Building Fluency Using the Ideas of Dr. Tim Rasinski: What our project looks like by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Building Fluency Using the Ideas of Dr. Tim Rasinski: What our project looks like by Dr. Sam Bommarito

A couple of weeks ago we had a very exciting visitor. Here is a tweet about that:

SMMA TWITTER FROM TIM

This year I spend one full day a week doing push-ins. Two of those push-ins are with third-grade teachers. I’m helping them to implement a writing workshop program.  I do some individual tutoring for students. Both are topics for another day. What I want to now talk about are the push-ins I do into two first grade rooms and two-second grade rooms. Those push-ins last about 50 minutes each. Last week I wrote about Tim’s visit a couple of years back where he told the story of a 1st-grade teacher who made some amazing progress with her students using repeated reading. Tim had a large body of research to back up the idea that repeated readings can have a very positive effect on reading. Let’s talk now about what this particular iteration of this general practice looks like.

In a nutshell here is what the team has arranged. Once every two weeks, the students get to pick a poem/song/other short reading to rehearse. The poems are rich in the sounds their basal is stressing for that period.  The students mainly work in pairs. Groups of three are formed only when the alternative is to have a student work on their own. Students showing stronger reading skills are paired with students showing somewhat weaker reading skills. Students practice their poems 5-7 minutes daily. If both students in the pair pick the same poem, each student takes a turn reading the poem, otherwise, each student reads their own poem. The pairing has proved especially useful. Both partners benefit. We’ve noticed that after a few weeks, children are no longer reading like a robot.  This link to a song from Go Noodle will help the reader understand what I mean by “robot reading” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWyX3VpzZmI . Our children are already reading more like storytellers. We are using the rubric from Dr. Rasinski’s Megabook of Fluency to help document that. Details about that will come in future blogs.

The whole idea of this arrangement is that the students know they are “rehearsing” for a performance. In this case every two weeks they record their poem on See-Saw.  Parents have access to the recording that their child makes. One of the unanticipated consequences of the program so far has been the parent’s reaction to hearing their child read. It has been overwhelmingly positive. They too seem to notice the difference reading with prosody makes.

We are drawing on the ideas of two of Rasinski’s books to guide the team in the implementation of the project. Here they are:

 

As the weeks go on, I will address the issues of what the underlying theories are about,  what we are doing,  and what the research says about those theories. We’ll discuss how these methods fit into the big picture of the overall literacy program being used at the school.  I’ll also talk about what the initial prosody instruction looks like. But for now, I hope you’ve gotten enough of an introduction to get a good sense of what we are up to.  I want to especially thank the team for their participation in the program. As you will find out, they’ve pretty well taken over the implementation of the project and have added a new element I hadn’t thought of. To find out what that is you’ll need to follow the blog over the next few weeks. In the meantime:

Happy Reading and Writing

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka the team facilitator)

Copyright 2019 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.

 

Exploring the Science and Art of Teaching Reading By Dr. Sam Bommarito

Exploring the Science and Art of Teaching Reading

By Dr. Sam Bommarito

This is a repost of a piece I did when I first decided to try out the ideas of Tim Rasinski with my students. I spend one full day a week pushing into classes. I thought reposting this piece from a year ago would be a great introduction to the how and why of what we are doing this year to scaffold our first and second graders into reading with prosody. Pay special attention to the true story of a first-grade teacher and what she did. I’ve highlighted it in red. More to come next week as I talk about how this has evolved into a complete program of prosody

Reading is both an Art and a Science. Why on earth have we all seemed to have forgotten that?  I’m just coming off an amazing evening that included the installation of the board and officers of our local ILA group in St. Louis, and listening to two outstanding speakers, Amanda Doyle- the author of Standing Up for Civil Rights in St. Louis and Tim Rasinski who was there to promote his newly released book The Megabook of Reading Fluency.  My regular readers know I post every Friday. For the next few Fridays, I’ll be unpacking the many wonderful ideas that came from the speakers and audience at that meeting.

Let’s start with the big gun. Tim Rasinski. I got to introduce him. Didn’t know I was going to do that until the outgoing president of our local ILA said: “Sam, why don’t you introduce our second speaker.”  OMG. What to say! Actually, it wasn’t very hard. Tim is a long-time friend of literacy in St. Louis. He is a former president of the IRA (now ILA), former editor of many prestigious journals, including the ILA’s research journal. He has enough publications to fill a room. Yeah, I said it that way- I was on the spot.  But you know, it’s true.  Most of all I described him as a major reading guru, well known for his work in fluency.

Let’s talk about fluency for a second. Tim doesn’t view fluency as speed reading (ugh!). He views it as prosody (yeah!).  He has a prosody rubric that he makes available for free on his website. He also uses it in his own 3-minute reading assessment, which is also available on his website (http://www.timrasinski.com/) That one’s not for free! His new book contains a revised version of the rubric that includes the acronym E.A.R.S. to describe the major components of prosody. I’ve supported the use of the various forms of this rubric for a long time. This is because, in my opinion, it actually measures reading. I’m not at all sure what it is those tests that measure only the speed of reading measure. I guess they might help folks who want to become auctioneers. Not sure who else really reads or talks that way. But I digress. What about this idea of reading as an art as well as science.

I’ve heard Tim speak many times in many places. But this was the first time I’d heard him pitch the idea that READING IS AN ART AS WELL AS A SCIENCE. He made a very compelling argument. He made it clear that he supports the idea that the teaching of reading is a science. Given his background and publications, I find his claim that he believes that teaching reading is a science more than credible.  However, my ears perked up though, when he started talking about the teaching of reading as an art as well. The more he talked, the more I realized that he was afraid it was becoming a lost art. What does the art of reading look like in the classroom?

Tim talked about several different classroom teachers he has encountered. One of them spent about half of her literacy time doing all the traditional scientific things, and the other half of the time having her children learn to read AND PERFORM poetry.  Practice all week, performances on Fridays.  She was a second-year primary teacher. She was getting major push back about “wasting” instructional time. The upshot- lots less art, lots more science, please. She wrote to Tim about that. He advised her to stay the course. She did. As a result, her classes’ end of the year test performance went up dramatically. She replicated the results the next year. She also became her state’s teacher of the year.

Readers, have I got your attention yet?

By next week I’ll have my own copy of Tim’s latest book (found it on Amazon Prime) and a chance to really look and think about both the ideas he presented Wednesday night in St Louis and about the content of his new book. (UPDATE Dec. 2019: The 1st and 2nd-grade teams and I are now using this book in this year’s project) A big thanks to Scholastic for sponsoring him. Just in the brief chance, I had to look at the book he brought with him and also looking at the online previews of the book I have become convinced that this book is destined to become the go-to handbook for teachers who want to do serious teaching around the concept of fluency.  It’s packed full of practical lessons and a defense for using such lessons that can only be mounted by someone with Tim’s knowledge of fluency. It is a blueprint on how to use the art (and science) of reading to help kids become more fluent readers. For me, this means readers who read with prosody. It doesn’t mean readers who aspire to read fast, faster, fastest. Instead, it means readers who aspire to read with varied speeds, speeds appropriate to the text content and meaning, speeds that demonstrate an understanding of text meaning. In short, readers who read like storytellers.  I predict the use of Tim’s rubric, and his lessons will go a long way toward helping to make that happen.

Interested?

(NOTE TO READERS: Please read the previous single word paragraph in a voice drawn out slowly, emphasis on the first syllable and with real enthusiasm! 😊 Writer’s workshop note I learned the writer’s trick of single-word paragraphs for the purpose of emphasis from my writing workshop teachers many years ago. At this juncture, I just tried to meld that particular piece of writing craft with the concept of reading with prosody. I hope all that just had the desired effect).

So…, there will be more to come on this topic over the next few Fridays.  For right now, I’m inviting my readers to wrap their heads around the idea that reading is both an art and science.  Some of you have had this idea for a long time. For some, it may be brand new. Please understand that treating the teaching of reading as art can be justified.  Treating it as an art can pay off in so many ways. According to Rasinski, one of those ways happens to include the possibility of better test scores. But it also includes so much more. I think Rasinski’s newest book will help you as a teacher to get into the art of teaching reading (and writing) while still using the science of reading (and writing). Some of the things he said in St. Louis made me feel I was back in a writer’s workshop seminar.  You’ll see what I mean next week. Anyway, we REALLY need to talk more about all this over the next few weeks. As always, both push back, and praise are welcome. Have a good week!

 

Happy Reading and Writing

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito (A.K.A. Dr. B., newly minted “art” teacher & wanna-be storyteller  who is learning how to read with a storyteller’s voice)

Here’s a little more information about Tim and his background:

RASINSKI ONE

Have a look at the Missouri Reader: You’ll be happy you did! by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Have a look at the Missouri Reader: You’ll be happy you did!

by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Today I’m going to talk to you about The Missouri Reader and some of the wonderful free literacy resources you will find in it. As you know, I am the Co-Editor along with Glenda Nugent. We’ve been around for over 40 years. It started out as a “paper journal,” now we publish digitally. We have three issues each year. We are peer-reviewed, and our editorial board has many highly qualified people (see the sidebar on the Table of Contents). We publish many well-known experts in the reading field.  But we also encourage teachers to publish, especially action research, book reviews, and app reviews. The last page of each issue explains how to submit an article for review. We are an official publication of the Missouri Literacy Association. Missouri Literacy Association is an ILA affiliate.

I want to call attention to two issues for you to explore. The first is the poetry issue. It is our most-read issue of all time. It contains TONS of innovative ideas on how to use poetry. It was the brainchild of David Harrison, a famous author/poet in Missouri. He approached Glenda Nugent (my Co-Editor)  and me about the idea of a special issue dedicated especially to poetry. We’re so glad he did. Here is the link to that issue. Feel free to share it with other interested educators.  https://joom.ag/o1ta

Poetry Issue

 

The other issue I’d like for you to read is our current issue. It is dedicated to Dr. Linda Dorn. There are several touching tributes to her work in literacy, in the In Memoriam article.  As always there are also articles on a variety of literacy topics.  I’ve already had the elementary professional development director for one large district write to tell me she was planning to share a couple of articles with her staff because she thought they would help to improve their already great program. The issue hasn’t even been out for 24 hours.  I think the issue is worth a look. Here is the link.  https://joom.ag/BuLe

COVER

Part of our way of distributing the  Missouri Reader is the use of what we call “word of cyberspace.” We ask our readers to share the links to the magazine with other readers. As a result, we are now read all around the world. So, if you like what you see in one or both of the issues, please share. THANKS!

Next week Dr. Sam is taking a break for Thanksgiving. The week after, I hope to start talking about some fluency work I’m doing with 1st and 2nd graders with the help of a group of exceptionally talented teachers. Dr. Tim Rasinski came to see us last week because we are doing work based on his ideas on fluency. Tune in after Thanksgiving to hear all about it. Until then:

Happy Reading and Writing

Dr. Sam Bommarito (Co-Editor of an authentic teacher’s journal)

Copyright 2019 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.

The Reading Wars: Let’s talk not bicker. By Dr. Sam Bommarito

The Reading Wars: Let’s talk not bicker.

By Dr. Sam Bommarito

Recently an attempt was made to challenge my credibility. Here is a screen capture, so there is no question about what was said:

KAREN V

Here some facts:

From my Word Press Account:

NEW CHART

 

I currently have 2,329 followers on Twitter. On WordPress when I compare 2018 when I started blogging to 2019 (which isn’t complete yet), my number of views and number of visitors has more than tripled. Over 40,000 views this year so far. Sorry, I think most folks would characterize this as a large and growing following, I certainly do. Guess that demonstrates very clearly that Karen and I tend to look at data very differently.  We’ll let readers decide who is more accurate in their interpretation of the preceding data. Let’s now explore the views Karen and I have.

She is firm in her position. I have been flexible in mine, modifying as I learn new things from “the other side.” Shanahan has had a major influence on my views. I told him that I don’t always agree with him, but I always learn from him.  On the question of whether or not I understand Karen’s views-  I don’t think disagreeing with her views is the same thing as not understanding them. I do agree with Karen that she really doesn’t understand what I have been saying.

Throughout the rest of the piece, I will be referring to “the video”. Here is what I am referring to:

ILA LIVE

The session was led by two of the top experts in the literacy field today, Nell Duke and P.D. Pearson. I strongly feel that what they and the panel had to say provide important information for all to consider before making major decisions about the future course literacy should take.

Below is a link to register. Registration is free to all. Once you register you can stream the video any time.

https://literacyworldwide.org/conference/registration/live-stream

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Let’s do now look at a sample of some of her points and some of my counterpoints for you to consider.

  1. She maintains constructivist practices (she calls it balanced literacy) don’t work. She bases that on the current scene in the teaching of reading. I’ve pointed out numerous times that the current literacy scene includes districts doing almost nothing, districts carrying out constructivist practices poorly (without fidelity), districts carrying them out with fidelity, districts using Science of Reading (hereafter SOR) poorly, Districts carrying out SOR with fidelity, etc.. You can’t make broad pronouncements about things from that kind of general sample. The only way to tell what’s working is to:

DRAW A REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE OF DISTRICTS USING EACH OF THE APPROACHES/ PRACTICES WITH FIDELITY.

Multiple times, I’ve asked for such a sample giving DISTRICT level data, using full comprehension tests to demonstrate constructivist practices aren’t working. She’s provided lots and lots of data, none of which meet those criteria. I want to focus on the issue of how various programs play out when DISTRICTS actually implement them.  Not sure how to be any clearer than that on what I’m asking. It’s based on one of the fundamental tenets of scientific research.  Base your conclusions on scientific samples of places using what you are studying WITH FIDELITY.  I’m simply asking to include some science in the Science of Reading.

  1. She called for eliminating reading instruction and replacing it with content-area instruction. My counterproposal is to include substantial content area material in the reading instruction time. You can then teach students to apply the reading strategies needed to unpack the information from those texts. BTW I think it will take more than ten strategy lessons to do that (see my remarks below on Willingham’s work).
  2. She was critical of the amount of time being spent on teaching reading strategies. On this, we have a partial agreement. Many teachers spend most/all of their strategy instruction on teaching what the strategy is and not enough on applying the strategy. I agree with the position of Nell Duke (see the video). She indicates that there is a large body of research in favor of carrying out strategy instruction using gradual release, i.e. gives the student lots of opportunities to apply the strategy. I suggest you stop the instruction when you see the student can apply the strategy independently.  Overall Duke’s position is that a substantial amount of time is needed in strategy instruction using the gradual release model. For a more complete view of her work and P.D. Pearson’s look at this book chapter https://www.learner.org/workshops/teachreading35/pdf/Dev_Reading_Comprehension.pdf. Based on Willingham’s work the other side calls for a substantially smaller amount of time for strategy instruction.
  3. Let’s explore the issue of Willingham’s research indicating the importance of building vocabulary knowledge and background. I have no argument with including substantial time on vocabulary and background. Vocabulary and background are important. That’s been a foundational point in all the reading courses I’ve taught over the years.

Some of the folks from the other side seem to be under the impression that Willingham’s work means after you spend a small number of sessions on strategies (10 or so), you’re done with strategies, and then you can spend the bulk of instructional time with building comprehension and vocabulary. That is counter to Duke’s findings. Among other things it does not include gradual release. I find stopping when the strategy is mastered a more precise cut off than the cut off of 10.  A careful examination of what Willingham actually demonstrated indicates “10 and out” is not what his research shows either. He actually calls for several cycles of strategy instruction. So it’s ten, then ten again later, etc. Also, take a careful look at the late Grant Wiggin’s criticisms of Willingham’s work before taking his work at face value.

I’m not saying to forget about building background and vocabulary. Building background and vocabulary is critical. I’m just saying doing so does not eliminate the need for a SUBSTANTIAL direct instruction on comprehension strategies using the gradual release model.

  1. Finally, there is the issue of whether or not implementing the cluster of practices the other side advocates (I’ll let their leadership tell you what those are) really helps. Specifically, will it help every student (almost every student) every time? When I’ve asked folks for evidence to that effect, they usually say there is not a program that helps almost every single child almost every single time. I agree.  My next point is based on that. It is critical:

If it doesn’t work for every kid every time, then what are you doing for the kids for whom it doesn’t work?

For instance, what are you doing for word callers (see Cartwright’s book)?  Why aren’t you using analytic phonics?  Shanahan, the NRP, and numerous studies indicate that both systematic analytic phonics and synthetic phonics work. When I raise that point, I normally get tons of questions indicating some SoR proponents don’t believe systematic phonics exist. If that’s the case where did the NRP studies that Shanahan cites come from? Sorry, systematic analytic phonics exists. Check out the studies to see what it looks like.  Finally, how long is long enough for decodable books? Shanahan reports some SoR folks calling for two years or more. He finds that call ridiculous. I concur.  Just today he had this to say about decodables “…—This is fascinating. You are correct that each time a youngster guesses a word from context instead of looking at the combination of letters in the word, he/she is missing an opportunity to learn the statistical properties of the orthographic system. However, it makes no sense to try to solve that problem by altering the statistical properties of the language (which, of course, is what we do when we try to limit children’s access to text to “decodable” text). If we want kids to learn from the statistical properties of English, it makes little sense to expose them to a form of English that has little correspondence to the statistical properties of English. I think that is why no one has found a clear learning advantage from text decodability alone.”  My question- what is a good range for how long to use decodables and should they be used exclusively in that initial Instruction?

Another issue is what is a reasonable amount of time to spend on phonics instruction.  In the video, P.D. Pearson makes the point that the time being used for phonics instruction exceeds the time research indicates is needed. He also notes that the research finding that phonics instruction does not help older readers has been ignored.

I don’t want to come off as saying there aren’t already points of agreement. I agree with Shanahan and folks from the other side that MUCH more phonics instruction time is needed (some teachers are saying they do it and then don’t).  Preservice teacher education courses need to include a strong phonics component.  Practicing teachers need more PD, especially those who earned their degrees when teaching phonics was viewed as unnecessary.  However, given the research around analytic and synthetic phonics (and other forms of phonics), training teachers in just one form of phonics is unacceptable. The contention being made by some SoR proponents, that analytic phonics is a weak sister form of phonics, is simply not supported by the research.

Perhaps I really am at an impasse with some folks on the other side. My perception is they are not taking the challenges to their position seriously.  They seem to be taking a “my way or the highway stand”, forcing their position on everyone, even those who have reasonable questions about implementing what they propose, questions that haven’t been answered yet.  Before making the decision that they are completely right, please do view the live stream of the ILA session. Lots of relevant information there.  Then go to the library of a university with a reading program and look up the current copy of the Handbook of Reading. Read what it says about phonics and comprehension.

In sum, before deciding, look at ALL the research first.

In the meantime, I have found several folks from the SoR side who are willing to dialogue and not bicker. For the moment that is where I will focus my attention. It is my sincere hope that the dialogue will eventually eliminate the need for the term “the other side”.

In the long run, I really do hope to spark a #readingevolution.

For that to happen both sides have first to admit their positions have limitations.

Once all sides are willing to do that, bickering can be replaced with dialogue. It’s been almost two years since I made this post. Please do read it one last time and see whether or not you’d like to be a part of a reading evolution #readingevolution1. Perhaps there actually will come a day when there aren’t sides anymore.  Dare to dream.

#readingevolution1 https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/03/16/a-call-for-a-reading-evolution-no-its-not-typo-i-mean-evolution-by-dr-sam-bommarito/comment-page-1/

Thanks for listening. Lot’s to unpack here!

Dr. Sam Bommarito

Copyright 2019 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History in the Making Part Three: Reflections about What Research Really Says About Teaching Reading- and Why That Still Matters by Dr. Bommarito

This final installment advocates for the direct, explicit, systematic teaching of comprehension strategies

History in the Making Part Three: Reflections about What Research Really Says About Teaching Reading- and Why That Still Matters by Dr. Bommarito

For the past few weeks, I’ve talked about what Pearson, Duke, and the rest of the panel had to say in the historic session on reading research that was conducted at the ILA convention in New Orleans last month. We will now turn to what was said about comprehension. Once again, no slides to fall back on, but I still highly recommend that you review the thorough summary of the whole program found on the ILA website.

https://www.literacyworldwide.org/blog/literacy-daily/2019/10/22/recapping-what-research-says?utm_source=TW-10222019&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ThisWeek&utm_content=Story-1

In the description that follows, I’ll be using these highlights, my personal notes from the session (I watched it as it was streamed live), and my review of the session from also watching the archive feed that was available for a time on the ILA website.

The ILA recap reports the following:

Tackling Reading Comprehension

There is a large body of research supporting the explicit teaching of comprehension strategies using a gradual release of responsibility model, said Duke. There’s no doubt about its importance.

“It’s as though because we think content knowledge building is so important, we’re just going to ignore three decades of research on comprehensive strategy instruction,” said Duke. “This isn’t a zero-sum game saying, ‘if you can’t attend to content, then you can’t teach comprehension strategies’ or ‘if you teach comprehension strategies, you must not be paying enough attention to vocabulary or morphology.’”

There is also concern that the literacy field is usurping content instruction in school districts. Meaning, literacy is dominating the day with some programs having curricula addressing social studies and science standards. This leaves districts feeling as if teaching both subjects are optional. This is deeply problematic, said Duke. Literacy practitioners should be advocating for science and social studies instruction.

“For too long, literacy has been a bully and pushed science and social studies off of the stage,” Pearson said in his final comments. “Literacy should be a buddy, not a bully, for science and social studies.”

 

MY REFLECTIONS: I want to address the issue of literacy pushing science and social studies off the stage.  From 1970 to 1977 I was a high school social studies teacher (minus the two years I spent in the Army- drafted, ended up a Sergeant E-5, but did not serve in a combat role). As a former social studies teacher, I am genuinely concerned that we spend enough time on the content areas. As a reading specialist/ reading staff developer I am equally concerned that we spend enough time in reading to assure, especially when students read in those content area readings, that they learn all the reading strategies needed to be successful. After my return from the service, I taught the Content Area Reading course for over a decade as an adjunct. The texts I used, various editions of Vacca and Vacca’s Content Area Reading, are a rich source of such strategies. There are others.

I think there is a have your cake and eat it too solution to the conundrum of having time enough for both reading strategies and work in the content area. I just did an in-service this summer for teachers in Houston, where I recommended that they implement a full guided reading program, not just the small group part of guided reading that many places call “guided reading.” Look at the chart in the F & P book and my post about that visit to see what I mean.

https://doctorsam7.blog/2019/08/23/musings-of-a-workshop-teacher-advice-i-just-gave-to-some-1st-grade-teachers-in-houston-by-dr-sam-bommarito/

One of the things that should happen if one does a full guided reading program is that teachers always do read aloud/think alouds in advance of the small group work, laying the groundwork for having the students try out strategies. That idea was partly inspired by the thinking of Burkins & Yaris in their book, Who’s Doing the Work?  My addition to Burkins and Yaris’s idea is the thought that the read-alouds/think alouds should include a significant number of readings from the content areas. If we did it that way significant time would be spent concurrently on both things. Right now, my “go-to” person for think alouds is Molly Ness. She was mentioned by name as members of the panel talked about the worth of the sessions on think alouds she did at the convention. Overall, I think the path of including significant amounts of content-area readings as part of the reading program is much better than the advice being offered by some that we drop the reading strategies instruction and replace it with content-area instruction and vocabulary development.

Here are some highlights about Duke’s ideas around comprehension; these are taken from one of the resources she shared at the presentation.  It outlines what she feels is needed to get students reading by third grade

LINK TO THE RESOURCE:

http://www.nasbe.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Duke_May-2019-Standard.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3rAbCUbCqja5hIDB_Eb0_g6ovTUTXVJ99JDjYp42pf-cXEuPBMQw-ukRg

 

MORE THAN DECODING WORDS DUKE

 

She then shares Box 1, which explains all the “range of knowledge, skills, and dispositions” a student needs to perform well on the state tests. Since the tests are designed to fully measure comprehension, it is also a list of the requirements for being a reader who can make meaning from what is read.

DUKE TEST

 

My reflections: There currently seems to be a movement afoot that holds comprehension concerns can be fully met by simply providing more background and vocabulary instruction/information to students. Please study Duke’s comments carefully. It takes much more than simply providing additional background and vocabulary instruction to give students what they need to perform well on the state tests.  The tests are designed to assess whether or not students can read (not simply decode). Abandon teaching reading strategies, facilitating reading attitudes, comprehension monitoring, et al. at your own risk. I’ll reinforce this observation with an excerpt from another of Duke’s documents.

https://dwwlibrary.wested.org/files/4227281.pdf

TRANSCRIPT DUKE

(Nell Duke is with the University of Michigan. The above screen capture is from the current online transcript of her video and it says Michigan State. See video for correct information)

There is a large body of evidence that spans a couple of decades demonstrating that the direct teaching of reading strategies is crucial. It is true that some teachers fail to heed the advice to “then give students lots of opportunities to practice specific reading strategies” and instead spend too much time teaching the strategy and not enough time on applying it.  That is an easily corrected problem and in no way justifies abandoning or ignoring the direct, explicit teaching of reading strategies. This is an element that is missing from many of the current approaches to comprehension being proposed by some proponents of the Science of Reading.

My advice to district administrators is to seek out programs that FULLY prepare students to do what they need to do to develop reading comprehension. Administrators should ask that before any program is adopted provides longitudinal data showing improvement in comprehension over more than one year. Improvement should be measured by FULL tests of comprehension, i.e. tests that include reading passages, questions, and writing performance. Lesser tests may do for pilots etc. But when the time comes to spend thousands (millions) on programs, I ask that administrators be sure that these programs use testing instruments that meet this gold standard. Programs that do not include the explicit systematic teaching of comprehension strategies are unlikely to provide students the array of abilities they need to comprehend what they read. At the end of the day, reading is and should be treated as a process of meaning-making.

That concludes my report on what was said at the historic session and my take on what the information reported means. In the next few weeks, I will begin reporting on what some teachers are doing vis a vis phonics instruction and fluency and look for possible points of agreement among the current views on reading. I’ll also be reporting on some very promising work my team and I are doing in the area of developing fluency using practices inspired by Dr. Tim Rasinski, a well-known expert in the area of fluency. Tim came to visit our site this week. Everyone was VERY excited. You can expect to hear all about it in future posts.

Happy Reading and Writing.

Dr. Sam Bommarito

Copyright 2019 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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Word Callers: The forgotten children of the great debate in reading by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Word Callers: The forgotten children of the great debate in reading by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Last week I talked about the early childhood aspects of the historic ILA session led by P.D. Pearson and Nell Duke. This week I had intended to wrap things up, focusing on the issues surrounding comprehension. I’m postponing that until next week because of some new information about word callers that I found.  It came from one of the informational pieces Nell Duke provided. I thought it was important enough to rate its own blog entry.

Regular readers of the blog know that I often try to call attention to the needs of all readers, not just those who need intense, direct, systematic phonics. You see, there are some readers for whom an intense, direct instruction synthetic phonics approach doesn’t work. They exist. I know they exist because just this morning, on a readings coach’s Facebook site, teachers were talking about such a student.  I know they exist because, over the years, I’ve had first-hand experience with some. I also know they exist because Simple View of Reading folks have never produced the “works with almost all the children almost all the time” study. (In fairness, neither have the constructivists!).

Today I want to turn my attention to another group of children whose needs are sometimes neglected and ignored. Word Callers. I know they exist. Back in the day, I worked with them in all my Title One programs.  However, when I blogged about them Science of Reading advocates were quick to discount what I had to say in those entries. They claimed I was raising a red herring, that Word Callers didn’t exist in large numbers (they only look at the ones resulting from Hyperlexia, so their count is very low), and that they couldn’t be created by programs that overemphasized decoding.

On the other hand, my own direct experience was giving me information contrary to what the Science of Reading folks were claiming. I am active in several different literacy organizations. I often talk to literacy leaders from different districts in my area. Some of them reported that they felt that, in their districts, word callers were the most significant issue. Far more of them than students who couldn’t break the code. That demonstrates that, in these places, progress is being made in teaching decoding. Frequently these were districts in which overall test scores were well above average. In the research process outlined by P.D. Pearson, when observations like that come up, it means it’s time to do some research and/or find some relevant research. Boy did I ever find some relevant research.

I found it in the article, Reading by Third Grade: How Policymakers Can Foster Early Literacy.

http://www.nasbe.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Duke_May-2019-Standard.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3rAbCUbCqja5hIDB_Eb0_g6ovTUTXVJ99JDjYp42pf-cXEuPBMQw-ukRg

READING BY THIRD GRADE

Here’s the highlight of what was said in Nell Duke’s handout that really caught my attention:

WORD CALLER COMBINE

Not only do word callers exist, but they account for a significant (my emphasis) number of those who struggle on state tests of reading. This squares perfectly with what my literacy leader friends were finding in their districts. It is very difficult to see how the simple view of reading’s current practices on how to handle comprehension can possibly provide for what these children need. Much more on that point next week.

WORD CALLERS COVER

For the moment, let’s just say these children need direct intense work in comprehension. For readers who want to read more about some research-informed things that can be done to help these students see Word Callers by Kelly B. Cartwright. Nell Duke is the editor. It is informed by research. There are 16 pages of citations at the end, from peer-reviewed journals. In personal correspondence, the author, Kelly B. Cartwright offered to provide additional research as well. The book is readily available from any number of on-line sources. It has already become one of my go-to professional books. I now keep a copy on my desk.

Next week I will return to my series about the ILA presentation. In part 3, I will address what was said about comprehension. I will discuss why comprehension, especially comprehension at the level required by state tests in reading, is not something kids can learn “naturally.” There must be direct and systematic teaching of the things needed for that level of comprehension to occur. Until then,

Happy Reading and Writing

Dr. Sam Bommarito (trying to find ways to meet the needs of ALL students in literacy)

 

 

Copyright 2019 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.

History in the Making Part Two: Reflections about What Research Really Says About Teaching Reading- and Why That Still Matters by Dr. Bommarito

History in the Making Part Two: Reflections about What Research Really Says About Teaching Reading- and Why That Still Matters by Dr. Bommarito

Last week I gave highlights from what P.D. Pearson had to say. I shared some of the key slides from that presentation. This week I’ll talk about what Pearson and the rest of the panel had to say in the open discussion. No slides to fall back on this time, but I highly recommend a thorough summary of the whole program found on the ILA website.

https://www.literacyworldwide.org/blog/literacy-daily/2019/10/22/recapping-what-research-says?utm_source=TW-10222019&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ThisWeek&utm_content=Story-1

In the description that follows, I’ll be using these highlights, my personal notes from the session, and my review of the session watching the archive feed that is currently still active on the ILA website. (I used my ILA membership’s credentials to log in to the website and then found the archive page. These archives will not be available indefinitely, so take advantage while they still are!).

The ILA recap reports the following:

According to Cabell, children start developing the skills they need for later literacy success from birth. Preschool teachers can help facilitate this at a young age by drawing children’s attention to print while they’re reading out loud, playing phonological games, and practicing writing in settings that inspire curiosity.

“Children must develop their language skills as early as possible,” said Cabell, “By the end of kindergarten children’s language skills start to stabilize. They grow in their skills, but really they are in the same place as their peers.”

MY REFLECTIONS: My wife is a parent educator, so I am very familiar with the importance of language development in the early years. I’ve presented it to her parent educator group. When I did, I promoted the idea of “Read to them, talk with them, act as if books are important-they are!”. The question came up during that session.  Can a really young child really interact with a book? One of the parent educators said “One time a Mom was wondering about that when the baby picked up the book, played with it, put it in her mouth (it was one of those you can)  and stayed engaged with it for several minutes. Guess she was meeting that book on her own terms and enjoying it!” Everyone had a good laugh about that. But the point is, if from the earliest encounters, books are treated as important to the parent then the child will usually also treat them as important. I asked them to be sure to make that point with the parents. One of Mem Fox’s famous sayings is “When I say to a parent, ‘read to a child,’ I don’t want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate.” That is from her book about how reading to a child changes lives (and it can). Parents, parent educators, and preschool teachers can all have a hand in making sure all children get their fair share of that chocolate!

I spent over three decades in Title 1 programs working with children from both rural and urban areas. These were not always children who are read to or had books in the home. The first thing to do is really very simple. Read to them, help them discover the joy and wonder books can bring. In the process, make sure they get the background they need to understand the Concepts of Print. (print carries the message, moves left to right et al.)  My Reading Recovery training was invaluable in helping me to do that as a teacher. Later on, as a staff developer, I tried to help my teachers develop that selfsame skill set. Moving on to teaching reading without first establishing the concepts about print is an exceptionally bad idea. The child needs the schema the Concepts of Print provides before moving into print instruction.

What if the parent can’t read? Linda Mitchell, a member of our local ILA group has an innovative answer to that. She tells of her own mom, who couldn’t read. Even though she couldn’t read every day, she pretended to read the paper to Linda. This taught Linda the importance of print. Linda reports that in the process of imitating, she became a reader. This led to forming the Imitation Read Metro Reach Literacy Project a project that encourages parents to read to their children. Part of what she does is to give the parents books to take home for themselves. Read all about it using these links:  https://metroeastliteracyproject.blogspot.com/p/the-imreading-initiative.html?m=1 https://vencafstl.org/event/harnessing-imitation-to-boost-reading-achievement-metro-east-literacy-project-2/

I would be remiss if I did not talk about the problem of book deserts. Book deserts are zip codes where most children don’t have books at home. There are several projects aimed at ending book deserts.

Molly Ness, the primary author of the ILA position paper on Read Alouds, has a wonderful podcast that tells of many ways that folks are currently getting books into the hands of children in the book deserts. The podcasts are more than just a report about book give away programs. They are designed to encourage the growth of even more such programs. She already has 14 podcasts online,  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/end-book-deserts/id1471803313. Have a listen to one of them, please!

Our state ILA got involved in book giveaways when the ILA Convention came to St. Louis a few years back. ILA arranged for vendors to donate the books they didn’t take home to the state ILA. We rented warehouse space with help from national. Eventually, more than 20,000 books got into the hands of children in book deserts. That figure is higher than the number of books donated by vendors. The reason is we learned the tricks of how to get even more books out from a St Louis organization known as Ready to Learn, which used the same warehouse space we did to store and process books for giveaways.

Ready to Learn has gotten over a quarter of a million books into the hands of children in book deserts, mainly those attending Title 1 schools in the Northern part of the St. Louis region. Find them on Facebook at @readytolearnstl.

St. Louis Black Authors, headed by St Louis ILA board member Julius Anthony, is also into the business of getting books into the hands of children. Read all about their Believe project using this link http://stlblackauthors.com/.  They now have five different well-stocked bookrooms designed to be a place where children can come and read books written by St. Louis Black Authors members and other culturally relevant books. One of them is at the Ferguson Community Center. They are amazing, inviting places complete with comfortable chairs et al. and meaningful murals on the wall done by local black artists.

Believe

I wrote a blog about Ready to Learn and St. Louis Black Authors a little over a year ago (before the Believe project). Here is the link https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/04/06/getting-books-into-the-hands-of-children-part-two-of-three-by-dr-sam-bommarito/

All the preceding projects speak to the issue of creating a culture of literacy inside the areas known as book deserts. I was the parent liaison for my Title 1 program (extra duty on top of teaching) for ten years. I found parents in urban areas are more than willing to get involved. We started out with 2 or 3 parents coming to our events. We ended up with 200-300 people coming. The trick was finding parent leadership and following their lead. We had ice cream socials, flashlight reads in the gym, and book exchange nights. The common thread in all this is creating a culture of literacy with the help of parents. It includes helping to make sure that children get the talk and reading experiences that build the skills Cabell talks about. It means bringing Kindergarten back to its original purpose, a Children’s Garden, where children come to learn through play. There are strong movements within the Early Childhood Community to do exactly that.  See this link to get started into exploring those movements https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/05/why-young-kids-learn-through-movement/483408/

That covers what I have to say about the early childhood part of the discussion. I focused on the need to build a culture of literacy as an important part of any literacy program. This culture of literacy helps to create the situations needed for students to get the early print experiences that are crucial for literacy development.  Next time, in part three, I will pick up the rest of the session’s discussion, especially what was said about comprehension.

Until then Happy Reading and Writing

Please remember the Reading Evolution #readingevolution1 https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/03/16/a-call-for-a-reading-evolution-no-its-not-typo-i-mean-evolution-by-dr-sam-bommarito/

Copyright 2019 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.

History in the Making Part One: Reflections about What Research Really Says About Reaching Reading- and Why That Still Matters by Dr. Bommarito

History in the Making Part One: Reflections about What Research Really Says About Reaching Reading- and Why That Still Matters by Dr. Bommarito

 

Last Saturday, at the ILA Convention in New Orleans, there was a historic session about research in the field of reading. Panel members included P.D. Pearson, who created the model of gradual release and literally changed the face of reading comprehension in reading; Nell Duke, a no-nonsense, let the chips fall where they may reading researcher; Sonia Cabel from the Florida Center of Reading Research, a place that provides materials and research that are used widely throughout the literacy world  and Gwendolyn Thompson whose research focuses on identifying effective ways to negotiate the cultural borders between various learning environments,  including urban classrooms and the African American Church, homes.

The first blog entry on this topic will focus on some of the things Dr. Pearson had to say about research in reading and my reflections on them. Here are screen captures of the first slide entries to consider:

P.D. Rule 1

P.D. RULE 2

Some slides related to these two slides:

HEADLINE

PD PROBLEM

 

 

MY REFLECTIONS: I’ve reported in this blog on numerous occasions that SOME science of learning advocates try to pass off gains on decoding measures as gains of comprehension.  Whether it be the word lists of pseudowords that Pearson references, or test results using measures like the Dibels, the NRP made it quite clear that gains in decoding do not automatically result in gains in comprehension. That is why I recommend that district leaders look for the ability to produce multi-year gains in comprehension, as measured by comprehension tests, before adopting any materials or programs. This is true whether they come from SoR advocates or advocates of constructivist practices.

Pearson cites the 18 hours of phonemic awareness instruction the NRP indicates needed, to what actually goes on in some kindergarten classes. In previous blogs, I’ve talked about Dr. Tim Shanahan’s assessment of the two years of exclusive work in decodable books called for by some Science of Reading advocates is excessive and not supported by the research. Remember that time is a finite thing in classroom instruction and using more time than needed on one kind of instruction results in other forms of instruction suffering.  I must point out that later in this presentation Nell Duke did say that use decodable books was the educational practice most supported by current research. The crux of my comment is, let’s not overdo the use of them.

PD RULE 3

RULE 4

Slides related to rules 3 & 4

HEADLINE

PD PROBLEM

MY REFLECTIONS: As indicated in the screen captures Pearson says, “Experiments and RCT yes, but in any scientific endeavor, RCTs are the last 5% of the research journey. Behind is a lot more.” I can’t tell you how many times in my various conversations in cyberspace after bringing up various research results. I’ve been told that’s not a Random Sample design, so I’m going to discount it. It seems many Science of Reading folks are trained to give that response. In their minds any qualitative data is useless. I would point out that many qualitative studies, by using non-parametric statistics, can and do produce results that can be shown to beat chance. Close and personal Ethnography also has a place according to Pearson. As he says, “When you invite the research family to the policy table, you invite them all, even the cousins you’d rather not talk to.” My opinion is that limiting research so that only RCT designs are allowed cuts our research journey short and can result in stagnation rather than progress in the pursuit of reading  research. I’ll be using the ideas Dr. Pearson gave in this part of the presentation to respond next time someone takes the RTC only stance in one of my cyberspace conversations (Thanks David!!!).

The final two rules:

RULE 5

RULE 6

 

MY REFLECTIONS: The best (worst?) example of cherry-picking I can think of is Dykstra’s “punch you in the nose” video that many Science of Reading advocates find so enthralling.  Aside from the lack of professionalism demonstrated by his taking the “punch you in the nose” stance, there is a complete misrepresentation of the facts surrounding how the history of reading went. His version goes like this.  Whole language folks weren’t doing phonics. After it became clear phonics were necessary, they finally relented and adopted some weak forms of phonics that still don’t get the job done. This, of course, fits nicely in promoting the thought that his preferred form of instruction, direct intense synthetics phonics, should be adopted. It makes for a great public relations campaign and seems to have been widely picked up by the media. The problem is when you look at histories of reading found in books where the history of reading is written by folks with actual credentials in reading (Dykstra freely admits he has none), that this sequence of events is nowhere to be found.

First, whole language advocates have long embraced analytic phonics. I was present at the ILA Hall of Fame presentation in 1995, where Ken Goodman said exactly that. Second, analytic phonics is not a “weak sister” form of phonics. The NRP concluded long ago that systematic phonics works best. Tim Shanahan is fond of pointing our that the NRP said systematic (not synthetic). Both synthetic and analytic phonics were found to work if done systematically.  The almost total reliance on directly taught synthetic phonics that seems to be the cornerstone of the Science of Reading movement simply isn’t justified by the facts. Research indicates that there is a place, an important place, for analytic phonics.  This fact seems to have been completely lost in the most recent media coverage of the whole issue of how to teach reading. Pearson also points out that the original research on phonics was done in a setting that included much more than simply synthetic phonics. Again the recent media coverage seems to ignore most of these other things.

I also make the point that Science of Reading folks claim that Whole Language/Balanced Literacy (they incorrectly treat them as the same) has completely failed. They say this is so because what we are doing now isn’t working. I have no argument with the thought that what we are doing now isn’t working. However, what we are doing now includes districts that are doing WL and/or BL without fidelity to best practices in those approaches. It includes districts that have no real approach at all. It also includes districts that are using the practices advocated by Science of Reading folks. When I make that last point, I’m instantly told that I should draw a sample of just those districts and see how they are doing. Point taken. However, that means that before Science of Reading folks claim that Whole Language or Balanced Literacy (or my preferred term, districts using constructivist practices) have completely failed, they need to base that on a scientifically drawn sample of districts using those practices with fidelity. Because both WL and BL are umbrella terms, meaning different things to different people, I advocate for looking at the specific constructivist practices involved rather than using the umbrella terms. In any event, SoR folks must produce studies of districts based on a scientific sample of districts using such practices with fidelity and failing before claiming that those practices are failing. Given the results of things like the recent preliminary study of workshop teaching in New York (small N, but a larger study is in the works) and other similar studies, it is highly unlikely they will be able to make that case. Also- if they are going to act like their methods work with everyone, then they also need to produce studies that show their systematic phonics approach works with almost every child almost every time. I’m often told when demanding such proof that nothing works with almost every child every time. Point taken.  So SoR folks need to admit there are children who need something other than systematic synthetic phonics instruction to succeed. The needs of such children need to be addressed.  In my almost 50 years of teaching, I’ve encountered many such children (and successfully provided the needed alternative instruction).

COMING UP:  So far, I’ve only reported and reflected on what P.D. Pearson said.  In my upcoming blog entries, I will be talking about the ramifications of what was said by the rest of the panel. I will also explore the notion that, given the right conditions, we might be able to start a dialogue rather than a debate around these literacy issues. This fits in with Pearson’s idea of bringing everyone to the table. For readers unfamiliar with my call for a Reading Evolution #readingevolution1, here is a link to the blog where I first proposed that idea: https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/03/16/a-call-for-a-reading-evolution-no-its-not-typo-i-mean-evolution-by-dr-sam-bommarito/

 

Until next week, Happy Reading and Writing

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito

P.S. I want to give a GIANT shout out to the ILA for making this session (and many others) available on a live feed. I’ve been an ILA member since 1985 (back then it was called the IRA). I’ve been to many of the conventions, even presented at some, but I was unable to attend this one. Live streaming made it possible for me and others like me to see this event first-hand. So, THANK YOU ILA. I hope this becomes a permanent feature of future conventions. I also want to remind readers that while I am a member and an officer in my state’s ILA, the views expressed in the blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the ILA or any other group. See my disclaimer below.

Copyright 2019 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The teaching of reading as both science and art a report/evaluation of Rasinki’s presentation in St Louis by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Today’s blog is a repost of a blog from 2018. In it, I describe the ideas of Dr. Tim Rasinski around the whole issue of what research in reading should look like. In light of the historic ILA session about the research in reading about to happen this weekend, I thought it would be good to remind my readers that there are well-founded points of view about the teaching of reading that include the thought that it is both an art and a science. I found Rasinski’s ideas and actions around this thought well developed and useful. I’m using them with great success in my weekly push in’s in the school where I currently volunteer (see my blog from last week for details). Kids and teachers alike love to do the daily repeated readings and the periodic performance of those readings.  I’m rather sure the end result this year will be kids who read like storytellers. This, in turn, will lead to kids who also become lifelong readers because of the love of reading fostered by these practices. All this is a direct result of teaching reading as both an art and a science. It is a practice I highly recommend.

Dr. Sam Bommarito, Oct 10, 2019

Capture

The above quote from Diane Ravitch is taken from the Rasinski’s presentation in St. Louis at our local ILA’s spring banquet. Last week I promised to tell you more about it.  Here goes! As I proceed, I will try to make it clear which part of what is said is Rasinski’s and which parts are my reactions or comments on what he said. As you could tell from my remarks last week I found his presentation to be enlightening, empowering and encouraging.

During his presentation, Rasinski made it clear that the teaching of reading is, and should be, a science.  He gave many details about this. However, he also feels the teaching of reading is also an art and that there are many benefits to treating it as an art as well as a science. Let’s talk about why he feels that way.

Great Minds

As illustrated by his slide about Albert Einstein, he talked about the many great minds over the years who recognized the importance of art. Others he mentioned included the Dalai Lama and Steve Jobs

Rasinski maintains that treating the teaching of reading as art can raise the level of performance of students. Look at his take on Bloom’s Taxonomy:

Going Beyond Evaluate

My take on this rendition of Blooms is that when you use an approach to the teaching of reading that is based on both art and science, you raise the level of student performance.  When students are allowed the time to create things of their own, they are going beyond what they already know (Rasinski’s words).  They are adding new things to the base of human knowledge. In short, they are performing at a higher level than before.

There are unintended consequences to the “All Science” approach to reading.  Rasinski shared the example of what it’s like to read a decodable text about the “ag” family.  He used the decodable book, Mr. Zag. Rasinski asked, is this science?  His answer was yes. Is it art? His answer was no. Is it engaging? My answer is no. As I thought about this example, it becomes apparent there while the text was read; it’s content was at the very lowest levels of blooms (e.g. Mr. Zag saw a bag with a tag). The text did not require the student to perform at a high level.  It did not require students to think except at the very lowest levels of Blooms.  I anticipated that his next few slides would show us examples of ways to accomplish the very same task (teach the ag family) but do it in an artful way- a way that would engage students and require them to perform at a high level of thinking.  That is exactly what he did. Poetry was involved.

This brings us to the centerpiece of his presentation, his new book, which is entitled the Megabook of Fluency. The book is exactly that. It is organized around his prosody factors (EARS). E is for Expression, A is for Automatic Word Recognition, R is for Rhythm, and Phrasing and S is for smoothness, fixing mistakes. Rubrics based on these factors are available in the book and are written on a variety of levels including one for 6-8.  So, this book isn’t just for the primary grades; it’s content and suggestions include ideas and activities for all grade levels PP-8.  For a list of all the strategies in the book organized by EARS skills, the reader can go to https://www.scholastic.com/pro/TheMegabookOfFluency.html.

This link is for people who own the book. You can use information from the book to get the password for this link.

It was in this part of the presentation that Rasinski told the story I mentioned last week. It was the story of a new primary teacher who used the strategy of having children practice reading poetry for four days of the week in preparation for performing those poems on Friday.  Despite push back about “wasting” instructional time, she continued to do that. By the end of the year, her first grades were performing significantly higher on reading tests. She replicated those results the next year and became the teacher of the year for her state. The book gave several more examples of other teachers in other grade levels having similar success.

By now, my readers can guess the book contains a treasure trove of ideas and resources. There are many activities that take advantage of original sources, including a variety of songs like It’s a Grand Old Flag, primary source texts like Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, poems like Paul Revere’s Ride, and of course children’s nursery rhymes.  I mentioned those nursery rhymes last on purpose. That is because I want to emphasize that this book is not just for primary students.  Students in the middle grades can also benefit from instruction in prosody. Rasinski asked what would happen if we had students practice and then perform such historic and artful texts? I think part of what would happen is that through use of primary sources teachers would include both science and social studies content within their literacy block. This, in turn, would enhance both their literacy scores and their science and social studies scores.  The book also includes materials on how to teach comprehension artfully.  Based on the examples Tim gave during the presentation, this is done with materials that students would find engaging.  It would be done in a way that allows students to perform at the highest levels of Blooms.

As I just indicated, the activities in his book are not just about helping students get better at decoding. Remember last week when I said that during parts of the presentation, I felt like I was in a seminar on writing workshop? That is because Rasinski talked about how students used some of the poems and primary source pieces as a source of inspiration for writing their own works. He showed examples of student writing. Hmm. Students writing their own poetry, scaffolded by reading poems from this book or other sources.  What a great idea for poetry month! Might I ask on what performance level students would be working? That would be the level that comes after Bloom’s evaluation level, creating! Ideas for poetry lessons based on Tim’s book can be found at POETRY LESSON PDF

Ok, is all this real science? Rasinski makes a case that it is. Look at his example, summarizing the impact of deep repeated reading:

Deep Repeated Reading

Example A demonstrates that performance improved over several rereads. Notice the big red arrows when doing the next set of rereads (B) and yet another set of rereads (C). They are there to call your attention to the fact that the improved performance with the first set (A), results in the reader starting on the second set at a higher level, and this phenomenon is repeated on the third set. That means the skills gained in the first performance carried over to future performances. Rasinski says that’s science! I concur.

Rasinski also says that repeated reading is more effective when done for authentic purposes.  His book gives you many pieces of authentic reading materials and many authentic reasons for rereading (e.g., rereading to prepare for a performance). My experience with his materials over the years is that his materials work, and they are engaging to the students.

That concludes what I have to say about Rasinski’s presentation. Stay tuned. Next week there will be a blog post over the next part of this topic. I’m using the title “Singing Our Way into Fluency.”  Eric Litwin: Best-selling author of the original four Pete the Cat books, The Nuts, and Groovy Joe. will share his views on using music with beginning readers. So please come back next week as we continue our discussion.

For more information about Tim and his various visit his website http://www.timrasinski.com/.  BTW- the blog on his website includes free versions of his famous Word Ladders.

 

Also, check out his articles in professional journals:

Fluency

 

Reading Teacher

Happy Reading and Writing!

Copyright 2018/2019 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Includes the use of the title Singing Our Way into Fluency. 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.