Lessons from LitCon and A Call to Action: It’s time for teachers’ voices to be heard. By Dr. Sam Bommarito
I’ve returned early from the LitCon conference. I came to the conference with my daughter & her family and my wife. While I did my presentation, they visited some of the sights of Columbus. This included the Lego Discovery, and the grandkids got makeovers for their American Dolls. We left town early to get the grandkids back to school today. I want to give a HUGE shoutout to the City of Columbus. The folks were friendly and helpful; the transit folks helped a ton in getting us to and from our hotel (many an adventure about that). I was impressed with the propane-powered busses and the bikes available to ride in and around the convention area. Columbus, my whole fam loved you!!!!
Before talking about my presentation and the key messages that I want to deliver, let me give another shout-out. This one is for some of my Twitter friends. This includes one that came from New Zealand to be at our conference. Here is a Twitter post about that from my longtime friend Susan Vincent.
It was amazing to see these folks in person, get to know them as people, and talk to them about the important literacy issues we currently face. I want to report that MANY well-informed teachers carry out many well-thought-out reading practices and that a couple of thousand of them came to Columbus this weekend to share camaraderie and sharpen their skills as practicing teachers. The helpless, hopeless picture of teachers that some social media pundits paint when talking about teachers today most certainly doesn’t fit the teachers I interacted with at LitCon.
Here are some key messages I would like to deliver based on my recent experiences at LitCon:
Message one– What works with one child doesn’t always work with another. We need teachers who can follow the child and adjust their instruction to fit each child. Are you looking for teachers like that? Just come to Columbus for the next LitCon- you’ll find a ton of them!
Message two– The story social media pundits tell is replete with inaccuracies and misdirections. In part, that is because they oversimplify things. They don’t #usealltheresearch. Instead, they weaponize the research, selecting only research that supports their narrow and limited view of the reading process. It’s time to push back hard on the media version of SOR and put ALL the science back into the science of reading.
Message three– No one has all the answers. But, collectively, we do have enough answers to help the kids, which means all the kids. That means talking to each other. We must not let radical bullies prevail in social media conversations. This also means we must follow the research wherever it leads. Sometimes, that will mean dropping cherished practices. It will always mean teaching students to be problem solvers in decoding and comprehension. By the way, if problem solvers are guessers, then all scientists are guessers. If problem solvers aren’t guessers, then we most certainly are not teaching kids to guess when we teach them to problem-solve their words. Either way, the social media pundits claim we teach kids to guess is bogus.
Message four– It is time to create a grassroots teacher-based movement to improve literacy instruction, with our rallying cry being #useallthereasearch. I hope to have deep discussions on that point during my upcoming Pioneer Books Webinar LINK. I’m trying to get some support material ready for that event. Included are both relevant research and getting clear on the kind of information we need to get into the hands of legislators and administrators.
Its’ time to start the Reading Evolution LINK. I hope to see many of you at my upcoming presentations and webinars.
UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR DR. SAM
I will have a busy time in the next month or so. I’ll be interviewing Dr. David Andrews from the School of Education, Durham University and Eric Litwin, well-known children’s author and co-author of the book The Power of Joyful Reading LINK. In addition, I also have upcoming presentations at Write to Learn LINK, Missouri Early Childhood Conference LINK, and I’ll be doing a webinar for Pioneer Books LINK. Busy times!
Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the centrist who, uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching
Copyright 2022 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the author’s view and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.
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I hear what you are saying. Can you be more specific as to what the research is that SOR advocates are ignoring? Thanks! Always looking to learn more!
Part of it is the research around TEACHING reading strategies. Willingham is giving bad advice, and many SOR folks are buying into it. IF you teach comp strag. USING GRADUAL RELEASE, it will not go as quick as Willingham claims. Also, some SOR folks make it sound like BL never worked at all for anybody. There’s a ton of research showing it did work. That is being ignored (or denied) by some SOR folks. The problem is that some kids need more synthetic phonics than many BL folks give. I’m working on trying to get BL folks to make sure that synthetic phonics is there for the kids that need it.