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Yet general abilities such as working memory capacity do not seem related to reading comprehension. Reading comprehension is a complex task that benefits from being taught using active learning strategies. By taking into account the development of reading, this review provides insights into why phonics work and what other processes beyond phonics are needed to become a fluent reader and achieve reading comprehension.


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This comprehensive review gives practitioners the tools to make informed decisions about how to translate the psychological science of reading into classroom practices. Louis, discusses the importance of phonics for reading instruction. In addition, she suggests ways to improve phonics instruction. Use Of Questions: Summary- Ask tactful questions to arouse and maintain interest, to reason with your students and to emphasis important point. How to do it? Ask rhetorical questions that stimulate a mental response or curiosity. Help your students to follow the logic of an argument by posing a series of questions that lead to a reasonable conclusion.

Emphasis important point. Ask an intriguing question to introduce a key thought.

Review of Mike Lloyd-Jone’s book ‘Phonics and the Resistance to Reading’

Use review questions after discussing an important point or when concluding your subject. For many teachers, the science of reading training was overwhelming at first. Neither had Michelle Bosak, an English as a second language teacher at Lincoln. The teachers had no idea how kids actually learned to read.

After learning about the reading science, these teachers were full of regret. The Bethlehem schools now use a curriculum in the early elementary grades that mixes teacher-directed whole-class phonics lessons with small-group activities to meet the needs of children at different points in the process of learning to read. At first, some of the teachers recoiled a bit at the scripted nature of the lessons; the curriculum is explicit and systematic, with every teacher on the same page each day.

Now, because of the science of reading training, she knows better. At the end of each school year, the Bethlehem school district gives kindergartners a test to assess early reading skills. In , before the science of reading training began, more than half of the kindergartners in the district tested below the benchmark score, meaning most of them were heading into first grade at risk of reading failure.

At the end of the school year, after the principals and kindergarten teachers were trained in the reading science, 84 percent of kindergarteners met or exceeded the benchmark score. At three schools, it was percent.

Learning to read

Silva is thrilled with the results, but cautious. Some of the schools in the district moved from half-day to full-day kindergarten the same year the training began, so that could have been a factor. You can find schools and school districts across the United States that are trying to change reading instruction the way Bethlehem has, but according to Moats, ill-informed, ineffective reading instruction is the norm.

Education as a practice has placed a much higher value on observation and hands-on experience than on scientific evidence, Seidenberg said. Back in the early s, after the panel convened by Congress released its report, Butler and her colleagues wanted to know: Were teacher preparation programs in Mississippi instructing teachers to teach reading in ways backed up by the science?

The institute reviewed syllabi and textbooks, surveyed the students in the classes, observed some of the classes, and interviewed the deans and faculty.

The study found that teacher candidates in Mississippi were getting an average of 20 minutes of instruction in phonics over their entire two-year teacher preparation program. Kelly Butler was alarmed. She and her colleagues went to state education officials and pleaded with them to take action.

In , in a rather extraordinary move, the state Department of Education mandated that every teacher preparation program in Mississippi require two courses in early literacy to cover what was in the National Reading Panel report. It was extraordinary because even though states have the authority to regulate teacher preparation programs, only a handful of states have specific requirements about what prospective teachers learn about reading. Related: As Mississippi delivers bad news to 5, third graders, stressed-out parents say there must be a better way.

And the whole language ones are not here because I think they would really resist, a lot. Angela Rutherford, who works with Butler and is a professor in the school of education at the University of Mississippi, put it more bluntly. She said many of them have long believed in whole language. Butler says the resistance to the science among college faculty and administrators baffles her, but it runs deep.

It was not clear how much impact the state mandate to teach reading science was having. At this point, no one really knew what prospective teachers were learning in those early literacy classes required by the state. This time they looked at private colleges in Mississippi, too.

They examined the early literacy courses at 15 teacher prep programs. Teachers in the K education system are used to professional development. College professors are not. No one was going to require college instructors to do the training, but state legislators had passed a measure to encourage it. Since , teacher candidates in Mississippi have been required to pass a test on reading science. Speaking is natural, reading and writing are not. She said that she struggled with reading when she was a child. Trashonda Dixon, a literacy instructor at Tougaloo, says she did get phonics instruction when she was young, but she never learned how to teach phonics.

The Mississippi faculty came together for training several times over the course of a year, and some even received mentoring as they were teaching reading science to their college students. Moats said she once did some LETRS workshops for college faculty in Colorado many years ago and one of her colleagues did abbreviated training for faculty in Maryland, but Mississippi is the only place she knows of where college faculty are going through an extended course.

Reeves said she knows this from her own experience. In the early s, before she started her Ph. She said the books were boring and repetitive. She ditched the phonics workbooks and the decodable readers.

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What does that child need? I feel they came out the other side much better. One of the central tenets of whole language is that teachers are best able to judge whether their students are learning, not standardized tests. Another key idea is that all children learn to read differently and need to be taught in different ways. Our brains are much more similar than they are different, and all children need to learn basically the same things to change their nonreading brains into reading brains. They have an especially hard time understanding the relationship between sounds and letters.

Mary Ariail, former chair of the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education at the University of Southern Mississippi, remains opposed to explicit phonics instruction. Despite research to the contrary, Ariail and Reeves said they believe learning to read is a natural process. Ariail left her job and returned to her home state of Georgia at the end of the academic year, in part because of her frustration with the effort to change reading instruction in Mississippi.

He said no one is advocating for rote and boring lessons. But the science shows clearly that when reading instruction is organized around a defined progression of concepts about how speech is represented by print, kids become better readers. There is also widespread support in the research for the effectiveness of teacher-directed lessons as opposed to letting children discover key concepts about reading on their own. Children can learn to decode words without knowing what the words mean. The whole language proponents are right about that. Some children learn decoding quickly with minimal instruction.

Others need a lot more help. But good phonics instruction is beneficial for all kids, even those who learn to decode easily; research shows they become better spellers. There is no debate at this point among scientists that reading is a skill that needs to be explicitly taught by showing children the ways that sounds and letters correspond. According to all the research, what you should see in every school is a heavy emphasis on explicit phonics instruction in the early grades.

There is no evidence this turns kids off to reading or makes reading harder. If you do a good job teaching phonics in the early grades, kids get off to a quicker start. American prisons are full of people who grew up in poor families, and according to a study of the Texas prison population, nearly half of all inmates have dyslexia. They struggled to read as kids and probably never got the help they needed. For Butler, the main problem at this point is ignorance.

Seidenberg is less optimistic. He makes a comparison to climate change research.

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The advantages of SSP stretch further than mere reading. Taught well, spelling is also given strong foundations with this approach. Neither whole word nor whole language methods are particularly helpful with spelling. SSP has been shown, time and time again, to be the cheapest, most effective way of building strong foundations for literacy acquisition in the largest and most diverse populations. It is widely acknowledged to be a necessary, but not sufficient ingredient in teaching reading.

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Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber. This is an uncomfortable analogy. I am a trained phonics teacher and also a teacher who loves to teach a love of reading and books. I know that phonics work and that you can teach a child to read by careful and structured phonics teaching. Does an ability to decode, teach a love of reading? I just aim high. To return to the medical analogy.

And I speak as someone who tries to do this daily as main day job — 29 years a teacher mainly working with infants at the beginning of their reading journey. In a crowded timetable, even in the infants, I see reading for pleasure, sharing and talking about books, being squeezed out. This is the reality in teaching.