top of page

On Saturday, March 9, 2019, the Twin Cities Area Reading Council (TCARC) and Scholastic Education welcomed Jan Richardson to the Twin Cities. The TCARC leadership along with 220 fellow educators came together to learn with Jan.

Jan Richardson spoke eloquently about comprehension from her book, The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading: An Assess-Decide-Guide Framework for Supporting Every Reader. Jan reminded us that guided reading is not the entire literacy block. It is a part of a balanced literacy approach to teaching and applying reading and writing skills. The guided reading portion of our literacy block should include productive struggle by students, requires knowledge of the reading process, integration of reading, writing, and speaking, and is the best opportunity to scaffold comprehension.

When teaching comprehension through a gradual release model, teachers scaffold by teaching whole group, small group, and independently. During small group/guided reading, comprehension should be taught before, during, and after reading. Teaching comprehension skills during the introduction of a book is important. Comprehension should be scaffolded for learning throughout the lesson, not just taught at the end of a lesson.

Jan explained her four main points for teaching comprehension during guided reading: knowing your readers, selecting a focus, selecting an engaging book that supports the focus, and discussing the text.

Jan concluded her presentation by providing a brief overview of her new book: The Next Step Forward in Reading Intervention: The RISE Framework. For further information, tips, video clips, and resources from Jan, please visit Jan Richardson’s website.

The response to Jan Richardson was so great that we are in discussion with Jan to have her present for us again next year. Look for an update soon. We hope you can join us!


Literacy professionals from across the Twin Cities recently gathered at St. Kate’s University to attend the Twin Cities Area Reading Council (TCARC)/Scholastic Education’s Achievement Event with literacy experts Maria P. Walther and Carmen Agra Deedy along with Scholastic Education presenters that focused on harnessing the power and joy of reading to increase achievement for all students.

The morning event began with Maria P. Walther’s presentation entitled Peace, Joy, and Books! Creating a Vibrant Reading Community. Her ten tips to creating a vibrant reading community are:

  1. Place Books up Front “The small things are important - what your room

  2. Promote Books looks like, how you introduce the books, where

  3. Know Your Readers the books are in your room....”

  4. Know Your Books

  5. Match Readers with Books

  6. Teach Readers About Authors and Series Books

  7. Introduce a Variety of Genres

  8. Surround Students with Books: Create a Library Classroom

  9. Provide Ample Time for Supported Reading within the Workshop Structure

  10. Celebrate the Joy and Power of Reading

The second featured speaker was Kim Towe who spoke about Classroom Libraries: Building a Pathway to Independent Reading. Kim emphasized the importance of making sure that the books in classroom libraries are books that students want to read, books that they can read, and that students have choice in what they read. Her recommendation was that 30% of books in the classroom should have a publishing date within the last 3-5 years and that regular weeding is a must. She also suggests giving students a role in organizing and labeling the classroom library as it gives students an opportunity to browse through all of the books. “Build a library for the readers you expect, and customize it for the readers you have.”

Jenni Brasington was the third featured speaker and her topic was Building Families’ Capacity to Support Literacy at Home. She suggested that schools take a hard look at how they are engaging families as it is a practice, not an instructional strategy, and that family engagement should be viewed as a partnership between home and school. Family engagement involves regular two way communication, co-created activities, and is inclusive. Higher impact engagement strategies are:

  • Positive Phone Calls

  • Goal Setting Conversations

  • Regular, Personalized Conversation

  • Weekly Data-Sharing Folders

  • Home Visits

  • Interactive Homework and Tips/Tools for Home Learning

“Family engagement is not about doing more; it is about doing it differently.”

The morning concluded with Carmen Agra Deedy who spoke on The Words that Make Us Human: Story as a Pathway to Literacy. Carmen had the audience captivated as she told stories of her grandfather, her family, and memories from her youth. She is the author of a number of books for children. Visit for more information.

Overall, it was a wonderful day of literacy learning to support increased achievement for all students.


In May, the Twin Cities Area Reading Council TCARC had the privilege of hosting an evening with literacy guru, Jennifer Serravallo, with her presentation focused on Complete Comprehension.

Jen has written many books in the area of literacy; and her newest book, Understanding Texts and Readers, (available in September 2018) helps educators connect assessment to instruction through an understanding of reader behaviors and text levels.

Those in attendance were both enlightened and entertained as Serravallo spoke about the importance of understanding reading behaviors and text levels to help guide instruction. Jen stressed the role of assessment as a necessary component to support students’ growth in comprehension. In order to understand our students’ reading behaviors and comprehension we first need to assess them. We need to hear kids read and engage them in dialogue that will elicit their understanding of the text. It is also important that we know what types of responses should be expected to show comprehension within various levels of text.

In order to know the types of responses necessary for true comprehension at various text levels we need to have a working knowledge of text complexity within those levels. When we understand what type of thinking is needed for comprehension at different levels of text complexity, we can then teach strategies that will help our students go deeper in their learning. An understanding of the subtle demands in comprehension across text levels can help us gain a better understanding of our readers’ development and allow us to match them with the appropriate text that will provide that “sweet spot” for learning growth. Serravallo also highlighted the importance of goal setting and how to help readers set meaningful goals during reading conferences. Often our goal setting for students is very generic. We don’t intend it to be that way but sometimes we’re unsure of how to really guide students to that next level of reading development.

Serravallo spoke (and writes in her book) about how to truly understand student reading behaviors and responses along with text complexity in order to help students make meaningful goals. She offers the following framework that divides reading goals into a hierarchy that outlines a clear progression and differentiates between fiction/literature and nonfiction/information.

bottom of page