Over the past three years, I’ve written a great deal about the issues surrounding the so-called reading wars. One of my mantras during that time has been that we should fit the program to the child, not the other way around. My new friend Paul Thomas gave me the idea for another goal. That goal is to give the student what they need LINK. We’ll both have more to say about that at our upcoming sessions at LitCon LINK.
At the end of the day, what students need most are informed, empowered teachers who are given the freedom to carry out literacy instruction that best fits each particular child. This is especially critical in Tier 2 and Tier 3 instruction. There is long-standing research supporting this approach. One example is the First Grade Studies. It has been over 50 years since the First Grade Studies established the fact that teachers matter more than programs. Good teachers tend to get good results. See page 5 of the ILA position paper on Reading Difficulties for more details. LINK. That same position paper details what appropriate literacy instruction looks like: Here is a screen capture from pages 4 and 5 of that document.
This week, I attended a webinar given by Debra Crouch and Brian Cambourne about Cambourne’s model of learning. Cambourne created the model based on years of structured observations designed to uncover what makes for effective teaching. I interviewed Debra and Brian when their new book came out LINK. The book’s title was Made For Learning. It gives the eight conditions of learning and explains how to apply Cambourne’s model to everyday teaching. If the information in the preceding section about appropriate instruction gives us an idea of what the literacy instruction should be, Cambourne’s model gives us ideas on how to carry out that instruction in the most effective ways possible. Here is the model:
During the webinar, Brian explained the workings of the model while Debra provided several videos of her applying the model in actual classroom settings. Among the more compelling pieces was the one where she scaffolded a group of 1st graders into an in-depth discussion of a book entitled Animals in Danger: Orangutans. She did not lead the discussion. She facilitated the discussion. The students were deeply engaged in the task. The expressions on their faces were priceless. They were smiling, and all were actively engaged. This was not at all an accidental outcome. It took careful planning, and Debra was a masterful coach. She shared her secrets of how she was able to help this group carry out the discussion. The book Brian and Debra co-authored gives many such examples of how to teach in a way that uses the eight conditions of learning. It is a perfect example of how theory can and should guide practice, practice which supports change for the better. Here is information about their book.
Here is a link to the website where you can purchase the book LINK.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be interviewing other literacy leaders. I’ll also be talking about some of the free P.D. that the Missouri Literacy Association and the St. Louis Literacy association will be providing. Be sure to visit the MLA website LINK and the MLA Facebook LINK page for the latest information on what is going on and what free P.D. opportunities are available to you.
So, until next week: Happy Reading and Writing
Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the empowered, informed teacher trying to give his students the instruction they need.
Copyright 2021 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.
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