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Do your Read Naturally students conduct their cold timings independently? Teachers have different opinions on whether or not they should. Some teachers believe that, in order to get the most accurate data, a teacher should be present during the cold-timing step. Other teachers believe that students should do this step independently in order to practice self-correcting errors. While both points of view are valid, here is Read Naturally's views on cold timings:

I think most parents and teachers would agree that bribery isn’t always a bad thing. Nobody wants to resort to it, of course, but having an emergency pack of lifesavers to dole out to the kids when the going gets tough is sometimes, well, life saving. The problem with bribery is that it can work well in the short term, but it’s often not the best path to long-term growth.

Flip on the 2016 Summer Olympics, and you’ll quickly see that today’s athletes are the best of all time. Records are being shattered left and right. The best sprint times of Jesse Owens, once considered the fastest runner in the world, wouldn’t even earn him a medal today. And if you really want to be blown away, compare the Olympic women gymnasts of 1936 to the “Final Five” who captured the gold in Rio. To say there’s no comparison would be an understatement.

In elementary school, I remember participating in a reading incentive program with a simple premise: The more books I read, the more points I’d receive toward a reward. Because of the reward, my classmates and I were highly motivated to spend our free time reading. What’s not to love about a program like that?

There was just one problem. I could read a long, challenging chapter book slightly above my reading level in the same amount of time it took my classmate to read a dozen quick, easy books below his reading level. Who earned more points? My classmate. What did I learn? Quantity beats quality. Don’t challenge yourself.

The program had a fantastic mission, but there was an unintended consequence for me and many other students. Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens often in schools. The only way to avoid it is for teachers to take the time to scrutinize the practices and programs they put to use in their classrooms. Are we doing things out of habit or because others are doing them? Or are we doing things because they truly promote learning? A good educator is one who observes and adjusts—constantly and relentlessly.

When you were a kid, what were your favorite chapter books? I couldn't get enough of the Anne of Green Gables series (the heroine had me hooked from the first pages, when she insisted on the "e" at the end of her name). My seven-year-old currently laughs out loud (and stays up way past bedtime) reading Judy Blume's Fudge books. We loved the B.F.G. so much we're hoping to see the movie later this summer. And who doesn't love the Magic Treehouse series? Everywhere I turn, I seem to meet another Jack and Annie fan.

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