The Threads of Reading – Karen Tankersley

girl reading on the lawn with an apple next to her.

Nothing is more important for a teacher than to know how to use good reading strategies and practices. Making a difference with our students is why we all became educators. Becoming strong and proficient readers and writers is critical for our students.

On my blog, you will find many new ideas and suggestions for becoming a masterful “weaver” of reading instruction in your own classroom.

The goal of my website is to help you create strong and effective readers in your classroom. I have gathered hundreds of tips, tricks, and reading strategies that will help you meet the literacy needs of your students.

Many of these ideas featured here come from my own work as a reading specialist, literacy coach and professional developer.

Other tips and reading strategies are from the successful instructional strategies of great reading teachers I have known over the years.  Other ideas are from important research being done in the field that translates into effective instruction.

I will also pass along good ideas from other literacy experts in the field that you might find helpful for your own classroom instruction.

Share Your Own Effective Reading Strategies and Tips

Feel free to leave suggestions on great reading tips you use with your own students as you read. Also, feel free to ask questions or comment on the ideas and suggestions found here.

Please be an active participant when you visit here.  Return again and again for ideas, teaching strategies, and inspiration. 

Teaching students to read well is not an easy job. The more we share great ideas and identify what works to improve student proficiency, the better readers our students become.T

Thank you for the work that you do every day!  You are valued and appreciated!

Karen’s Books on Teaching Reading

In addition to the information presented here, you may enjoy reading some of my books on teaching reading and working with struggling readers:

The Threads of Reading: Strategies for Literacy Development

Literacy Strategies for Grades 4-12:  Reinforcing the Threads of Reading

Tests that Teach: Using Standardized Tests to Improve Instruction

How to Help Your Child Become a Great Reader: Easy Literacy Games and Activities to Do at Home

Instructional Coaching Impacts Teacher Performance

Literacy Coaching for Reading Effectiveness

If you are a relatively new Instructional Coach or Reading coach in your school, then you may also enjoy reading my book on literacy coaching:

Coaching the Threads of Reading: Helping Teachers Build Reading Success

New Class for Literacy Coaches

Check out my new Literacy course, Coaching Heroes and Champions.

In this course, you will be able to improve your ability to inspire and coach the teachers in your school. You will be able to cultivate success as a literacy coach who facilitates adult learning that changes practice. You will understand how to build trusting and caring coaching relationships that enable teacher success. You will learn to use coaching strategies to increase student academic performance and facilitate student-centered practices that instill joy in the classroom.

Here is a list of what you will learn in Bringing Out the Heroes and Champions in Teachers: Instructional Coaching that Gets Results

Module 1: Clarifying the Coaching Role, Purpose and Vision for Success

Module 2: How to Differentiate Support to Meet Individual Teacher Needs

Module 3: Adult Learning, Mental Models and Teacher Career Stages

Module 4: Using Formative and Summative Assessment to Maximize Student Achievement

Module 5: Planning and Teaching for Maximizing Achievement

Module 6: Powerful Communications

I am currently looking for a small group of coaches who would like to be “beta testers” of the course to provide feedback. I will give the first 10 enrollees a discount of $200 off of the regular course purchase price of $279 in exchange for feedback on your learning and the course content.

If you would like to take the course as a beta tester, enter “beabeta” as the coupon code to receive your discount.

I would love to hear your feedback on what you like and how the course might be improved for future students!

Understanding Text Complexity – Quantitative Measures

The new Common Core standards have called for using text with increased complexity. In this short post, we will look at the various elements that help determine how complex a text is judged to be. First there are the quantitative measures such as looking at the text length and cohesion, the sentence and word length, the vocabulary difficulty and how often difficult words appear in the text.  The word frequency, called “semantic difficulty,” coupled with the sentence length, called “syntactic complexity” are the two factors that can predict how difficult a text will be to understand.  There are formulas that use these key textual features to determine how difficult the passage is to read or the passage “readability.”  In decades past, teachers have used such quantitative measures as the Fry or Chall Readability scales to match text to student.While there are several elements that make up text complexity, in this post, I will discuss the quantitative  measures that should be considered to judge text complexity. In future posts, I will continue this discussion to explain the other elements that should be used to determine the text complexity of a passage.

Currently, most reading teachers are using the Lexile text analysis tool  ( to match readers and text. Typically, students would be expected to read in the following lexile ranges: K-1: 100-500 Lexile range; 2-3: 450-790 Lexile range; 4-5: 770-980 Lexile range; 6-8: 955-1155 Lexile range; 9-10: 1080-1305 Lexile Range and grade 11-12: 1215-1355 Lexile range. To find the Lexile measure for a specific book, you can use the “Look up a Book” feature on the Lexile website. You can also find lists of books that are considered good matches for students in your grade level here too. For shorter text passages up to 1000 words in length, you can also use the free tool called the Professional Lexile Analyzer. When you cut and paste your text into the Analyzer window, the program will return the Lexile value for this text passage. This is just the first element that will need to be considered when matching text to the readers in your class. I will be discussing the other three measures in upcoming posts so be sure to check back frequently for more information on this topic.