Testimonials

Robb, Laura. Differentiating Reading Instruction: How to Teach Reading to Meet the Needs of Each Student. Scholastic, 2008, 303 pp. ISBN 978-0-545-02298-9.

Part of the Theory and Practice series of the professional development texts published by Scholastic, Differentiating Reading Instruction by Laura Robb is an accessible read that will motivate and inspire you to t weak your teaching practices, meeting the literacy needs of all students in your classroom. According to Robb, the key principles in differentiating instruction include ongoing, formative assessment; recognition of diverse learners; group work; problem solving; and choice. In Chapter One, Robb states that making accommodations in a differentiated classroom is more than reading aloud or playing an audio recording of a novel every day.
After examining routine instruction and assessment in middle grade classrooms, Robb highlights the following ten practices to differentiating reading instruction:

  1. Make your read-alouds a common teaching texts.
  2. Teach with diverse materials.
  3. Organize for instruction so you meet all reading levels.
  4. Value independent practice reading.
  5. Tier your assignments.
  6. Show students how to construct meaning while reading.
  7. Encourage discussion.
  8. Write to explore, think. Learn, and improve comprehension.
  9. Use ongoing assessments to support each student.
  10. Plan your units carefully.

She returns to these practices throughout her text as she reinforces their importance and illustrates how they materialize in middle grade language arts classrooms. The examples and vignettes help us visualize how to improve our reading instruction, engaging, motivating, and challenging our students.

Her writing voice is down-to-earth, sincere, and wise. She is a comfort and challenges us to rethink our instructional routines and methods. Through her clear, descriptive classroom snippets, she scaffolds us to a new level, considering the possibilities for engaged student learning. Robb’s clear presentation of these ideas and techniques make them seem attainable and easy to implement. Each chapter ends with a “Pause and Reflect” section, complete with questions to ponder as you examine your own classroom practices. The techniques, examples, ad checklists throughout each chapter (not to mention the helpful hints in the 21 appendices) are worth the price of the text alone! I also enjoyed the appealing poetry and interesting short stories she selected for students to read while learning higher-level thinking strategies. I am familiar with Robb’s other books and know that they have been well-received by teachers, but she has outdone herself this time. If you liked Teaching Reading in Middle School and Teaching Reading in Social Studies, Science, and Math, you will love her newest text, Differentiating Reading Instruction. (This won’t come as a surprise to you, but I am trying to figure out a way to squeeze this book into required reading for one of my courses or, at the very least, a book club read for a group of middle school teachers!) This is an excellent read.


Illinois Reading Council Journal Vol. 36, No. 2

Robb’s Second edition of Teaching Reading in Middle School has more than 85 percent new information.
Read this review by Carol Fuhler, author of LITERATURE IS BACK! and assistant professor of literacy at Iowa State University.

Robb, Laura. Teaching Reading in Middle School (2nd Edition): A Strategic Approach to Teaching Reading That Improves Comprehension and Thinking
Scholastic, 2010, 336 p. ISBN 978-0545173551.

Within moments of opening Teaching Reading in Middle School, you will recognize that Laura Robb knows adolescent learners. Her thorough understanding has been built upon a wealth of classroom experiences. It has been deepened over time through ongoing one-on-one contact using interest and reading surveys along with focused individual conferences. Thus, the first lesson offered by this wise educator is that we cannot teach our students successfully if we do not know them as readers and learners. Next, Laura reminds us that each learner is as unique as his set of fingerprints, knowledge that ought to change our approach to teaching reading. A consummate teacher, Laura demonstrates exactly how to do that by differentiating the reading curriculum.

In an encouraging and upbeat tone, Laura explains the benefits of differentiation and shows how it might look in various classroom time frames. In addition, she provides a foundation of nine research-based strategies to fuel our lessons. Then she guides us through the possibilities of Reading Workshop, modeling such things as how to,

  • motivate readers, even the most reluctant
  • facilitate Reader’s choice
  • teach essential strategies
  • assess individual learners
  • hold students accountable
  • organize conferences
  • employ responsive, flexible grouping
  • journal productively
  • build on adolescents’ inherent ability to chat by channeling conversation into activities like book discussions, pair shares, and/or Reader’s Theater

You will coached each step of the way, reinforced by fine materials including time-saving charts that review key points from discussions, explanatory samples of student work, focused vocabulary lessons, and exceptional resources for professional growth. Add to that a CD filled with practical teacher-tested student forms and assessments to keep you on track and save hours of preparation time. Supported by Laura’s confidence-boosting modeling, don’t be surprised to hear yourself saying, “I understand this, and better yet, I can do this!” Whether you proceed in small increments or in several large sweeps, you are destined to bolster both reading attitudes and abilities in your classroom. Whether they are adept or are struggling, your students will be savoring the satisfaction and joys wrapped up in books.

Teaching Reading in Middle School is THE essential guide to adolescent reading success. Keep it at the tips of your fingers throughout the year. It’s is the next best thing to having Laura right beside you as you revitalize your teaching and challenge your learners to become competent independent readers and thinkers.

Dr. Carol J. Fuhler
Associate Professor, Literacy


Robb, Laura. Differentiating Reading Instruction: How to Teach Reading to Meet the Needs of Each Student.
Scholastic, 2008, 303 p. ISBN 978-0-545-02298-9.

Part of the Theory and Practice series of professional development tests published by Scholastic, Differentiating Reading Instruction by Laura Robb is an accessible read that will motivate and inspire you to tweak your teaching practices, meeting the literacy needs of all students in your classroom.

According to Robb, the key principles in differentiating instruction include ongoing, formative assessment; recognition of diverse learners; group work; problem solving; and choice. In Chapter One, Robb states that making accommodations in a differentiated classroom is more than reading aloud or playing an audio recording of a novel every day.

After examining routine instruction and assessment in middle grade classrooms, Robb highlights the following ten practices to differentiating reading instruction:

  1. Make your read-alouds a common teaching text.
  2. Teach with diverse materials.
  3. Organize for instruction so you meet all reading levels.
  4. Value independent practice reading.
  5. Tier your assignments.
  6. Show students how to construct meaning while reading.
  7. Encourage discussion.
  8. Write to explore, think, learn, and improve comprehension.
  9. Use ongoing assessments to support each student.
  10. Plan your units carefully.

She returns to these practices throughout her text as she reinforces their importance and illustrates how they materialize in middle grade language arts classrooms. The examples and vignettes help us visualize how to improve our reading instruction, engaging, motivating, and challenging our students.

Her writing voice I down-to-earth, sincere, and wise. She is a comfort and challenges us to rethink our instructional routines and methods. Through her clear, descriptive classroom snippets, she scaffolds us to a new level, considering the possibilities for engages student learning. Robb’s clear presentation of these ideas and techniques make them seem attainable and easy to implement.

Each chapter ends with a “Pause and Reflect” section, complete with questions to ponder as you examine your own classroom practices. The techniques, examples, and checklists throughout each chapter (not to mention the helpful hints in the 21 appendices) are worth the price of the text alone! I also enjoyed the appealing poetry and interesting short stories she selected for students to read while learning higher-level thinking strategies.

I am familiar with Robb’s other books and know that they have been well-received by teachers, but she has outdone herself this time. If you liked Teaching Reading in Middle School and Teaching Reading in Social Studies, Science, and Math, you will love her newest text, Differentiating Reading Instruction. (This won’t come as a surprise to you, but I am trying to figure out a way to squeeze this book into required reading for one of my courses or, at the very least, a book club read for a group of middle school teachers!) This is an excellent read.

My school has had the opportunity to work with Laura Robb several times per year for the last several years. Laura has helped my teachers to grow in their learning about adolescent literacy instruction and to see the teaching of reading and writing in new ways. Laura has truly made the difference for us in moving from an English staff of twelve individual teachers using diverse methods to an entire middle school faculty committed to literacy development and focused on appropriate strategies.

Laura Robb’s materials and resources are practical and right on target for middle school students. Using Laura’s strategy approach helped us to make a 22 point gain in our school literacy scores last year and our students to view themselves as readers and writers. Using her extensive experience in actual classroom teaching and her insightful knowledge of how students learn, Laura has helped us to transform a school culture!

She is an outstanding teacher and mentor and I highly recommend her materials.

Sincerely,

Dori B. Walk
Principal
Shelburne Middle School
Staunton, Virginia


I have known Laura Robb for many years both personally and professionally. She facilitated professional development in my junior high school in Warrenton, Virginia for several years and earned the respect of teachers and students.

In addition to being a classroom teacher for forty-three years, Robb brings a wealth of coaching and teacher training experience to her work in adolescent literacy. Always positive and upbeat, Robb listens carefully to the needs of each teacher she works with to achieve the goal of supporting every learner and closing the achievement gap with differentiated instruction and scaffolds that work.

Her ideas are practical, doable, and she has a knack of making administrators, teachers, and students believe in themselves, their vision, and that academic improvement is always reachable.

Andrew Keller
Principal
Warren County Junior High School
Front Royal, Virginia


I am thrilled with the lessons, tips and techniques in this binder. My students, inspired by my enthusiasm and the chance to read even more in class, have jumped on board and are engaged in becoming better readers.

I find the binder very easy to use because of the way in which it is laid out, and due to the conversation way in which it is written. I have had the binder about a week and it is already covered in post-it notes that contain my notes and ideas.

This resource has become my new reading “bible” and I am anxious to continue putting it to use in my classroom.

Sara Lee
6th grade Language Arts
Woodland Park Middle School
Denver, Colorado


When I met Laura Robb four years ago I was impressed by her genuine student-centered attitude and the magnitude of her knowledge base. I knew that her research and writings would provide the foundation for the K-12 strategic reading initiative in my district.

Laura has been both a mentor and inspiration to my team in the design and implementation of a well-grounded literacy plan and ongoing professional development. Countless educators have read and reflected upon Laura’s professional texts, such as Teaching Reading in Middle School, Teaching Reading in Social Studies, Science, and Math, and Nonfiction Writing From the Inside Out, and filled their Teachers as Learners Journals with introspective thoughts about sound teaching practices found in the pages of her works.

As we continue on our journey, we credit Laura for her wisdom and guidance in fostering positive changes in teaching that have resulted in measurable improvement in student achievement in language arts. She is truly an outstanding educator in the field of literacy who breathes life into the teaching of reading and writing.

Carol Varsalona
Director of Language Arts and Testing
West Babylon UFSD
West Babylon, NY


Laura Robb came to our county to work with middle school teachers. The teachers came to watch Laura in action with Teaching Reading in Middle School under their arms. The well-worn books they carried in had post-it notes sticking out everywhere.

Laura gave all the teachers in the room a new approach to looking at their teaching and how it affects student learning. Teachers went away feeling empowered to improve the reading comprehension of their students. Laura is truly a master teacher with a passion for teaching that is contagious.

Wanda Killips
Achievement Initiatives, Literacy Coordinator
Washtenaw Intermediate School District
Ann Arbor, Michigan


I just wanted to thank you (again)! We took our reading SOL test yesterday; our scores were much improved. I must be honest I was a bit nervous because I didn’t “teach the test.” Instead, I taught the skills using your notebook. Each student also read for 20 minutes EVERY day – NO EXCEPTIONS!

While I am excited about the students’ success, I am more excited that these kids have improved their reading abilities. The test is just a number, but those skills will benefit them forever.

Again, thank you so much for the time and effort you dedicated to the notebook. I appreciate that you’ve shared your knowledge to help our kids become more successful.

Heather Durham
English Teacher
Lee High School
Staunton, Virginia


Laura Robb’s work with the literacy coaches in the Newark Public Schools has led to significant changes in practice in our classrooms. She realizes that literacy learning takes place in the classrooms of real teachers with real kids, and her professional texts resonate with the most effective strategies for teaching reading in the middle grades.

Laura Robb’s numerous literacy texts have become the core of the professional libraries in our schools, and we intend to use Teaching Reading: A Complete Resource for Grades 4 and Up as the basis for our staff development efforts in the coming year.

Theresa Mikajlo
Director of Literacy
Newark Public Schools
Newark, NJ


I met Laura Robb over fifteen years ago when she was presenting at a state Reading Association conference. As a reading specialist, I immediately noted Laura’s expertise in the area of reading and writing; as an administrator in charge of staff development I recognized a gifted communicator whose words resonated with teachers throughout the room.

Laura is a “teacher’s consultant,” sharing real experiences—including trials that confront teachers every day. She demonstrates authentic strategies that she has used directly with students in classroom settings almost daily throughout her years of consulting. Laura knows what works with struggling readers and writers because of her commitment to “always remain a teacher.”

Laura Robb has been an inspiration to educators in our schools, K-12. If a teacher suggests, “That approach won’t work with my students!” Laura goes into that teacher’s classroom and models the strategies and techniques she’s recommending. Her success at proving her point through modeling has converted even the most recalcitrant teacher.

Sarah Armstrong
Assistant Superintendent of Instruction
Staunton City School
Staunton, Virginia