An alternate explanation as to why reading achievement isn’t where we want it to be.

An alternate explanation as to why reading achievement isn’t where we want it to be

by Dr. Sam Bommarito

The following is from one of my handouts for the LitCon 2022 conference. It asserts that some SOR advocates claims that balanced literacy has failed are ill-founded. They fail to follow the basics of scientific study- that any conclusions about balanced literacy/constructivist practices need to be drawn using a proper sample of districts using those practices with fidelity. More details will follow at my LitCon presentation.

On the one hand, everyone agrees that the current state of reading instruction is not acceptable. SOR advocates claim Balanced Literacy is the root cause of the problems in reading. They view Balanced Literacy as lacking instruction in phonics and the use of orthographic information. Let’s use the two diagrams above to understand why their conclusions are ill-founded and incorrect.

 Diagram one shows “the rocket.” The rocket represents districts actively employing the constellation of instructional practices known as the science of reading. I’ve placed several rockets diagram 2, which represent those districts using SOR with some success. The stars in that same district represent those districts using balanced reading with some success.

 Wait a minute, Dr. Sam. Are you saying there are places where Balanced Literacy (or similar constructivist-based practices) are working? I have blogged extensively on the point that such districts do exist. Today’s constructivist-based balanced literacy programs include phonics instruction and developing students’ ability to use orthographic information. In addition, the extensive data showing the efficacy of these programs relies on more than simply demonstrating improved decoding skills. It also includes demonstrating improved comprehension with direct measurements of comprehension. Too often, some SOR advocates’ exaggerated claims of success are rooted in data that only demonstrates improved decoding skills. Improved decoding skills do not automatically lead to improved comprehension. We’ve known that at least since the NPR report. More details will be provided during the presentation.

So what we have is a situation where some districts are using Balanced Literacy or SOR with some success. HOWEVER, there are many other districts whose programs are not successful. It could be these districts are not doing the programs with fidelity. It could be that they really don’t have coherent programs. The bottom line is that those districts are doing things that just aren’t working. That is the main source of the current literacy problem.

 Let’s look at this issue another way. I can safely say that despite the fact many districts have adopted SOR, things have still not improved satisfactorily. If I said things like that– SOR advocates would immediately say that to get a true picture of what is going on, I have to look at just those districts doing SOR with fidelity. I absolutely agree. HOWEVER, if I do that for SOR, I must also do that for all the districts carrying out some form of balanced literacy practices with fidelity. THOSE DISTRICTS ARE ALSO SUCCESSFUL. Currently, critics of Balanced Literacy are not doing that. Instead of drawing a scientific sample of districts using Balanced Literacy/Constructivists practices with fidelity and then talking about the efficacy of Balanced Reading, they instead include all districts everywhere when they talk about problems in literacy. While this makes for sensational public relations, it makes for very bad science. I think it’s time to call for the SOR folks to use scientific samples of districts using programs with fidelity when talking about the situation in today’s literacy world. Let’s have less PR and more science, please!!!   

Remember that I’m advocating for a centrist position that says we need to look at ALL sides and draw from all sides. My doctoral work, done during the last round of the reading wars, found that when looking at whole language-based teachers vs. phonics emphasis teachers, the two groups of teachers had more practices in common than those that set them apart. Instead of treating this as a winner take all dichotomy, we need all sides to examine all the research. We need to work to find common ground. We need to use common sense to do so.

Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the centrist who uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching

Copyright 2021 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

I’ll be a featured speaker at LitCon in January. LitCon has changed to a virtual format this year. I hope you can come to my session. You can also come for the session I’m doing in collaboration with Paul Thomas. Both have to do with the efficacy of Reading Recovery and the issues surrounding the teaching of beginning reading.

LINK TO LITCON

Link to the tweet about my LitCon Presentation. Once on Twitter, click on the picture to listen to the promotional video. The video takes less than one minute.

LINK

An interview of Jill Speering about her newest book-Rubies in the Rubble, An Educator’s Transformation from Pain to Prominence, From Abuse to Absolution, conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

An interview of Jill Speering about her newest book-Rubies in the Rubble, An Educator’s Transformation from Pain to Prominence, From Abuse to Absolution, conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

As an educator who has a long-standing interest in the best ways to teach beginning reading, I was very happy when I heard that Jill Speering had written her first book. Jill has many years of experience as a teacher and a teacher of teachers. Also, as you can see from her biography, Jill is a longtime advocate and supporter of Reading Recovery. She believes in creating programs that fit the child rather than forcing the children into one size fits all programs. Her book is an autobiography, and that autobiography goes well beyond the issues surrounding best ways to teach beginning reading. It is the story of her whole life, a story of how she overcomes adversity. Here is what one reviewer had to say about this wonderful book (taken from the back cover of the book):

I have to concur. Jill’s story does show hope and promise for us all. It is a story that provides a rigorous defense of Reading Recovery. Before it does that, it also provides us with her story, which gives the reader a roadmap of how to overcome adversity. As Jill points out, overcoming adversity is something that many of the students we serve also must do if they are ever to become readers and writers. Here is a screen capture of the book’s cover and a link to the book:

LINK

Here is a link to the interview:

LINK

Here are the questions we covered. They are timestamped.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. 01:19
  2. Why did you write this book? 02:35
  3. Talk to us as an author. Tell us how your background in learning about writing helped you as you wrote this book. 4:28
  4. Is the book more of a memoir or a biography? 09:33
  5. What do you feel is the most important takeaway for readers of this book? 15:06
  6. In just a few weeks, I will be presenting at LitCon, talking about why RR is a viable approach and why children deserve access to RR (that is a strong position my friend Paul Thomas has taken). Any thoughts about that? Do you agree with Paul and I on the need for children to have access to RR when needed? 15:06 (5 & 6 were covered jointly)

Clarification of things said in the interview:  After Reading Recovery was dismantled by then-Director of Schools Dr. Joseph, all five teacher leaders and administrators left the district or retired. The majority of trained RR teachers left the district! Many were recruited by surrounding districts. 

By the way, Jill will be the keynote speaker at the Delta Kappa Gamma Educational sorority on June 2, 2022, at the University of the South at Sewanee to discuss her book (LINK). As you can tell, the book is becoming quite popular, and I again encourage you to get your copy to find out why.

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG:

Next week I’ll be interviewing Molly Ness. She will be a keynote speaker at the Write to Learn Conference. I am doing a breakout session at that live conference, which is being held in Columbia, Missouri. Information about the conference can be found at the end of the blog. I am also in the process of lining up interviews of other major literacy figures.

I also want to remind you that I will be presenting a session at LitCon on the topic of why Reading Recovery is a viable approach to early reading instruction. Immediately after that session, Paul Thomas will join me for a summary of our respective LitCon presentations, followed by an extended Q & A session. Information about Lit Con can be found at the end of the blog entry. Remember that this year LitCon is a virtual event.

In the meantime- Happy Reading and Writing!

Copyright 2021 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

PS If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

I’ll be a featured speaker at LitCon in January. LitCon has changed to a virtual format this year. I hope you can come to my session. You can also come for the session I’m doing in collaboration with Paul Thomas. Both have to do with the efficacy of Reading Recovery and the issues surrounding the teaching of beginning reading.

Link to LitCon

I’m also presenting in March at the Write to Learn Conference in my home state of Missouri. My session at that Conference is “Helping All Readers (Especially Older Readers) Improve Both Their Decoding and Comprehension Skills.”

In this session, I will share highlights about what makes for effective instruction in decoding and comprehension. I will address what to do for older students who missed out on such effective instruction. Below you will find information about this in-person conference and a link to the conference.

Link to Write to learn

Happy New Year to all & a brief message about my upcoming speaking engagements: By Dr. Sam Bommarito

Happy New Year to all & a brief message about my upcoming  speaking engagements: By Dr. Sam Bommarito

I want to wish you all a very Happy Happy New Year. In the coming months, I will be doing more blog posts about my centrist position on the issue of how to teach reading. I’m also lining up interviews of authors of new professional books. The books will include a wide variety of topics and points of view.

For your information, I am starting the new year by speaking at two different literacy events. Here is some information about them:

I’ll be a featured speaker at LitCon in January. LitCon has changed to a virtual format this year. I hope you can come to my session. You can also come for the session I’m doing in collaboration with Paul Thomas. Both have to do with the efficacy of Reading Recovery and the issues surrounding the teaching of beginning reading.

Link to LitCon.

I’m also presenting in March at the Write to Learn Conference in my home state of Missouri. My session at that Conference is “Helping All Readers (Especially Older Readers) Improve Both Their Decoding and Comprehension Skills.”

In this session, I will share highlights about what makes for effective instruction in decoding and comprehension. I will address what to do for older students who missed out on such effective instruction. Below you will find information about this in-person conference and a link to the conference.

Link to Write to learn

Have a great New Year!

Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the centrist who uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching

Copyright 2021 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it. Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

Happy Holidays to all & a brief message about my upcoming  speaking engagements By Dr. Sam Bommarito

Happy Holidays to all & a brief message about my upcoming  speaking engagements By Dr. Sam Bommarito

I want to wish you all a very Happy Holiday season.  I also want to thank you all for taking the time to consider the centrist message from this blog. There have been over 50,000 views this year- a new record!

For your information, I’ll be speaking at two different literacy events. Here is some information about them:

I’ll be a featured speaker at LitCon in January. LitCon has been changed to a virtual format this year. I hope you can come to my session. You can also come for the session I’m doing in collaboration with Paul Thomas. Both have to do with the efficacy of Reading Recovery and the issues surrounding the teaching of beginning reading.

Link to LitCon.

I’m also presenting in March at the Write to Learn Conference in my home state of Missouri. My session at that Conference is “Helping All Readers (Especially Older Readers) Improve Both Their Decoding and Comprehension Skills.”

In this session, I will share highlights about what makes for effective instruction in decoding and comprehension. I will address what to do for older students who missed out on such effective instruction. Below you will find information about this in-person conference and a link to the conference.

Link to Write to learn

Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the centrist who uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching

Copyright 2021 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

An interview of Laura Robb and David L. Harrison, authors of Guided Practice for Reading Growth. Interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

An interview of Laura Robb and David L. Harrison, authors of Guided Practice for Reading Growth. Interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

I’ve known David and Laura for a very long time. Here are links to their bios LINK1, LINK2.  In writing the book Guided Practice for Reading Growth: Texts and Lessons to Improve Fluency, Comprehension and Vocabulary, they had a perfect collaboration. Laura’s years of working with teachers in classrooms and familiarity with the latest research on how middle school children learn, helped her create the kind of lessons teachers need to help their older readers. David’s ability as a writer and poet is unmatched anywhere. He has been the poet laureate for my state (Missouri). He has collaborated with our state’s professional reading journal, The Missouri Reader, to produce two different special issues around how to use poetry in the classroom LINK1, LINK2. That background makes him the perfect candidate to write poems around content area topics needed for this project. The project uses a method I’ve reported on extensively: repeated readings of short text to improve fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. The guru of that method is Tim Rasinski. A good resource for more information on implementing that method is Rasinski and Chesman’s The Megabook of Fluency LINK. My blogs around this topic included the work of Rasinski, LINK, Kraus and Kay LINK, and Litwin LINK.

What Laura and David’s series brings to the table is a ready-to-use, complete program, with lessons designed for students in grades 4-8. The lessons were modified during field testing. They work. Laura and David do an amazing job during the interview of explaining how and why the lessons were written as they are. The series provides short texts for each and every lesson. Most of the content area poems were written by David, especially for this series. The book also includes helpful videos to explain and support the implementation of the lessons.

While visiting sites where reading specialists gather to talk about their craft, I’ve often seen the question raised of what is an effective intervention to use to improve middle school students’ reading. Now I have at least one good answer to that question- Robb & Harrison’s Guided Practice for Reading Growth series. Let us see what Laura and Robb had to say about their book.

Here is a jpg of the book’s cover and a link to use in order to obtain the book, LINK:

Now let’s look at the interview:

INTRODUCTIONS 01:07

  1. What is guided practice? Where does it fit in the curriculum? 05:00
  2. Why did you write this book? 05:00
  • Why do you use the term developing readers? 12:00
  • Who needs guided practice? How did David select topics for poems and short texts? 12:00
  • Why poetry and short texts? 12:00
  • Why are you building background knowledge with videos? 13:50
  • Why do you have students write in notebooks and teachers model with their teacher’s notebook? 13:50
  • Is guided practice enough? What else do all students need? 24:00
  • Do teachers do this all year? How do they choose lessons? 024:00

A very special thanks to Laura and David for doing the interview! There is a lot to unpack.  Looking ahead, I’ll be taking a break for the holidays (Happy Holidays, Everyone!). I am already in the process of getting in contact with more authors. There are many more great books out there to report on. I’m also getting ready for LitCon. LitCon has been changed to virtual this year. I hope some of you can come to my session. You can also come for the session I’m doing in collaboration with Paul Thomas. Both have to do with the efficacy of Reading Recovery. Here is a link to register for the conference. LINK.  Here is a link to additional information about the conference LINK.  (please remember the conference has been changed to a virtual conference this year).

So, Happy Reading and Writing. I’ll end with the thought that using methods like those employed by Laura and David can make learning to read a JOYFUL experience. That is as it should be. I look forward to talking to you soon!

Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the centrist who uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching

Copyright 2021 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

PS If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

Extra Extra- Notes on Paul Thomas’s Presentation- Some Fact Checks around the Science of Reading

Taken from a friend’s notes about what Paul had to say on this subject:

Generalizations are very dangerous in education. Very few of us teach students and a danger of one area of “science” is that they don’t allow for outliers.

Just a few of the many references he recommended:

Paul Thomas: Fact-Checking The Science of Reading

https://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/…/fact…/

Policy Statement on The Science of Reading

https://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/fyi-reading-wars

Reading as comprehension and engagement: On the limitations of decoding

https://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/…/reading-as…/

Red Flags, Red Herrings and Common Ground: An Expert Study in Response to State Reading

https://newprairiepress.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2241&context=edconsiderations&fbclid=IwAR1CWXDhjBr-zdZkr6TCZY0fuSaiS8DlhWICMeKPpMgCUBtMY4PKmBLeS9E

Closing words: Silence is not an option

My blog interview of Paul- Includes links to his site (click on the box with the interview to go to the interview). Remember that both Paul and I will be presenting at LitCon. We each have our own session and we are also doing a joint session. Hope to see you there! Dr. Sam

Link to LitCon.

A new look at Brain Research Part Two- Additional information about the impact of music on reading fluency/prosody: A Video Interview by Dr. Sam Bommarito

A new look at Brain Research Part Two- Additional information about the impact of music on reading fluency/prosody: A Video Interview by Dr. Sam Bommarito

The Story Behind this Interview

For several years, I have used the ideas of Dr. Tim Rasinski as I work with my students in grades K-3.  Those ideas include:

  •  Use of repeated readings to build fluency. These are done with short reading passages, poems, or songs.
  •  Measuring prosody using the rubric from Tim and Melissa Cheesman Smith’s Megabook of Reading. LINK
  • Teaching my students how to “read like a storyteller.”
  • Teaching my students to “read to remember.”
  • Having my children sing excerpts from selected songs.
  • Using the method of “read to perform” (explained below)


As a result of the use of these ideas, I became familiar with a wide range of poems and songs. These came from friends like Eric Litwin and David Harrison. These also came from Tim’s Megabook and Phonics Poetry. Students invest about 5-7 minutes a day 5 days a week practicing their piece. At the end of each 2-week cycle, they perform their piece (read to perform). The results have been impressive both in improvement in prosody and in improvement in comprehension.  BTW- Dr. Rasinski reports similar positive results from the use of this adaption of repeated reading.  For me, this was a case of using research to inform my instruction. But what I didn’t know at first was that the research base supporting these practices was much larger than I realized.  

Enter Ann Kay. Ann made me aware of the fact that there is a large body of brain research that supports the idea of using music and poetry as an integral part of the process of teaching reading. I interviewed Ann at length about how she uses music in her reading instruction. Here is a link to that first interview LINK. Ann was especially excited about the work of Dr. Nina Kraus.  She drew heavily upon Dr. Kraus’s work as she carried out her own projects. She said she might be able to arrange a second interview with Dr. Kraus and herself and, of course, she did (Thank you Ann!). I’ll now let Ann tell you about herself, the work of Dr. Krauss, and her use of that work.  

Information provided by Ann Kay

Dr. Nina Kraus

The biography was taken from the Northwestern University website:

Nina Kraus, Ph.D., is a scientist, inventor, and amateur musician who studies the biology of auditory learning. Through a series of innovative studies involving thousands of research participants from birth to age 90, her research has found that our lives in sound, for better (musicians, bilinguals) or worse (language disorders, concussion, aging, hearing loss), shape auditory processing. Kraus has invented new ways to measure the biology of sound processing in humans that provide unprecedented precision and granularity in indexing brain function. With her technological innovations, she is now pushing science beyond the traditional laboratory by conducting studies in schools, community centers, and clinics.

The Brainvolts Website has tremendous information: LINK

Ann C. Kay

Ann is the co-founder of The Rock ‘n’ Read Project, LINK, a Minnesota nonprofit organization dedicated to using singing to unlock children’s potential for reading and learning. She leads educational development and makes presentations and teaches courses for parents, preschool and elementary classroom teachers. Formerly, Ann was a K-6 classroom music teacher, choir director, and associate director of graduate music education at the University of St. Thomas.

How does Dr. Kraus’ research about auditory processing impact the teaching of literacy?

Ann Kay says Dr. Kraus’ research is different than MRI studies because they track how the brain processes frequency. This has helped us understand that auditory processing is the key to language acquisition and literacy, and making music is the primary means of developing it. Her research studies have found that children who do not process sound effectively and those who cannot keep a steady beat (beat synchronization) will most likely struggle with reading. In an article, “Beat Keeping Ability Relates to Reading Readiness,” she writes:

The synchronizers also had higher pre-reading skills (phonological processing, auditory short-term memory, and rapid naming) compared with non-synchronizers. Overall, the results supported the idea that accurate temporal processing is important for developing the foundational skills needed in order to learn how to read.

Nina Kraus, PhD, & Samira Anderson, AuD, PhD 

https://northwestern.app.box.com/s/4gvdq5wksmiwti98jk362jdf0mijs2xs

What does this mean for teachers of reading?

We must be intentional about helping students develop their sound processing, phonological awareness, auditory working memory, and beat synchronization. The most effective activities are chanting rhythmic poems and singing folk songs while keeping the beat with two hands on their laps and playing singing games that require keeping a steady beat, such as hand-clapping games and jump rope rhymes. Later, students can use those games for practicing reading skills, such as letter sounds and sight words. Then, they can read the singing games, in this way they go from sound to sight, reading and re-reading words their brains already know. 

Examples: https://www.rocknreadproject.org/

Links to videos of singing games: https://www.lifelongmusicmaking.org/songdatabase.html

The Music and Mind video that Nina referred to LINK. In this video, a panel of experts talks about all the research supporting the idea of using music as part of a literacy program.

Another video detailing Dr. Kraus’s research is this one: ARTSpeaks Full Lecture: Music and the Brain (Nina Kraus) LINK

Thanks again to Ann for providing all that background. Now let’s have a look at the interview. Here are the questions we covered.

Dr. Kraus:

  1. What is the relationship between language and music in the brain? 02:30
  • In terms of brain development, what is the difference between making music vs listening to it? 05:00
  • How is the ability to keep a beat and play rhythms related to reading achievement? 09:50
  • How does having better auditory processing, auditory working memory and beat synchronization impact reading achievement? 19:30

Ann Kay:

  • Given the science, what do you suggest that parents and teachers do to help enable all children’s brains for reading? 21:30
  • Tell us a little about the work you’ve done with using music to teach reading. 29:00

Dr. Krauss just published a new book. Here is a screen capture of the book cover:

Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World

Link to order the book: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/sound-mind

REMARK BY ONE OF MY READERS

One of my readers- Mark Pennington made this remark on Facebook. Specials thanks to Mark for sharing these resources- Here are two sets of songs link in blog articles, which reading teachers may freely use with their students.

The first resource includes two videos of speech articulation songs (vowels and consonants) with mouth formations and sound-spelling cards:

The second resource is a collection of eight conventional spelling rule song videos: https://blog.penningtonpublishing.com/spelling_vocabulary/8-great-spelling-song-videos/?fbclid=IwAR26GbZHMrPzrVmpf359Zw03CqL96ALkv5cOdl7gY3ookQWoXQ2STKJe5_I

Dr. Sam’s Final Thoughts

I’m not sure that most practitioners in the reading field are aware of just how extensive brain research around the use of music in the teaching of reading is. What I find most intriguing about the use of songs and poetry is the high impact I’ve found from using “reading to perform”. This is a method that can be used for students of all ages, and it is especially effective for helping older readers who need further development in decoding skills. The beauty of it is that it only requires an investment of 5-7 minutes a day of classroom time. Additionally important is that students love doing this.

During the interview, I noticed Dr. Krauss viewed teaching as both art and science. So does Dr. Rasinski. Taken together I think the ideas of these two researchers can really inform us on how to teach reading in a way that is effective and appealing to students. As a practitioner, Ann Kay is on the cutting edge. I hope this interview has provided lots of new ideas for you to unpack. I also hope you will have a look at Dr. Kraus’s new book. Every time I read it, I find new ideas and insights.

Next week I’ll be sharing my interview with Laura Robb and David Harrison about their new book Guided Practice in Reading Growth. Until then

Happy Reading and Writing (and Singing too!)

Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the centrist who uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching

Copyright 2021 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

An interview of the authors of “Intentional from the Start: Guiding Emergent Readers in Small Groups” by Carolyn Helmers and Susan Vincent. Interview done by Dr. Sam Bommarito

An interview of the authors of Intentional from the Start: Guiding Emergent Readers in Small Groups” by Carolyn Helmers and Susan Vincent. Interview done by Dr. Sam Bommarito

When I found out that Susan Vincent had co-authored a book with a friend and colleague, I knew that I wanted to interview them because their book would be of great interest to many of my readers. Both authors graciously agreed to do the interview. I want to thank them both for that. So, let us have a look at what I learned about them and their new book.

Here are a few facts about Carolyn taken from the Stenhouse website. Click this LINK for more information about Carolyn.

Here are a few facts about Susan taken from the Stenhouse website. Click this LINK for more information about Susan. In addition, click this link to see my previous interview of Susan as she talked about the efficacy of Reading Recovery and the success her former district had using the program. LINK.

As you can see from their biographies, both Susan and Carolyn have extensive, successful experience teaching emergent readers. After presenting about their work at a conference, they were approached about doing a book designed to give the teachers of young beginning readers insights and ideas for helping them to help the children they work with. The result was the book Intentional from the Start: Guiding Emergent Readers in Small Groups. I think my readers will find it to be a treasure trove of practical ready to use ideas about how to work effectively with young children as they begin the reading process. Here is a screen capture of the book’s cover and a link for previewing/ordering the book LINK.

In the interview, Carolyn and Susan talk about their book and the best practices they recommend based on their considerable successful experiences working with young children as those children begin the journey of becoming successful lifelong readers (and writers!). Here are the questions from the interview. They are time-stamped so you can go first to the parts of the interview that interest you the most. ENJOY!

  1. Each of you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you as a person, you as a teacher. (00:29)
  • Give us “The Big Picture” of the book. Talk briefly about Figure 1.1. (03:52)
  • Talk to us about the characteristics of an emergent reader. What advice do you have for teachers to become “intentional from the start”? (06:45)
  • Give us some key takeaways from your book, things teachers could begin implementing next week. (09:00)
  • What about the dyslexic child? What advice do you have? (13:21)

Closing thoughts ( 16:40)

I hope you found some useful ideas in the interview. I am currently working with emergent readers. I found Susan and Carolyn’s ideas about how to work with them in small group settings quite valuable. The book is now on my professional bookshelf and has already become a “go-to” resource for me.

Over the next few weeks, I will be continuing to interview literacy leaders about their newest books. Next week I talk to Ann Kay and Dr. Nina Kraus about the topic of using music to teach reading. Nina is a well-credentialed researcher. She talks about her new book Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World. The book details her extensive, innovative brain research around sounds. Ann Kay has taken that research and done some highly successful workaround using music to teach reading (and writing!). The week after that I talk to David Harrison and Laura Robb about their new book Guided Practice for Reading Growth, Grades 4-8: Texts and Lessons to Improve Fluency, Comprehension, and Vocabulary. In it, they detail how they use poetry David wrote for their Close Reading program with intermediate-level students. David wrote the poetry to provide short passages to use in teaching the various topics that Laura identified as ones her 5th graders needed most.   Both of the upcoming interviews include many useful takeaways for teachers. So, until next time- Happy Reading and Writing.

Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the centrist who uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching

Copyright 2021 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving/Two Important upcoming events- Dr. Sam Bommarito

Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving/Two Important upcoming events- Dr. Sam Bommarito

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! As indicated last week, I’m taking a break from the blog this week in order to spend time with family and friends. Next week I will begin a series of interviews of literacy leaders. Included will be Susan Vincent, Carolyn Helmers, David Harrison, Laura Robb, Ann Kay and Nina Kraus. Each set of co-authors will be talking about the books they have written. There will be lots of new ideas and teaching takeaways in those upcoming interviews!

Also, here are links to two reading events I’ll be speaking at:

LitCon (Jan 29th-Feb 5th) LINK

Write to Learn (Feb 28th-March 1st) LINK

Hope to see you there!

Happy Reading and Writing.

Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the centrist who uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching

Copyright 2021 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

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An interview of Niki Simonetti about her newest book- Dyslexia Defused: Reading Struggles and Reading Solutions, conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

As a centrist, one of my goals in the past few years has been to meet and learn from people of all different points of view about how to teach reading. Doing that helps me find the common ground that I know exists on this very important topic. Niki Simonetti has spent 50 years teaching children with dyslexia. As you will see in the interview, she has found ways to help them become readers and writers. She has done this in part by focusing on what she calls the overlooked factors. In our many conversations on Twitter, I’ve found Niki to be open-minded and full of ideas that help teachers help kids. I was excited when she agreed to talk to me about her experiences and the new book she has written. The name of that book is Dyslexia Defused: Reading Struggles and Reading Solutions.

This book contains several unique and innovative ideas about strategies that can be used to help children with dyslexia. In addition to ideas for the classroom, she also includes ideas for helping everyone, including parents, who are dealing with dyslexia. There’s even advice for folks who are thinking about entering the field of working with dyslexic children. This book is a must-have for teachers. I highly recommend teachers consider getting one for themselves and making sure that their building has at least one copy available in their professional library.

Here are some highlights from the interview. They are time-stamped so you can go to the parts of the video of most interest to you:

Introduction to Niki 00:00

Niki talks about a case study of a six-year-old she worked with 01:01

Niki’s approach to phonics 8:55

Niki on consonants 14:10

Other tips from Niki, including how to break words into syllables 19:01

Final remarks 26:47

To get your copy of Niki’s book use this link:

https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781475863109/Dyslexia-Defused-Reading-Struggles-and-Reading-Solutions

Next week I’ll be taking a break for Thanksgiving. After that, I’ve lined up a series of great interviews with leading literacy experts. All of these interviews center around new books they’ve written. Among the people that are scheduled are Susan Vincent, David Harrison, Laura Robb, Ann Kay, and Jenna Cunningham.

In the meantime- Happy Reading and Writing!

Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the centrist who uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching

Copyright 2021 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.