Monthly Archives: August 2018

The call for a reading evolution part two: And yes, I still mean evolution not revolution By Doctor Sam Bommarito

Call-to-action-with-words public domain from conidissdence.blogspot.com

The call for a reading evolution part two: And yes, I still mean evolution not revolution

By Doctor Sam Bommarito

After almost 50 years in the field of education, and almost 40 years focusing on literacy education I am quite tired of the ever-swinging pendulum.  Among the top items on my bucket list is to do what I can to help bring the pendulum to rest in the middle, where I think it should have been on along. Big task, not a lot of time left. One of the things that must happen for this dream to come true is the Great Debate in reading needs to become the Great Dialogue in reading. The two sides need to stop arguing and start problem solving.

I’ve given my view of who the two sides are before. However, many of my new readers may not have seen it. On the one hand are the “phonics cures all folks”. They are strong advocates of synthetic phonics. Philosophically they are empiricists and favor direct instruction for all, all of the time.  On the other hand, there are the discovery learning folks. Philosophically they are constructivists. They favor teaching as needed analytic phonics. They favor inquiry learning. I often find myself being a kindred spirit with them.  I feel these two points of view have been around for quite some time. Think Aristotle and Socrates. I expect both points of view will be here long after all of us are gone.  I’d love to see some great thinker unify the two points of view into one consolidated theory of learning. I don’t see that happening any time soon, certainly not in time to fulfill my bucket list wish. Based on research- which side should prevail?

Let’s look at one of the most contentious of the issues the two sides deal with that of phonics- when and how phonics should be taught.  My view is that research demonstrates both sides are correct. It also demonstrates both sides are incorrect.  How can that be? This is explained in detail in the blog post Bill Kerns and I did (https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/07/27/the-reading-wars-circa-2018-why-is-the-pendulum-still-swinging-and-how-can-we-stop-it-by-dr-sam-bommarito-with-commentary-by-dr-william-kerns/.)  The upshot of it is this: Synthetic phonics helps most but not all readers.  Many readers for whom synthetic phonics fails to do the job can be helped with analytic phonics or other forms of phonics instruction.  I think we are perfectly capable of designing educational programs that take all this into account. I’ve talked about what they might look like in previous blogs.

Here is the heart of the matter. We need to have a reading evolution. When something fails to work for every child stop jumping on to something brand new to replace the “failed practice”. In point of fact, the “failed practice” is often working for most, just not for all. Instead we need to learn to tweak things. My notion is this.  The best level for program adoptions in not at the national one size fits all level. The best level is with local school districts who know their kids best. They need to adopt as good a balanced literacy program as they can find. Good means it fits their kids.  Good means that it succeeds for most kids (90-95%).  Then include RTI for the kids for whom the main program isn’t working (read Mary Howards stuff, she has some great ideas around this).  If some aspects of the program aren’t working, then tweak them. A specific for instance- recent research is indicating that using small group instruction hasn’t worked the way we wanted- especially in the poorest school. Burkins and Yaris recently published ideas on how we can change how we use our time in guided reading. They talk about how we can teach in a way that leaves more work for the kids leading to more growth for the kids. Their book provides a pretty good blueprint on how to tweak guided reading/reading workshop. Don’t replace things, fix things. Do it at a local level. What works in one district might not work in others.

Most important in all this is call a “truce” in the reading wars. Each side needs to admit their practices have limits and limitations.  Synthetic phonics has been adopted nationwide in England. Yet there are some children that fail to thrive. I strongly suspect those many of those children would thrive if teachers were taught alternative methods of teaching phonics, including analytic phonics, and allowed to use that knowledge with selected children. Advocates of analytic phonics need to address the fact that adopting such a program for all children often results in many children having large gaps in the knowledge about phonics. Phonics programs really do need to be systematic.

Some children really do learn to read no matter what methods we use.  Others need aspects of one approach or the other to succeed. Both sides have got to agree to stop insisting that all teaching be done with their methods and only their methods. Both sides need to agree when their favorite methods aren’t working for all kids, that teachers should be allowed (and encouraged!) to use methods from the other sides.  Specifically, teachers need to be taught about all the ways to teach phonics. Districts need to adopt programs that seem to fit their population the best. Whichever emphasis the final adoption might take, practices from “the other side” should be allowed and encouraged for the selected students who need them.

In the next few weeks I’ll be exploring what a reading evolution might look like.  I’ll be inviting reader comments. I’m asking that advocates of each side be respectful of the points of view of the other.  Let’s give this a try. Let’s tweak things instead of replacing them. Let’s start the Great Reading Dialogue.  Let’s have a Reading Evolution!

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito (a.k.a, person with a bucket list and a dream)

ABOUT THE BLOG- The response to the blogs around Reading Recovery have been amazing- over 4000 readers in the past few weeks. It will be a while before I publish a blog that deals directly with RR so I would encourage readers who found their way to this post through the RR Facebook page to please follow the blog.  I think you will enjoy the future discussions of what I hope will become a reading evolution.

 

Copyright 2018 by Sam Bommarito who is solely responsible for its content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I Learned from Reading Recovery and How It Helped to Inform my Classroom Practices by Dr. Sam Bommarito

What I Learned from Reading Recovery and How It Helped to Inform my Classroom Practices

by Dr. Sam Bommarito

I’ll begin by saying what this blog entry is not about.  It’s not about trying to move Reading Recovery practices directly into the classroom or to create some pseudo Reading Recovery program. As I said in an earlier blog if you want Reading Recovery like results, then get your teachers trained by certified RR trainers and implement RR with fidelity. This blog entry is about following the advice I received at my very first RR conference. Before trying to move any Reading Recovery practice into the classroom, first visit the theory behind the practice and then adapt the practice classroom setting.

Like Dr. Mary Howard and many others, I mark my career in two parts, how I taught before my recovery training and how I teach now. What now follows are reflections on some of the most important takeaways I have from RR. They are things have helped me become a better teacher and a better teacher of teachers.

Takeaway one- I learned to be a kid watcher and to make effective use of my knowledge of the three cuing systems. Fit the program to the child, not the other way round.

Yetta Goodman coined the term kid watcher and laid the foundations for the science of miscue analysis. Her initial observation was simple but profound.  You can’t read a child’s mind. So, you can’t directly see how a child is thinking and problem solving as they read. You can however observe the child’s actions as they read.  By seeing what the child is trying (or not trying) as they problem solve their words you can get a sense of what strategies the child is (or is not) using as they read.  Quite a number of years ago at a Mid Missouri TAWL conference, Yetta reported that Marie Clay and her husband Ken Goodman concurrently came up with the idea of using the three cueing systems. Ken used the names given to the three cueing systems by his chosen field of linguistics. They were Semantic, Syntactic and Grapho-phonemic. Concurrently Marie Clay began looking at what I think are the very same three cueing systems naming them Meaning, Structural, and Visual. Both Clay and Goodman used the notion of miscue analysis.  By looking at what cueing system the child was using when making an “error”, one can tell which (if any) of the three cueing systems the child was using. So, for Clay and Goodman, errors were not really errors at all. They were attempts to use the cueing systems that misfired. Hence the name miscue.

By systematically recording which cueing system (if any) the child was using when their attempt misfired (miscue), teachers can glean a lot of information on what the child is attempting to do as they problem solve their words. Teachers can also tell whether the child is crosschecking, i.e. using more than one of the cueing systems at the same time.  Suddenly teachers could know what the child was thinking as they problem solved their words. By careful observation and record keeping (especially the use of running records) teachers can get ideas on what the child needs to learn to make a balanced use of all three cueing systems. Our field abounds with excellent sources on how to make use of this incredibly valuable information.  It seems to me that by using this information teachers can become mind readers after all!!

Takeaway two- I learned how to prompt and most importantly learn how to prompt near point of error.

F & P and Calkins have written extensively about prompting. F & P even have charts and apps to help the teacher to know what to say.  Key prompts for problem solving words would include- Does that look right? (does it look like the word you just said), Does it sound right? (is that syntactically correct, is that the way we usually talk), Does it make sense? (does what you just said make sense, fit how the story is going?). Prompting to crosscheck includes calling attention to the cues not used. For instance, if a child says a word that fit the picture but did not fit the letters in the word you might say “What you said makes sense, but does it start with the right letter? What word would also make sense but start with this letter <point to the letter, maybe even say the letter sound>.  There are a host of other ways to prompt, including prompts to help comprehension, but right now I’m focusing on prompts for problem solving words.

It is crucial that prompts be done NEAR point of error, not AT point of error. That means waiting. Wait to see if the child self corrects on their own.  That means, when possible, you must allow the child to read past the error. Praise the child if they spontaneously correct the error (I like the way you fixed that!!!) Early in my training I learned that encouraging self-correction is GOLD.  For many children, when they start self-correcting, that is the turning point in their ability to read and to learn new words from when the read.  That is why determining self-correction rate is one of the things we include on the running record form.

There is a major problem in using prompting routinely in the classroom.  It is best used one on one. It is best used in that teachable moment when a child makes a miscue. How can one have a significant number of such moments in a regular classroom setting?  One answer I learned that increases the number of those teachable moments is to use staggered starts when doing small group reading. Here is how that works. Do your usual introduction/teaching point in your small group. Then announce that today we are using staggered starts in this group. The first time you use staggered starts you will have to take extra time to explain it. After using it a couple of time, most groups learn what is involved. DON’T OVER USE IT. Use it when you need more teachable moments in selected small groups. These are the groups whose members included children that need more work on problem solving their words. Here are the steps:

  1. Each child learns they are not to start reading until you say. When they read, they are to read aloud in a whisper voice. I have them use whisper readers (see picture). I sometimes face them in different directions. Both these teaching moves are designed to lessen the effect of having everyone read at once.

Whisper Read Phones Free to Use Image

  1. Let the children know that once everyone is reading you will come around to work with some students individually. Let them know that EVENTUALLY everyone will get a turn, but it might take more than one session to do that. Also let them know that if the finish the story they are to IMMEDIATELY start from the start and read it again (and again, and again). They don’t stop reading until you say.
  2. Once all the children in the group are reading (I recommend using a group of 3-5), you are then free to circulate and sit in with selected children. I usually don’t do every child every time. BTY, besides getting in my chance to prompt with selected student, I sometimes use this same technique to get in a teaching conference with selected students. DON’T OVERUSE THIS, but it can be handy in a pinch!
  3. BOOK SELECTION IS CRITICAL FOR THIS TO WORK. Pick an instructional level text where the students are likely to make several miscues.  If there is a sound you are especially concerned with, pick a text that uses that sound a lot.  I use both predictable and decodable books during such lessons.
  4. You can stop circulating any time after you are sure that every student has been through the story at least once.
  5. Once you say stop, continue with the lesson as usual.

I’ll say this one more time. DON’T OVERUSE THIS. Use it when you genuinely need to do some one-on- one-word work with selected students who are having exceptional difficulty with problem solving their words.

Take away three- I learned to help kids write their way into reading. Doing the Elkonin boxes and writing short phrases was a powerful part of my recovery lessons. The general principal here is to sometimes let the kids write using the high frequency words they need to know. I currently use Rasinski’s Fry List phrases http://www.timrasinski.com/presentations/fry_600_instant_phrases.pdf. I ask them to copy a phrase and then write more about it.  I also do whole group story writing where I have selected Fry list words (or Dolch list words) posted on a chart and then and ask them to join me writing something using as many of those words as possible. This can be followed by them writing stories on their own, again trying to use some of the high frequency words in the story. This is not the only writing the kids do, but it is writing that helps build their sight word knowledge.

Takeaway four– I learned the value of observation as a part of ongoing assessment.  I think that today we over test and underteach. Constant summative assessments take away from teaching time. They can become counterproductive. Think about it. If you spend most of your time doing summative assessments eventually what you will find is that since you have not taken the time to teach something new, your students are not growing as readers (or writers). Now that I’ve had my chance to vent a little, lets be clear that assessment is necessary.  As a recovery teacher I learned that authentic ongoing assessment can be a very powerful tool. There are “assessments” that are not paper and pencil tests. They are instead rooted in careful and systematic observations.

I was brought into the world of workshop teaching, kicking and screaming. At first, I thought it would turn out to be a waste of time. Found out instead it was a way to become the ultimate kid watcher. It led to my learning to do systematic observations that became defacto ongoing assessments. It has become second nature to my teaching. F & P, Calkins, and Serravallo all have written extensively about how to systematically gather information about your students and to use that information to inform your teaching in a workshop setting. RR was my first experience in doing this. It made me more open and understanding about doing this when I did my workshop training.

There are many other takeaways from RR, takeaways I had as a teacher that I adapted into classroom use. I just gave my top four. I would love to hear from other RR teachers about their takeaways from RR, and how what they learned help to improve their classroom teaching. Please do chime in and make some comments!

So, until next week this is Dr. B. signing off,

 

Happy Reading and Writing

 

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito, (a.k.a., the Kidwatcher)

Copyright 2018 by Dr. Sam Bommarito who is solely responsible for it’s content

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running Records 101: The History & How to Score, Code, & Analyze

Thought this post makes a nice addition to my blog’s ongoing discussion of Reading Recovery. Thanks to Literacy Pages for making it available to reblog. Readers looking for the “Thanks to Reading Recovery Teachers” blog entry will find it is the next one down from this reblog.

Literacy Pages

Learning how to code errors and self-corrections, learning the formulas to calculate the accuracy and self-correction rates and learning how to analyze errors and self-corrections are all a part of running records.  The plethora of running record information available on the Internet can be overwhelming to sift.  The inconsistencies between the information provided by different sources can make it confusing to know which information is accurate.  In this post, I would like to make your search less overwhelming and confusing by providing you with accurate credible information on running records gathered from reliable resources.

It is important for teachers to be well trained in administering a running record with integrity to keep the tool a reliable and valid measure (Kaye & VanDyke, p. 7).  Two important parts to running record training are learning how to “take quality running records” and learning theory that supports teachers with interpreting behaviors using a…

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A Message to Reading Recovery Teachers Everywhere: Well Done! By Dr. Sam Bommarito

The response to last week’s post about Reading Recovery was overwhelming. It set all time personal records on both my Twitter and WordPress accounts. Over 6000 impressions in one day on Twitter. Over 1182 people came to read my latest post on WordPress. The message was from the readers was clear. My readers LOVE Reading Recovery and found that it forever changed their lives as teachers. That change was very much for the better. I’m turning the rest of this blog over to my readers, so you can hear all the wonderful things they had to say about Reading Recovery   So…, for my friends on the RR site, know that what you do works, that it is appreciated and that it helps you become better teachers so that you in turn can help the kids.  This is my thought for you as you start the new year:

Well done!

Here is my “summary of findings” based on what RR teachers had to say:

New Part One

New Part THREE

New Part TWO

Finally- In the original article, I reported on research demonstrating that reading recovery is the most successful early learning program around. It results in improved student performance in both decoding and comprehension.  To cap things off, here is one more piece of evidence provided by fellow a fellow blogger, Rhonda from Literacy Pages. Thanks to her for letting me repost her remark.  The remarks are on a screen capture so link she gives doesn’t work, but I’ve provided a working version of that link at the end of the blog.

New Part FOUR

EPILOGUE: I’ve been posting my blog entries on the Reading Recovery Facebook site.  That is because the last few blogs have been surrounding RR teachers and what they do. The blog will now be turning to more general literacy topics that focus about finding common ground, good literacy practices and growing lifelong readers.   Should I ever have a blog post that directly relates to RR I’ll definitely post that on the RR Facebook site again. I will of course continue to read the RR Facebook site and make comments outside of my blog entries.  Remember that it was a comment by a RR teacher on the RR Facebook page that got the ball rolling on this project. THANKS to all the visitors to the blog (over a thousand in the past couple of weeks). I would love to have some of you follow the blog and join in our ongoing literacy discussions.  So to see future posts please do subscribe to this blog. I promise you that Bill Kerns and I still have lots more to say about literacy and helping children become lifelong readers.

Happy Reading and Writing

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito (so grateful that he become a Reading Recovery teacher)

The link from the Literacy Pages blog 

http://www.cpre.org/sites/default/files/reading_recovery_final_report.pdf

Special Thanks to Rhonda at Literary Pages for use of her remark and for providing the link.

Special Thanks to Dr. Mary Howard for her encouragement in this project and for taking up this topic on her facebook page.

Special thanks to all who posted on facebook and twitter about my original blog on Reading Recovery. 

And a very Special thanks to all the teachers currently implementing Reading Recovery.  You are changing the world one kid at a time. And that is exactly how it should be!

Copyright 2018 by Dr. Sam Bommarito, who is solely responsible for it’s content

 

 

Why I Like Reading Recovery and What We Can Learn From It by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Why I Like Reading Recovery and What We Can Learn From It by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Eric Litwin asked about Reading Recovery, what is it, how is it implemented, is it effective? As many of you know I am a former Reading Recovery teacher. I can sum up my opinion about Reading Recovery in three words: It REALLY works.  Why do I say this?

First of all, let’s look at the research past and present.  Back in 2007 an extensive review of programs by the federal governments What Works Clearinghouse found that Reading Recovery was the only intervention that made a significant difference in reading achievement for young children.  A current search of the IES>WWC website finds only three early learning studies that met their standards of review https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/EvidenceSnapshot/420 . Reading Recovery is the most successful of those three programs. Readers can follow the preceding link to go to IES>WWC’s Evidence Snapshop Page. There is a link there to download the full intervention report.

Here is a screen capture of that page:

WWC Screen Capture

 

Many times, early literacy programs help in areas related to decoding (alphabetic, reading fluency), but fail to impact comprehension and achievement.  I want to call your attention to is that RR had significant improvement index scores in all four areas, including comprehension and achievement.  I know of no other early literacy intervention that can make that claim. So, as I said at the outset, Reading Recovery REALLY works.

Eric also wanted to know my opinion of why it works and what we can learn from it. I believe the key to why it works is that Reading Recovery follows the principle of making the program fit the child not the other way round.  RR teachers are first and foremost kid watchers.  As a RR teacher I noticed what the child was doing. One example is that I looked for self-corrections. My own experience is that when the child begins to self-correct, the effect of everything else in the program begins to become cumulative.  If the child is reading materials in their ZPD, each time they read they are effectively teaching themselves new words and understandings. One of the reasons I gave such an impassioned defense of the use of the three-cueing system (last week’s blog entry), is that as I planned my program for each student back in the day,  I was always encouraging cross-checking and use of all the cues. My prompts NEAR POINT OF ERROR would include things like “Say the first sound think of the clues”, “what word starts with that sound and makes sense”, “I like the way the word you just said makes sense, but it doesn’t start with this sound. Can you think of another word that makes sense and starts with this sound?” RR teachers are totally familiar with the concept of ongoing assessment. Their kid watching forms the basis for informing all their instruction.

Eric also wanted to know how important it is to do Reading Recovery individually. My answer is VERY. I’ll go one step further.  If you want results like the ones listed in the WWC reports, then you need to implement RR using trainers certified to carry out the training.  Mark Twain once said, the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightening bug. Point taken.  I know some administrators view RR and the associated training as too expensive. However, when one factors in the fact that most RR students who complete the program never need any further interventions, then the cost benefit results look much better. Also, while most RR teachers only service 4 students the first semester, many service more the second semester because the “late starts” are usually a little further along than their first semester counterparts. This leads to more than 4 students cycling through the program second semester.  I know of places where recovery teachers serviced 10-16 students each year. So, I view RR as cost effective.  Is there anything from RR that can be transferred over to the main program?

I’ll start by saying, RR is designed for students for whom the regular literacy program is unlikely to work. It is at least a Tier 2, or Tier 3 intervention. But it is a program rich with effective literacy practices. I want to share something I learned at my very first RR convention.  Before trying to transfer RR practices to the classroom, first revisit the practice and look at the learning principles behind the practice. Then adapt the practice and how it is implemented to the classroom. That advice has proven very useful over the years.

When I was looking over research about RR when I was first trained I found out that in America, it took almost twice the number of lessons than in other countries to get students released. My take on that was that we need to look at practices in those other countries, which tend to not use basals but instead use child center literacy-based approaches, in order to improve our own practices.  When I stopped being an RR teacher and started being a push in Title One staff developer, I found myself doing exactly what was suggested at that first conference. Look at practices and then adapt those practices to the classroom. They formed the basis of much of what I modeled for my classroom teachers. I will save talking about the practices I transferred until after Bill Kerns and I put together our proposal for a preconference workshop at the early learning conference scheduled for St. Louis in November (http://www.missouriearlylearning.com/). There we hope to share some of those effective practices.  For now, know that first among those practices is learning to prompt NEAR point of error, not at point of error. Classroom teachers can use a technique called “staggered start”. Using “staggered start” they can then prompt near point of error for all the children their guided reading groups. If I’ve peeked your interest, please do follow the blog. I promise a blog entry on all these practices as soon as Bill and I get the proposal written. That will be well in advance of the conference.

So, Eric, first thanks for carrying on this conversation and especially thanks for your great questions.  Yes RR works. Look at the description from WWC in order to see what it involves. Teachers who implement it should learn how to do it as it was intended. If you want to borrow it’s practices, first visit the theory behind practices in RR and then adapt those practices that might help your children into the your main program.  So, until next week…

 

Happy Reading & Writing

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito (once an RR teacher, always an RR teacher)

Here is a link to the IES>WWC site set to filter all literacy programs not just early literacy programs:

https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/FWW/Results?filters=,Literacy

 

Copyright 2018 by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Opinions are my own , I am responsible for their content

Yes, Virginia There Really are Three Cueing Systems (AND it pays to help student to balance their use of the three cues and to crosscheck them). By Dr Sam Bommarito & commentary by Dr. William Kerns

Better 3 cues

Yes, Virginia There Really are Three Cueing Systems

(AND it pays to help student to balance their use of the three cues and to crosscheck them).

By Dr Sam Bommarito

 

(Also see commentary by Dr. William Kerns at then end of the blog- as always Bill has some great insights!)

I’m betting my readers can decode the following message, using a combination of meaning cues, syntactic cues and letter cues (RR teachers call them visual cues). Know that all the vowels are missing from my message. They are each replaced with “-“.

=============================================================

D–r r.-s–rch-rs,

 

Th- r–d-rs o- my bl-g c-n r–d th-s w-th–t th- v-w-ls m-ss-ng. I th-nk th-y -r- us-ng th- thr– c—s t- h-lp th-m d-c-d- th-s m-ss-g-. Cl-y r-c-mm-nds w- t—ch cr-ssch-ck-ing. C-nt-xt pl-s th- f-rst s–nd.=  cr-ssch-ck-ng.

=============================================================

BTW- one of the important takeaways of the above passage is that consonants give more information than vowels.  That’s something I learned a long time ago in the pre-reading wars days. This fact is educationally significant. You should be aware that there are some K-1 readers who are unable to discern the vowel sounds. They are sometimes in second grade or beyond before they can hear them/say them. They still learn to read.  I think the three cueing systems help to explain how. It also explains why, while I do advocate the use of synthetic phonics, I also advocate that the synthetic phonics instruction be supplemented with an analytic phonics approach. For an example of researchers saying there is no reason to teach the 3 Cueing System see

https://www.nifdi.org/resources/news/hempenstall-blog/402-the-three-cueing-system-in-reading-will-it-ever-go-away

Overall, I hope figuring out my message (minus all the vowels!) convinces my readers of this blog to look a little more carefully about how readers decode. I’ll start with the thought that by and large the readers of this blog are highly proficient. Yet you DID use all three cueing systems to read my message. The critics claim only poor readers use them.  My very good friend Eric Litwin proposed a way to decide what reading practices are really best practices. He says ” I am coming to the position that we must use three perspectives and each one helps us understand what could be a best practice. One, is it supported by research? Two is it supported by classroom experience. Three, does it make sense (common sense)?”
For me, classroom experience and common sense dictate that we should use our knowledge of the three cueing systems to scaffold all readers (not just “poor” readers) into literacy. Researchers critical of using the three cueing systems need to revisit the question of the three cueing systems and look carefully at the role of cross-checking.  When students learn to crosscheck “wild guesses” become “educated guesses”.  This is ONE of the methods MOST readers use to decode what they read. IT IS NOT THE ONLY METHOD. I view it as an example of analytic phonics.  But in some places, it has become the forbidden method.  That fact is hurting some children on a daily basis.

This is a chant I often use with the children to encourage crosschecking:

“Say the first sound, think of the clues, then you’ll know all the words to use. Say the first sound, say the first sound, say the first sound.”

By the way notice that I said “say the first sound” not the first letter. Example:

The clue is I saw it in the sky.

First sound is “s”, what word?

First sound is “st”, what word?

The first answer is sun.

The second answer is star.

Both answers come from educated guessing i.e. using visual cues (letter clues) plus meaning cues to arrive at the correct word. My point here is that it is important to teach the students about the SOUNDS of consonant blends and consonant diagraphs. Also notice how crosschecking can usually overcome most of the limitations of guessing words from their first sound.

So, I really do think the three cueing systems exist. Speech pathologists have been basing instruction on them for years! In my own head I often think of readers as falling into decoding continuum that is as follows:

CONTINIUM

To be in the center of that decoding continuum, readers should learn to use all three of the cueing systems and crosscheck them.

Readers- your thoughts, opinions and concerns.

Dr. Sam Bommarito aka creator of educated guessers

Thanks to Eric Litwin for his input on this issue

 

A Commentary on Scaffolding and Cueing Systems

By Dr. William Kerns

Sam Bommarito’s blog this week is a valuable reminder of the importance of helping readers make use of grapho-phonic (visual and sound), syntactic (sentence structure) and semantic (meaning) cueing systems in order to improve their understanding of increasingly complex texts. In this commentary, I build on the following point made by Sam within the blog: “We should use our knowledge of the three cueing systems to scaffold all readers (not just “poor” readers) into literacy.” Instructional scaffolding should promote engagement and challenge.

Instructional scaffolding is rooted in the work of Wood, Bruner and Ross (1976) who understood scaffolding as a “process that enables a child or novice to solve a problem, carry out a task or achieve a goal which would be beyond his unassisted efforts” (p. 90). Appropriate scaffolding will help a reader to develop increasing skill both within and between cueing systems  while solving problems related to reading tasks and pursuing goals.

Vygotsky’s concept of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) provides a framework for understanding how to use scaffolding in the context of cueing systems. Children who are striving toward increasing independence in the use of cueing systems  rely on scaffolding such as think-alouds by a teacher in order to become more proficient readers. Scaffolding takes place within a ZPD, which is often defined as “the distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem-solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers” (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86).

 

When using instructional scaffolding, teachers should focus on the difference between a reader’s demonstrated performance and their learning potential (Kozulin, 2003). ZPD’s can be said to change as a reader’s skill evolves, so it is critical to carefully track performance in the use of cueing systems.

A possible mistake by teachers is to engage in instructional scaffolding without the use of adequate or ongoing assessment. Assessment should track patterns in students’ use of cueing systems. These patterns may vary with different genres and modes of texts. Patterns may also change over time. Methods of assessing these patterns include conducting a miscue analysis (Davenport, 2002; Goodman, 2008; Goodman & Goodman, 2004), assessment of prior knowledge (Afflerbach, 1998), and running records (Clay, 2017).

Many instructional strategies for scaffolding are available (see Beers & Probst, 2017; Block, 2004; Gallagher & Kittle, 2018; Keene, 2018; McKay & Teale, 2015; Serravallo, 2015). Scaffolding should have as its goal the guiding of students to “complete complex mental tasks they could not complete without assistance” (Pearson & Fielding, 1991, p. 842). Reading aloud (Regan & Berkeley, 2012) and shared reading (Falco & Soloway, 2011; Stahl, 2012)  can open the door for a teacher to engage in a think-aloud as a form of instructional scaffolding.

In a think aloud, the teacher can pause while reading to verbally demonstrate the thought process involved in the use one of one or more of the cueing systems (Davey, 1983). Too often, a think-aloud can be passive in which children simply sit at their desks and listen to the teacher engage in a musing about a text. This is not how strategic use of the think-aloud instructional strategy should work. Instead,  the think aloud should be used as a gateway toward involving children in active problem solving and challenges at appropriate levels of difficulty.

Teachers should use think-alouds to help children learn and utilize reading strategies within one or more of the cueing systems that can be useful in varied contexts. In this way, a reading task is broken into manageable parts as a cognitive apprenticeship (Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1990; Dennen, 2004). This can be done through guiding questions and statements that help children see how a skilled reader makes connections to a text, then allowing children to participate in making sense of a text by drawing on a cueing system (Pentimonti & Justice, 2010). The use of cueing systems should increasingly be self-regulated (Zimmerman & Schunk, 2011) by the child.

In sum, I urge instructional scaffolding as part of activities such as shared reading. Teachers can use instructional scaffolding to guide students as they set goals, preview texts, use visual clues in order to make predictions, ask strategic questions and making connections (e.g. text-to-self; text to text, text to world). A goal of a teacher is to help children engage in strategic and reflective thinking in the use of cueing systems to make meaning from a text.

 

References

Afflerbach, P. (1998). Reading assessment and learning to read. In O. Jean and F. Lehr (Eds.), Literacy for all: Issues in teaching and learning (pp. 239–263). New York: The Guilford Press

Beers, K. & Probst, R.E. (2017). Disrupting thinking: Why how we read matters. New York, NY: Scholastic.

Block, C. C. (2004). Teaching comprehension: The comprehension process approach. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Clay, M.M. (2017). Running Records: For classroom teachers (Second Edition). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Collins, A., Brown, J. S., & Newman, S. E. (1990). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the crafts of reading, writing, and mathematics. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning, and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaser (pp. 453–494). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Davenport, M.R. (2002). Miscues not mistakes: Reading assessment in the classroom. Portsmouth: Heinemann Publishers.

Davey, B. (1983). Think aloud—Modeling the cognitive process of reading comprehension. Journal of Reading, 27, 44–47.

Dennen, V. P. (2004). Cognitive apprenticeship in educational practice: Research on scaffolding, mentoring, and coaching as instructional strategies. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (2nd ed., pp. 813–828). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Falco, V., & Soloway, R. (2011). Building independent readers with interactive read-alouds and shared reading: Lessons for modeling comprehension strategies and engaging students in effective guided practice. New York, NY: Scholastic.