Dr. Michal Taylor talks about her successful intervention with a child struggling in reading- An Interview by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Dr. Michal Taylor talks about her successful intervention with a child struggling in reading- An Interview by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Over the years, I talked to several folks who were struggling in learning to read or were the parents/grandparents of folks who are struggling in reading LINK, LINK, LINK. Their stories provide a rich resource of ideas for teachers looking for ways to help their struggling readers. In this interview, Dr. Michal Taylor talks about her grandson, who was making little or no progress after a year’s worth of phonics first (phonics only?) instruction. Dr. Taylor intervened successfully. For teachers looking to help their struggling readers, the story of how she gained that success is well worth considering. Let’s find out a little about Dr. Taylor and her background. Her background made her uniquely qualified to give her grandson the kind of help he needed. After that, we’ll go right on to what she said during the interview.

BIOGRAPHY (Information was taken from her website)

Here are the timed stamped talking points for the interview (so you can go to the sections that interest you the most first)

Here is a link to the U-Tube Interview:


Dr. Taylor’s Website


Dr. Taylor’s Facebook page


The research shows that Reading Recovery Works.

Donna Scanlon’s research around the use of context.

Dr. Sam’s blog about how to do language experience LINK.

Quote found on Dr. Taylors website:

Final Thoughts:

The information Dr. Taylor provides in the interview is anecdotal. Does such information have any place in our quest to use research-based information to guide our instruction? It does. Review my Oct 17th blog  LINK, where I gave a detailed accounting of the presentation at the 2019 ILA convention entitled What Research Really Says About Teaching Reading- and Why That Still Matters. The issue of how to teach reading is not settled science. As P.D. Pearson has said, the term settled science is an oxymoron. Anecdotal evidence like Dr. Taylor presents here is the foundation of research. Such information guides us in formulating the research questions we ask. In addition to telling us a compelling story, Dr. Taylor also provided evidence that the Reading Recovery-based methods she used to help her grandson have a substantial research base LINK. Language experience and interactive writing also have extensive research behind them.

The clear message from Dr. Taylor’s story is this. What works with one child doesn’t always work with another. When something is tried for a year or more and doesn’t work, it’s time to try other things. The best phonics program for a child is the one that works best for them. I advocate that synthetic phonics is the first thing we should try. But what happens when that doesn’t work for a particular child? Do we just give them more of the same medicine that didn’t work for them? Or do we have other things waiting in the wings to help them? We need to have other things available.

What would happen if lawmakers outlawed all drugs to treat infections except penicillin? There would be a public outcry of tremendous proportion. Yet, as Dr. Taylor alludes to in the interview- that is what is happening currently in the reading world. We’re outlawing things that work for some children. It’s time to rethink that policy. It is time to approach this problem using common sense to find common ground. I think Bruce Howett and Jan Wasowicz are seeking such answers LINK. Maybe it’s time we start listening to the “radical middle.” I’ll have much more to say about this in future blogs.

In the meantime, please consider attending the upcoming Pioneer Valley webinar. We are bringing together a panel of experts who outline other things we can try when the phonics first (phonics only?) approach isn’t helping. Until next week-

Happy Reading and Writing.

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka, the guy in the center taking flak from all sides)

Copyright 2023 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely this author’s views and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

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


Join us on November 9 at 4 pm EST for a free webinar! Register today for Transformative Teaching Strategies, moderated by Dr. Sam Bommarito with panelists Tim Rasinski, Kathy Roe, and Penny Slater.  

In this special session, Dr. Sam Bommarito will bring together an exciting panel of literacy experts to discuss strategies for improving student reading comprehension, fluency, accuracy, and reading stamina. Bestselling author and fluency scholar Tim Rasinski will share some important research on fluency. Penny Slater and Kathy Roe will show how they have used Tim’s research to develop a Reading Fluency Project in the UK that has led to struggling readers achieving more than 1.5 years of growth in comprehension/fluency in just eight weeks of small-group instruction. 

Register: pioneervalleybooks.com/webinars\

Let's talk! What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.