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Reading Reconsidered: A Practical Guide to Rigorous Literacy Instruction

ISBN: 978-1-119-10424-7
456 pages
February 2016, Jossey-Bass
Reading Reconsidered: A Practical Guide to Rigorous Literacy Instruction (1119104246) cover image



The world we are preparing our students to succeed in is one bound together by words and phrases. Our students learn their literature, history, math, science, or art via a firm foundation of strong reading skills. When we teach students to read with precision, rigor, and insight, we are truly handing over the key to the kingdom. Of all the subjects we teach reading is first among equals.

Grounded in advice from effective classrooms nationwide, enhanced with more than 40 video clips, Reading Reconsidered takes you into the trenches with actionable guidance from real-life educators and instructional champions. The authors address the anxiety-inducing world of Common Core State Standards, distilling from those standards four key ideas that help hone teaching practices both generally and in preparation for assessments. This 'Core of the Core' comprises the first half of the book and instructs educators on how to teach students to: read harder texts, 'closely read' texts rigorously and intentionally, read nonfiction more effectively, and write more effectively in direct response to texts.

The second half of Reading Reconsidered reinforces these principles, coupling them with the 'fundamentals' of reading instruction—a host of techniques and subject specific tools to reconsider how teachers approach such essential topics as vocabulary, interactive reading, and student autonomy. Reading Reconsidered breaks an overly broad issue into clear, easy-to-implement approaches. Filled with practical tools, including:  

  • 44 video clips of exemplar teachers demonstrating the techniques and principles in their classrooms (note: for online access of this content, please visit my.teachlikeachampion.com)
  • Recommended book lists
  • Downloadable tips and templates on key topics like reading nonfiction, vocabulary instruction, and literary terms and definitions.

Reading Reconsidered provides the framework necessary for teachers to ensure that students forge futures as lifelong readers.

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Table of Contents

DVD Contents ix

About the Authors xvii

About Uncommon Schools xix

Acknowledgments xxi

Introduction 1

PART 1 The Core of the Core 11

1 Text Selection 13

Module 1.1: The Decline of the Canon 18

Module 1.2: Text Attributes and Leveling Systems 23

Module 1.3: The Five Plagues of the Developing Reader 29

Module 1.4: Book Choice 45

Module 1.5: Managing Selection 52

2 Close Reading 57

Module 2.1: Layered Reading 63

Module 2.2: Establish Meaning via Text-Dependent Questions 71

Module 2.3: Close Reading to Analyze Meaning 83

Module 2.4: Processing Ideas and Insights in Writing, and the Power of Clear Focus 97

Module 2.5: Close Reading Bursts 102

3 Reading Nonfiction, and the Challenge of Background Knowledge 113

Module 3.1: The Key Challenge: Background Knowledge 117

Module 3.2: Absorption Rate 120

Module 3.3: Embedding Texts to Increase Absorption Rate and Build Background Knowledge 123

Module 3.4: OtherWays to Build Background Knowledge 137

Module 3.5: Some Unique Challenges of Nonfiction 143

4 Writing for Reading 155

Module 4.1: Reading Class Cycles 161

Module 4.2:Writing Is Revising 178

Module 4.3: Art of the Sentence 186

Module 4.4: Building Stamina 195

Module 4.5: Monitoring and Assessment via the Stack Audit 200

PART 2 The Fundamentals 205

5 Approaches to Reading: Reading More, Reading Better 207

Module 5.1: Approaches to Reading 211

Module 5.2: Accountable Independent Reading (AIR) 216

Module 5.3: Control the Game 225

Module 5.4: Read-Aloud 239

6 Vocabulary Instruction: Breadth and Depth 249

Module 6.1: Explicit and Implicit Vocabulary Instruction Compared 253

Module 6.2: Explicit Vocabulary Instruction:The Daily Word Rollout to Achieve Deep Word Knowledge 256

Module 6.3: Implicit Instruction: Building Vocabulary During Reading 270

Module 6.4: Maintenance and Extension 281

7 Reading Systems 287

Module 7.1: Interactive Reading: An Overview 290

Module 7.2: Phases of Implementation: Rollout, Modeling, Prompting, Autonomy 293

Module 7.3: Interactive Reading System: How to Mark Up a Text (and What to Mark) 299

Module 7.4: Discussion Systems: Laying the Groundwork for Habits of Discussion 307

Module 7.5: Discussion Systems: Beyond the Groundwork 314

8 Toward Intellectual Autonomy 323

Module 8.1: Frameworks for Interpretation 327

Module 8.2: Technical Vocabulary 338

Module 8.3: Phases of Development 342

Module 8.4: Autonomous Writing Structures 352

Module 8.5: Autonomous Discussion Structures 355

Appendix: Useful Tools 365

Index 387

How to Access the Online Contents 411

How to Use the DVD 413

More Ways to Engage and Learn with Teach Like a Champion 415

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Author Information

DOUG LEMOV is a managing director of Uncommon Schools and leads its Teach Like a Champion team, designing and implementing teacher training based on the study of high-performing teachers. He is the author of Teach Like a Champion 2.0 and coauthor of Practice Perfect.

COLLEEN DRIGGS is a director of professional development for the Teach Like a Champion team at Uncommon Schools. Prior to joining the Teach Like a Champion team she was a middle school science and literacy teacher.

ERICA WOOLWAY is the chief academic officer for the Teach Like a Champion team at Uncommon Schools. She is a coauthor of Practice Perfect. Erica began her career in education as a kindergarten teacher and then worked as a school counselor and dean.

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“This concentrates so much outstanding material in the space of a book, plus an excellent DVD showing the approach in practice, that it should be read by every headteacher and English co-ordinator in the country and incorporated into training for new and practising teachers.” (Conservative Home, May 2016)

“…contains a wealth of information and practical advice – most of it distilled from experienced practitioners – that will be of benefit to anyone teaching reading and literacy.” (InTuition, June 2016)

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Related Websites / Extra

http://teachlikeachampion.com/ Visit Doug Lemov's new blog to learn more about his ongoing work, as well as sign up for a free e-newsletter!
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Press Release

May 03, 2016
Reading Reconsidered, The Next Book by Bestselling Author Doug Lemov

The 2010 article, “Building a Better Teacher”—the article that “launched” Doug Lemov’s bestselling book, Teach Like a Champion—compared two schools of thought: one that teaching skills were the most important driver of classroom learning, the other that content knowledge was the true driver. Some readers saw a conflict between these two perspectives.

Lemov, along with Erica Woolway and Colleen Driggs, have always thought that the answer was more complex: that technique was irreplaceable and helped teachers maximize the application of their subject knowledge but there was also no substitute for content knowledge. Moreover, they believed there were in fact techniques specific to each of the content areas that drive results and could be delineated and learned like the general techniques in Teach Like a Champion. Their new book, Reading Reconsidered: A Practical Guide to Rigorous Literacy Instruction (Wiley, Jossey-Bass, February 2016), is the authors' first effort to take on the challenge of defining subject specific methods.

“Among the core subjects taught in school, reading is the first among equals – the most singular in importance because all others rely on it,” explains Driggs. “Excellence in almost any school subject requires strong reading.”

Reading Reconsidered solves the problem of de-mystifying the Common Core and its impact on literacy instruction by addressing the four major shifts of teaching literacy in a Common Core era: read harder texts, read more non-fiction, write in direct response to texts and “close read” texts frequently. Regardless of how schools and teachers may feel about the practical realities of assessment and implementation, it’s important for teachers to engage the questions the Common Core seeks to raise at the philosophical level.

“To us, these four ideas make up the ‘core of the core,’” says Lemov. “When we discuss the Common Core, it is, for the most part, these four ideas that we engage. No matter what happens to the Core on the practical side, no matter how it is assessed, making these four changes and making them well is likely to ensure your students are better prepared for college and life.”

Broken up into eight chapters, chapters 1-4 focus on the “core of the core” and chapters 5-8 on the “fundamentals” core elements of literacy instruction. Specifically, each section covers:


  • Chapter 1: addresses text selection, the idea that what we choose to read matters as much as how we read it.
  • Chapter 2: takes on Close Reading – defining it and providing a set of tools that can help teachers close read with rigor and insight.
  • Chapter 3: addresses the importance of non-fiction.
  • Chapter 4: takes on the topic of writing and specific ways to teach it to help students read more effectively.
  • Chapter 5: focuses on ensuring students read a lot in a variety of ways – silently, aloud and being read to.
  • Chapter 6: takes on vocabulary and proposes a two-part approach using both explicit and implicit vocabulary instruction.
  • Chapter 7: focuses on consistent ways to approach key activities in the literacy classroom to make them more efficient, productive and autonomous.
  • Chapter 8: addresses the ultimate goal of reading instruction: intellectual autonomy.


“Ultimately, Reading Reconsidered is about the enduring power of reading to shape and develop minds, both in the classroom and, ultimately, outside of it,” adds Woolway. “It’s an anxious time for many teachers but also a time of great opportunity. This book will provide a road map from confusion to success.”

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