Knowledge Matters Podcast

Girl holds up a finger in a classroom.
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Season 2: Coming Summer 2024!

Find out when the season comes out by signing up for our email list.

Season 1: Reading Comprehension Revisited

Natalie Wexler, education journalist and author of “The Knowledge Gap,” hosts the inaugural series of our new podcast, Reading Comprehension Revisited.

In six short (~30-minute) episodes, Natalie tackles crucial questions such as, why do students from low-income backgrounds typically score lower on reading tests? Why do improvements in the early grades fade out as students advance to higher levels? And most significantly, why haven’t substantial investments in education reform delivered expected results?

The answer lies in a longstanding misunderstanding about reading comprehension itself, and how students learn to make meaning from texts. Over six episodes, you’ll learn what research tells us about how children really learn to read, and you’ll hear from educators from around the country as they share their experiences of embedding knowledge-building into their literacy instruction, and the powerful effects this change has had on their students.

Episode 1: “Kids were bored to death”

June 28, 2023 – Despite substantial investments in education reform, the US remains in the grip of a decades-long reading crisis. But why? With the help of teachers and researchers, host Natalie Wexler introduces the urgent need to revisit our approach to reading comprehension.

Episode 2: “A simple way of looking at a complex problem”

June 28, 2023 – Thanks to tireless efforts by researchers, advocates, and educators, the importance of systematically teaching decoding is finally being recognized. But, as you’ll hear, there’s far more to reading than decoding, and more we need to do to help our kids become truly literate.

Episode 3: “That cloud looks like an anvil”

July 5, 2023 – Abby Boruff, Deloris Fowler, and Kyair Butts teach different ages and subjects, in different parts of the country. When their schools adopted knowledge-building curricula they were skeptical, but the dramatic results they saw in their classrooms helped change their minds.

Episode 4: “Now they had something to write about”

July 12, 2023 – It’s hard to read about a topic you don’t have knowledge about, but it’s virtually impossible to write about it. By having students write about content they’re learning about, knowledge-building curricula boost both writing ability and learning in general.

Episode 5: “Everything was in silos”

July 19, 2023 – To become fully literate, many students need a curriculum that builds knowledge in a logical, coherent way across grade levels, and only a leader can put that kind of system in place. Meet Brent Conway and Dr. LaTonya Goffney, two leaders who did exactly that.

Episode 6: “Think what a better society we’ll have”

July 26, 2023 – American education has a number of serious problems – and our failure to start building kids’ knowledge early is a fundamental one. But there are ways to ensure that the growing trend toward knowledge-building curriculum takes root and spreads.

Companion study guide

In response to popular demand, podcast host Natalie Wexler developed a study guide for educators who wish to use the podcast as a catalyst for discussions and collaborative learning about the important role that content knowledge plays in literacy.

For additional professional learning, join the conversation in our Facebook group.


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