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Learning by Reading, Learning by Talking

For the past few weeks, I’ve focused on ways to help kids’ reading and writing soar while school is out. But children aren’t the only ones who keep learning over the summer; all our school team members learn, too.

This summer, all Success Academy leaders attended a three-week summit to prepare for the year ahead. (Teachers also attend several busy, exciting weeks of training that we call T School – Teacher School.)

We believe that kids learn best by doing – learn by reading, learn by talking. And they get the most out of these immersive experiences when,the work is rigorous, and teachers guide and support scholars as they move toward mastery.

So if we are committed to our scholars learning by doing, we need to learn by doing, too! To this end, my colleagues and I facilitated a special Drop Everything and Read experience for some of our instructional leaders. Our principals, leadership residents, and deans silently read children’s books from their schools’ classroom libraries and then introduced their books to the people sitting next to them. They shared something they learned, whether they would or would not recommend the book, and why. In this way, leaders experienced what our scholars experience when they read at school every day.

Afterward, leaders were asked to reflect on the experience and think about the implications for their schools and their practice. Though they were talking about independent reading, you’ll see that what they noticed applies to many aspects of schooling:

  • Choice is important. Readers are more motivated to read when they choose their own books — and they choose books for many different reasons.
  • Readers learn by reading. Especially as kids get older, they can learn a tremendous amount by reading and researching on their own.
  • Readers can make connections among the books they’ve read or between books they’ve read and other learning experiences—compounding their knowledge.
  • Discussing reading can help readers further synthesize their thoughts. Kids attain a deeper understanding through conversation with peers.
  • Readers can also gain a different perspective, and even change their minds, by discussing what they’ve read with others.
  • Readers can inspire one another to read by introducing each other to great books. Reading the same books is a shared experience that helps kids develop relationships with teachers and with their peers.


Success Academy was founded with a passionate commitment to reading and a belief that kids, not adults, should be doing the talking. This school year, our kids will have multiple opportunities to learn by reading, learn by talking, and learn by doing.


Written by Sara Yu July 29, 2015

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