, not simply on our personal responses to texts. Guiding students in understanding how culture and history influences individual development and agency is part of the bigger picture.


July 30, 2012

Scaffolding Complex Text: Volume of Text Matters

Elfrieda H. Hiebert

What’s the difference between text for below-level readers and advanced reader?  How Lexiles differentiate “difficult” and “easier” books for readers.


June 26, 2012

Syntax and Text Complexity: A Classic Text Goes from College-Career Level to First Grade

Elfrieda H. Hiebert

Dr. Hiebert shows how the Lexile for a text can change with a few simple edits.


June 21, 2012

Teaching Complex Text: Why Look at Word Frequency?

Elfrieda H. Hiebert

A webinar version of this content is also available: Teaching Complex Text: Why Look at Word Frequency For the first time in a standards document, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has a standard—Standard 10—devoted solely to ensuring that studentRead More »Teaching Complex Text: Why Look at Word Frequency?


January 20, 2012

Children’s literacy learning and screen time

Freddy Hiebert

A question that parents frequently ask these days is: Does screen time count as reading time? With such a wide variety of online reading experiences available, the short answer would be have to be, “Yes, but…”


August 3, 2011

Is Reading in Kindergarten the Means for Ensuring College and Career Readiness?

Freddy Hiebert

The inclusion of kindergarten in the CCSS about text difficulty represents an implicit assumption about beginning reading that also requires consideration—that earlier is better. Does beginning reading in kindergarten truly ensure that high school graduates are better at reading the complex texts of careers and college? In this essay, I review research on both the explicit and implicit assumptions within the CCSS regarding formal reading instruction in kindergarten: the dumbing down of kindergarten texts and the pushing down of reading instruction to kindergarten.


June 7, 2011

The 90-10 Rule of Vocabulary in Increasing Students’ Capacity for Complex Text

Freddy Hiebert

Elfrieda (Freddy) Hiebert TextProject & University of California, Santa Cruz The English language has an incredibly rich vocabulary, and yet we use only about 2% of it in the bulk of our typical written texts. This core vocabulary accounts for abouRead More »The 90-10 Rule of Vocabulary in Increasing Students’ Capacity for Complex Text


May 25, 2011

Identifying Principles for the Creation of Texts in A Variety of Languages for Beginning Readers

Freddy Hiebert

Beginning readers need substantial and consistent data about language they are learning.


April 11, 2011

What Teachers and Parents Can Do to Stop the Summer Reading Slide


Students from high and low socioeconomic homes have been found to make similar gains on reading during the school year (Alexander, Entwistle, & Olson, 2004). It’s what happens in the summer that contributes to a growing gap in low- and high-income students’ reading. During the summer, low-income children either fall or stagnate during the summer, while higher-income children continue to progress or maintain their reading levels. By fourth-grade, the accumulated differences over several summers are reflected in a significant gap between low- and high-income students.