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Let’s Talk Literacy webinar

In our DUMBO office on January 23, Amplify hosted a live conversation with literacy expert Timothy Shanahan, Ph.D. and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chi­cago and Amplify CEO Larry Berger. We live-streamed the event for teachers and educators all over the country, and the video—embedded below—has generated more than 3,000 views on YouTube.

The topic: Early literacy. Tim and Larry discussed hot-button issues such as phonics instruction, decoding text, and teaching complex and grade-level reading material. This impactful conversation provided new insights into reading strategies and a new understanding of what early literacy means today.


Some highlights from the conversation:

Tim Shanahan:

“One of the things that has impressed me about Amplify—and is really special and I hope they never lose—is a real orientation to paying attention to how kids use their programs. Essentially, they try this stuff out and get feedback from the kids and they pay attention to that and that excites me and interests me.”

“It becomes paramount that we make sure kids aren’t just reading at their level but are being stretched out and required to come up against those barriers so that there’s actually something for them to learn.”

“That would be fine if putting them in the easier book was giving them an advantage. But if it’s either not helping them or hurting them, it’s a crazy choice. So that means we have to work really hard to make sure we know how to scaffold to allow those kids to read a book a few years above their reading level.”

Larry Berger:

“The idea that you use complex texts to teach kids all the strategies for reading rather than teach a bunch of skills so that they can someday read a complex text is the fundamental idea in the curriculum products we’ve been building. So we are trying to figure out all the techniques of scaffolding and supporting different kinds of strategies as kids are reading.”

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