A veteran teacher of nine years, Ms. Evans has seen the climate around literacy instruction -- and her own instruction -- change over time. Trained in the "whole-language era," Ms. Evans has felt "a push toward standards-based instruction" in California. Ms. Evans now takes the "best from all different approaches," integrating parts of a literature-based and phonics-based approach in her classroom. She explicitly teaches phonics -- "[students] need the pieces of the puzzle if they are going to put the puzzle together," she says -- and yet she is committed to reading good literature in her classroom, and to fostering a love of reading in her students.
Ms. Evans plans her phonics instruction based on ongoing assessments of students' reading and writing skills. She uses assessment tools from the California Reading and Literature Project, a project led by researcher Marilyn Jaeger Adams and involving thousands of teachers throughout California. A participant of the project for five years, Ms. Evans now directs weeklong summer training institutes.