Brandi J. Clark

Writer and Educator

Who’s Johnny? This Might Be the Solution to All Reading Problems! Thanks El Debarge!

Please tell me you remember that song. It was from the movie Short Circuit. If not, you are in for a treat!

This video came to mind when I thought about reading only because it reminds me of this famous book, Why Johnny Can’t Read!


What I like about this title, “Why Johnny Can’t Read” is that it focuses on the reader first (Johnny) then the reading process, second.

I believe we need to identify the NOUN – the reader before matching the VERB – reading strategies/instruction.

My first project for the Lead Literacy Society is to come up with the “types” of readers that we see in our classrooms.

Is it possible that if we develop starter profiles for the variety of types of readers, we can then decide on what these readers need?


What I see happening right now is this…one solution fits all.  As seen here…imagine the “wrenches” as one approach.



Right now our one approach, in addition to general classroom reading instruction is Leveled Literacy Intervention. But as I wrote in this article, I don’t think it works for everyone. It can’t,  it is but one approach. It is a really decent approach but it needs to be matched with the right readers.

For this conversation, I would like to hear about the different types of struggling readers that you encounter.

(Note in future posts we will discuss the other readers who are reading at level and beyond. They have their own profiles too and they also need specific strategies.)

Here are some of the categories of struggling readers I have discovered.

  1. Students with Learning Disabilities such as Dyslexia. These students can appear to work to classroom expectations in most other subject areas but struggle with reading. They have average to above average intellectual ability.
  2. Students with Intellectual Disabilities. These students struggle with most other subjects. At times, they seem to present difficulties with memory, remembering sight words, comprehension and decoding.
  3. Students who have low exposure to literacy activities at home. These students could be at the targeted reading level but they have not had follow up support at home.
  4. Students who are inconsistent with their attendance. These students could be at the targeted reading level but have gaps in their learning due to lack of attendance.
  5. Students who are English Language Learners.  Some ELL’s can be expert decoders but lack comprehension.
  6. Students with Autism. These students struggle to relay their comprehension due to communication deficits.

Some students can be in several of these categories too. For example a student who is ELL with attendance issues.

This post addresses…

Step One: Identify categories of struggling readers.

In future posts we will discuss…

Step Two: Create “starter” reader profiles with the established categories

Step Three: Use classroom teaching experiences and research to come up with strategies for each category.

Step Four: Test these ideas out in our classrooms

Step Five: Come up with A Guide to Supporting Our Struggling Readers: Practical Solutions and Advice from the Lead Literacy Society

So PLEASE comment below or own our Facebook page.  I want to hear from you.

Do you have new categories?

Feedback please!

Until Next Time,

Coach Clark

Help! I Have to Teach Language Arts: A Language Arts Survival Mini-Course Part 3


You might need to Ketch-up!

Ketch up


You can find the previous lessons here – Lesson 1 and Lesson 2

By the way, thanks for hanging in there. I appreciate that you are taking the time to strengthen your skills as a teacher. Your students will appreciate that.

Knowing all this information is the difference between using a template and understanding the coding of a template.

I promise as you stay with this course you will understand how to connect all the smorgasbord of opportunities to take Language Arts to the max. I want you to be able to understand how to make your own Language Arts plans with the confidence to include web tools, Makerspace and Project-Based Learning.

So let’s keep going.

Today’s Lesson: Developing an Understanding of the Five General Outcomes

When I was able to dive deep and explore the contents of the five general outcomes, it opened up my world.

Among other things,  it makes it so much easier to link the content areas to language arts when the connections are made obvious.

Even though the general outcomes are listed separately they are in fact approached in the classroom as integrated with each other and the six language arts.

Here is a direct quote from the program of studies.

“The general outcomes are interrelated and interdependent; each is to be achieved through a variety of listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing and representing experiences.”

Nothing in language arts is really on its own and this is important to understand.

In my experience the isolation of skills and processes leads to learning out of context and without the possibility of transfer.

So here we go…

Outcome 1: Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to explore thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences

Outcome 1

As mentioned in a prior post, outcome one  is all about students unpacking ideas, feelings and experiences whether this happens at the beginning, middle or end of a unit or lesson. In this outcome you can connect these processes: brainstorming, webbing, mind mapping, KWL charts, think-pair-share, anticipation guides, graffiti walls, place-mat activity, four corners, free writing, and quick writes.

Outcome 2: Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to comprehend and respond personally and critically to oral, print and other media texts

Outcome 2 1

In the first section of Outcome 2 are your READING outcomes.  This is where you will find the support for phonics and comprehension strategy instruction. This is also your READER RESPONSE outcome. This outcome also suggests that reading a variety of texts is important as is examining them for AUTHOR’S PURPOSE. If you ever wondered where CLOSE READING fits, it fits here in outcome 2.


Outcome 2 2

The second section of Outcome 2 are your WRITING outcomes. Students will be using the variety of forms and genres encountered during reading instruction to create their own text. They will be experimenting with WORD CHOICE and collecting ideas to write about. If you have wondered where the WRITER’S NOTEBOOK fits, this is the general outcome to connect it to. Also there are connections to STORY WRITING  and CLOSE WRITING.

This outcome is “meaty” and requires a lot of attention in the language arts classroom.

Outcome 3: Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to manage ideas and information

Outcome 3 1


Outcome 3 2

This outcome is your NONFICTION outcome. It can and should be connected to the other CONTENT AREAS. If you wondered where PBL fits in language arts, it is here.

This is also your RESEARCH outcome.

Outcome 4: Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to enhance the clarity and artistry of communication

Outcome 4 1

In this half of outcome four we find SPELLING, WORD PLAY, EDITING, REVISION, CAPITALIZATION, PUNCTUATION and PRINTING/HANDWRITING.  This is the outcome focused on clarity and being precise.

Outcome 4 2

This half of outcome four is about PRESENTING to an audience and being an AUDIENCE member. If you wondered where AUTHOR’S CHAIR fits, it fits here.

Here is a direct quote from the program of studies.

“As students use English language arts in a variety of contexts with instruction, encouragement and support, they revise and edit to clarify meaning, achieve purposes and affect audiences.  In doing so, they apply the conventions of grammar, language usage, spelling, punctuation and capitalization.”

Think of outcome four as the Fix-em Up  and Presenting outcome.

Outcome 5: Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to respect, support and collaborate with others.

Outcome 5

This is your GROUP WORK and CELEBRATING outcome. This is where students can be taught skills to work in partnerships and larger groups. Similar to the other outcomes, this one fits well with the other content areas. Social Studies is another subject area that has outcomes directed at working in groups. I would suggest comparing and combining the L.A. and Social Studies outcomes.

Here are some direct quotes from the program of studies.

“Language is necessary for working together. Students learn collaboration skills by discussing in groups, by building on the ideas of others, and by planning and working together to meet common goals and strengthen community.  In every classroom, students develop a sense of community.  They learn to use language to offer assistance and to participate in and enrich their classroom community.  In this way, students share perspectives and ideas, develop understanding and respect diversity.”

“Students learn that language is important for celebrating events of personal, social, community and national significance.  In their language learning and use, they develop their knowledge of language forms and functions.  As well, they come to know how language preserves and enriches culture.  To celebrate their own use of language, students display their work, share with others, and delight both in their own and others’ use of the language arts.”

Think of this outcome as the group work and celebration of work outcome.

This marks the end of today’s lesson.

I know.

You want me to keep going.

But I want you to digest today’s learning.

Know the Five General Outcomes.

Think about the resources you have access to and how they might match up to the five general outcomes.

Trust me…everything else makes sense if you understand these five general outcomes.

Until Next Time,

Coach Brandi!

Next Lesson:  Understanding “Text” in the English Language Arts program of studies (K-9)

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