Author Archives: doctorsam7

About doctorsam7

Working with Dr. Kerns from Harris Stowe on several writing and action research projects. Love workshop teaching and teaching about workshop teaching. I have a blog https://doctorsam7.blog, all about Keys to Growing Proficient Lifelong Readers. I am President of the STLILA and Vice President of the MoILA.

Five things that can lead to success in K-2 Literacy: A look at the old and the new (and they are both the same) By Doctor Sam Bommarito

OLD AND NEW creative commons

Five things that can lead to success in K-2 Literacy: A look at the old and the new (and they are both the same)

By Doctor Sam Bommarito

Regular readers may recall my Jan 11th blog post where I talked about the Shanahan/Berger podcast. It was done through Amplify. Folks who signed up for that podcast got a whitepaper from Amplify entitled Five leadership practices that drive success in K-2 literacy. It was written by Krista Curran, SVP and General Manager for Assessment and Invention. It reports on the results of interventions done in 11 schools where “mCLASS data showed exceptional growth in student literacy”. Details of all this can be found in the Amplify document, which was distributed by their website. What caught my eye was their overall conclusions about what “school leaders, teachers and other staff” did to contribute to that success. Here are the 5 things they listed:

Five Leadership Characteristics

While recognizing the limits and limitations of a single study done with a relatively small N, I find the above conclusions intriguing. They reminded me of another project I was involved in a very long time ago. Back in the late 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s and into the early 2000’s I was part of a Title 1 program in a “next to urban” district in St. Louis. As a matter of fact that district bordered on Ferguson. My building was Title 1, sometimes Chapter 1, depended on the year. We were twice given the Secretaries’ Award. That award went to Title 1 programs showing exceptional gains by their students. Winning the award meant the buildings in the district were in the top 1/10 of 1 percent of all Title 1 programs in the nation in terms of improving student’s achievement scores and other factors considered in giving the award. My building always had 90% plus free lunch, the yardstick used by Title 1 to determine what buildings would qualify for Title 1 services. The year I did my dissertation work, the first graders in my building had Gates-MacGinitie reading scores that were one full standard deviation above what one would expect in a building with that free lunch rate. In point of fact, their median score was at or near the 50 %’ile. What we were doing was working and working very well. I would point out that the measure of comprehension we were using measured vocabulary knowledge (about ½ the items) AND comprehension (the other ½), unlike some measures today that measure mainly decoding with some attention given to vocabulary and little or no attention given to directly measuring reading comprehension.

As I think back to the project I participated in and looked at the 5 points listed by this recent report it hit me that the teachers, staff and administration at my building (and the other elementary buildings in the district) were doing all the things mentioned by this recent report. Our tact may have been somewhat different in terms of interventions. We moved from a basal instruction, using a basal well known for it’s strong phonics program, to a guided reading/workshop model, a model that has some critics and doubters. However it REALLY worked for us and did so over a number of years. I always note (tongue in cheek) that the year after I left, my building’s reading scores went down dramatically. What changed was not the fact I left but rather the fact that new leadership came to central office and readopted the basal with the strong phonics program. Over the next few years reading scores went down dramatically. The district took years to recover from that change over. For readers of this blog- when I talk about “word callers” (and some folks take me to task for using the term) I’m talking about children who don’t comprehend because decoding was overstressed and comprehension was virtually ignored in early instruction. I worked with such children for years. I found those children thrived in the workshop environment. In this blog, I’ve often called reading recovery the bumble bee of the literacy world. According to some theories it should not fly at all. Yet it does. Shall I give a similar name to my old Title 1 project? By some theories it shouldn’t have worked at all. Yet in fact in worked better than most of the projects of it’s era.

Two thoughts here. One is that my district’s story serves as allegory for those who would ignore comprehension and focus entirely on decoding in the early grades. Based on my experience that is not a particularly good move for developing great readers (though it may develop great decoders). The other thought is that as folks design literacy programs might do well to look hard at the conclusions of the recently published white paper. I think it outlines ideas that all sides of the current reading debate could live with. As a matter of fact I would predict they would thrive if they used them. So I hope I’ve given my readers some food for thought here.

Next Week I hope do a blog entry on Missouri Reader’s upcoming issue. It on the theme “Poetry- the Game Changer”. The theme comes from an article David Harrison wrote as the anchor piece for the issue. Glenda (my co-editor for the Missouri Reader) and I are presenting the key ideas from this issue on March 1st, at The Missouri Write to Learn Conference held at the Tan Tar Ra resort, Lake of the Ozarks, Mo. Here is a link to the conference: http://www.writetolearnconference.com/

Next week also marks the 1st anniversary of this blog. The blog has had 10,000 readers since starting. WOW! Thanks to all of you who have come to visit over the past year. Please do keep coming!!!

Happy Reader and Writing

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka, protector of bumble bees and other such amazing creatures)

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.

 

 

 

 

Insights into the comprehension process: A reply from my former professor

GUTHRE

I got a rather extensive reply to my last post from a colleague for whom I have the utmost respect. Dr. Rocchio was one of my instructors when I was doing my graduate work at UMSL (University of Missouri-St Louis) in the 1970’s. I took the Content Area Reading Course from him. Later, that was a course that became mine for almost a decade as I taught as an adjunct at UMSL. His teachings in that first course greatly influenced how I handled the teaching of that course and my whole view about literacy instruction in general and literacy instruction for the older reader in particular.

 Please consider carefully what he has to say, it brings some new and interesting insights. It also brings series of 4 questions that I want to address collectively next week.  I want to thank Dan (we’ve been on a first name basis for quite some time) for following the blog and for providing the insightful commentary that follows.

 Dr. Sam (aka, Sam a former student of Dr. Rocchio)

Sam

I really appreciate the thought-provoking article on reading comprehension.  I am glad you included the work of Shanahan, the recent IES summary of research,  https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/PracticeGuide/14 and the work by Miller and Moss (2013).    I would agree with your proposition “that learning to have authentic conversations around various kinds of text is one road that can lead to improving reading comprehension.” In addition, I would agree “that teachers must provide direct instruction, and they must also scaffold students in to learning how to handle various level texts and text structures.”

 

The real difference between the two comprehension models you described seems to lie in the basic framework of literacy instruction.  Shanahan suggests in his blog that most of the literacy instruction should be teacher directed and that literacy instruction should include the direct teaching of the following components for about 120 minutes/daily in grades 1-3:

 

  1. phonics or word analysis strategies (at the early grade levels)
  2. fluency
  3. general reading comprehension strategies focused mostly on the disciplinary structures of text and much of this with grade level text and above grade level text
  4. vocabulary or word knowledge with a focus on key conceptual knowledge
  5. writing instruction

 

I do agree with Shanahan https://shanahanonliteracy.com/blog/the-whys-and-hows-of-research-and-the-teaching-of-reading that we must include the teaching of complex texts that challenge our readers beyond what has been traditionally labeled a reader’s instructional level.

My most recent experience in third grade classrooms supported the close reading of complex text..  I worked with three third-grade teachers and the reading coach in the Lindbergh school district to develop a six-week economics unit that included 110 minutes/day of reading and writing workshop, and twenty-five minutes/day of social studies instruction.  We included the following components:

 

  1. whole group close reading of above grade level texts related to running a business and making a sellable product or service
  2. close reading of complex texts in guided reading groups
  3. teacher modeling of how to gather key ideas from text related to a student’s business plan
  4. followed by student independent searching for appropriate texts
  5. students reading of fiction and non-fiction texts at a variety of reading levels
  6. students writing about their reading ( e.g., developed a business plan)
  7. key vocabulary words were taught directly as they came up during the unit.

All students were highly motivated to develop their business plan and their sellable good or service.  What we learned is that texts used beyond the instructional level of students were made accessible by a combination of teacher read-alouds, shared reading, partner reading along with teacher scaffolding.  Results indicated that students of all reading levels were able to successfully read and write about texts above their reading level.

Some of the perplexing questions that arose from the Lindbergh district action research and the model of reading instruction suggested by Shanahan are these (Sam’s note I will address these questions collectively in my next blog entry):

 

  1. under what conditions is it appropriate to use grade level and above grade level texts in the literacy day for primary, and intermediate level readers?
  2. under what conditions is it appropriate to use instructional level texts with primary and intermediate level readers?
  3. how does this instruction differ for average, above average and struggling readers?
  4. how do teachers scaffold the teaching of disciplinary reading and writing strategies with texts beyond a student’s traditional instructional level?

Pearson’s work ( Research Foundations of the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts( 2013) provides some guidance when he points out that “.integrated approaches have generally outperformed ‘encapsulated’ approaches on a variety of measures.” Pearson’s work on Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading (see this link http://www.scienceandliteracy.org/) suggests the value of applying key comprehension strategies within an integrated literacy/science framework.

Guthrie’s CORI model (see this link:  www.corilearing.com) provides some further guidance about how we might answer the questions above.  In fact, several of the recommendations from the 2010 IES practice guide are drawn from Guthrie’s work.  CORI’s literacy framework includes the following:

  1. an integrated content area/ literacy unit plan
  2. authentic texts at various reading levels
  3. the direct teaching of appropriate comprehension strategies
  4. fluency instruction
  5. writing instruction about the reading of authentic texts
  6. guided reading with various levels of students
  7. flexible supplementary instruction for struggling readers
  8. motivational supports such as student choice and hands-on activities

Allington’s 2015 (Reading Teacher article on Text complexity) notes the following: “…increasing the complexity of the texts used in elementary schools as the best strategy for enhancing reading achievement, as the CCSS authors recommend, lacks a base in the research evidence available.”  In addition, “we need better evidence of instructional scaffolding that might be best used to facilitate just how more complex texts can be used to enhance reading development.

I am an advocate of reading comprehension research that utilizes a comprehensive literacy framework like those developed by Pearson and Guthrie.  This type of research can help teachers understand how to best integrate all key literacy outcomes and content outcomes within a school day.  But the most useful research is that research performed in classrooms where the primary goal is to improve our students’ desire, self-efficacy, and ability to read to solve real world problems related to work, school, and the improvement of one’s community.

I would love to see additional research that follows the models suggested above. So, I hope others will share such work.

 

Thanks for listening.

Dan Rocchio, Ed. D.

Professor Emeritus

Maryville University

Response entry copyright 2019 by Dr. Dan Rocchio

Blog entry 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.

 

Learning to have authentic conversations around various kinds of text: One road that can lead to improving comprehension By Dr. Sam Bommarito

Learning to have authentic conversations around various kinds of text: One road that can lead to improving comprehension

By Dr. Sam Bommarito

A lot has happened this week. I’m still trying to unpack it all and make sense of it. By and large it was a very good week. The events of the week all focused around the topic of comprehension. They’ve lead me to propose the position you find in the title of this piece. Scaffolding students into authentic conversations around text can dramatically improve the student’s comprehension. I’ve drawn this conclusion while looking advocates of what might seem on the surfaced seem to be disparate (maybe polar opposite) views of reading. But surprisingly, listening carefully to what advocates each of these positions has to say about literacy instruction can lead one to support the position I’ve proposed on comprehension. Let’s dive right in, start unpacking, and see what on earth I’m talking about.

The first of the sources I looked at was a live on-line chat between Dr. Timothy Shanahan and Larry Berger CEO of Amplify; Here is a link to a YouTube video of that chat (note the whole wait period of the chat was taped so you have to drag the play line to .28:00 or so to get to the start of the chat)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=uOlVmOXbi4E

THE TALK

The part of the chat that caught my attention was what was said around comprehension. When asked about what strategies to teach and how to teach them, Dr. Shanahan referred me to the following PDF:

WHAT WORKS PDF

Here is a link to this PDF: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED512029.pdf

I found a good explanation of the PDF on the What Works Clearinghouse website:

WHAT WORKS CLEARING HOUSE

The link to the above analysis is: https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/PracticeGuide/14

The upshot of it all is this: Shanahan cites research indicating that a factor analysis of comprehension resource fails to find more than one factor. He criticizes what many teachers do. They build instruction in reading comprehension around multiple reading strategies, treating each as an isolated, distinct skill. He maintains that research is not kind to that way of doing things. There is just not much evidence of gains in comprehension scores when doing things that way Instead, he advocates what I characterize as a wholistic approach to teaching comprehension strategies. It really is just one factor so treat it that way. The pdf explains what implementing such an approach might look like. The chart from What Works Clearinghouse details the effectiveness of what is advocated based on research. My take: the five things listed above constitute the kinds of things teachers could be (should be) doing. Doing these things gets research based results, especially 1, 2 and 5 (see the evidence ratings for each). So teachers should teach students how to use reading strategies, teach them to use the texts organizational structure and establish engaging and motivation context in which to reach reading comprehension.

On the very same day I found this post on WordPress:

zblog entry by Two Teachers on IR

Rhonda and Gen are two literacy specialists who have been doing this very popular blog for quite some time. Their world view is quite different from that of Shanahan. Here is the link to their post https://literacypages.wordpress.com/2019/01/24/what-works-independent-reading-works/. Their blog entry talks about a book from the This Not That Series. That series is edited by Duke and Keene. Good credentials there. The book is by Debbie Miller and Barbara Moss . My summary of the blog post content  is as follows: IR is done with maximum student choice and minimum interference from the teacher. That independent reading by the student is supported by individualized direct instruction. The idea of what support the teacher should give is detailed. It includes direct instruction, mini lessons and conferencing. They cite research claiming IR with the kind of teacher support advocated in this book has merit.

As I thought about what both Rhonda and Gen/Shanahan were talking about it hit me. I’d seen this kind of thing before. I’d seen it while watching workshop teachers and trainers scaffold children into deep conversations about books. Some of those students were as young as first graders. I’d seen those self-same teachers teaching comprehension strategies in the same manner as each of the folks from these disparate points of view about reading advocated. Dare I say that I think I’ve found some common ground here? I think I have.

Which brings us back to where I started, my proposition that learning to have authentic conversations around various kinds of text is one road that can lead to improving reading comprehension. Teachers must provide direct instruction. They must also scaffold students in to learning how to handle various texts and text structures. They must scaffold them into having deep conversations around those texts, both with their teacher and with each other. It’s not about the rote teaching of isolate comprehension strategies. It’s about the smart teaching of comprehension strategies, scaffolding students into making the strategies their own. Readers what do you think? Am I on to something here? I’d love to know.

Let’s change gears for a minute. Next week I will continue with this topic. I think I found another real gem in the handout the participants on the Amplify talk got. . However I right now I wanted to make my readers award of a new feature I will be adding to the blog from time to time. I like to do interviews of literacy leaders. I’ve been doing more of them lately. Decided to test the waters to see if there are still more literacy leaders willing to talk with me. Turns out there are. Among them are Ralph Fletcher (conferencing guru), Molly Ness (primary author of the newly released ILA position statement on Read Alouds & Independent Reading) and Willy Woods (organizer of the annual write to Read Conference, a major annual statewide conference here in Missouri). Sooooo. Expect that I will be interlacing interviews of these people in the upcoming weeks. That means from time to time I’ll be take a break from the ongoing topics I’m exploring to do those interviews.

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

 

Dr Sam Bommarito (aka, seeker of common ground and best practices)

@doctorsam7

P.S. If you are a visitor from the internet and liked this blog please consider following it.  Just type in your e-mail address on the sidebar of this blog post. THANKS

Copyright 2018 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.

Interview with Jennifer Serravallo about her new book: A Teacher’s Guide to Reading Conferences. Interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito.

A teachers guide

Interview with Jennifer Serravallo about her new book: A Teacher’s Guide to Reading Conferences. A very special thanks to Jennifer for doing this interview.  The book should be out in about two weeks. This interview will also appear in the February issue of the Missouri Reader.

  1. What key things you would like teachers new to conferring to learn from using this book? What are the key things you would like those experienced with conferring to learn?

If you’ve never tried conferring with readers before, this book will help you get started immediately and will introduce you to the types of conferences I use in the reading classroom. I’ve worked with many teachers new to conferring as a staff developer, so I know what questions are most common and what aspects challenge them most, and I have answered those questions and addressed those challenges in the book.  I describe various conference types clearly and offer video examples online. When I was learning to confer, I always found it important to not only read about conferring but to see my staff developers and coaches model them for me. And now when I present about conferring I always get comments that the videos were so helpful—so they are a part of this book!

For those who have been conferring for a while, there is a lot in this book that will help elevate conferring time, making it more meaningful for you and students – strategies for being more goal-directed, ways to offer students opportunities to self reflect, progressions of skills on printable note-taking forms to help teachers focus within goals but move students along, considerations for emergent bilingual students, as well as interviews with some practitioners who have been mentors to me and have wise words to offer us all.

I find there are some universal questions I get about conferring from those new to it and those experienced with it that I address in the book. For example: how to manage conferring, how to fit it in, how many children to aim to see each week in conferences, how long to spend with each conference, how to know what the perfect strategy is to teach a student, and how to keep conferences short and focused, to name a few.

  1. I was taught that conferring is the heart of workshop. How would you react to that? What might you say to convince teachers who feel there is not time for conferring to include it in their literacy program?

I say in the book that “conferring is where the magic happens” so I agree with whoever told you it’s the “heart!” I believe that every reader in your classroom is unique – the two kids reading level J books don’t have the same strengths and needs, the two kids in your class who are your strongest readers might not be strongest with the same things, the children with IEPs likely don’t have the same plan. It’s crucial then that we spend some of our time each week working with children one-on-one to set goals, support them with strategies for those goals, and monitor their progress. I also describe strategy lessons (or “group conferences”) in the book, and these are going to be important to include in your repertoire for efficiency’s sake when kids would benefit from learning the same strategy and it makes sense to do so.

  1. As a follow up to question 2, what advice do you have for making time for conferring? What support materials do you include to help with scheduling and managing it all?

I think sometimes there’s a struggle to find the time because it’s not clear what the rest of the class is doing while the teacher is conferring. My advice? While teachers confer, students read. This does a few things: first, it helps the students have ample time to practice strategies independently that they learned during their last conference with you and give them a chance for more reading volume which will help them grow as readers, and second, it frees you up to meet with students one-on-one and in groups. In the book, I offer sample schedules and a simple process for scheduling the conferring time (while the rest of the class is reading) to help teachers get to each student a couple of times a week, as well as tips for pacing each conference so they don’t run too long.

  1. You discuss different kinds of conferences.  Could you give some examples of how and why to use a particular kind of conference and good ways to decide on the content of a particular conference.

Each conference type I discuss in A Teacher’s Guide to Reading Conferences has its own purpose and structure. For example, a goal-setting conference is the sort of conference you’d conduct to help a student reflect on their work and set a goal, with the teacher as a coach/support. By contrast, a compliment conference is a conference where you offer a student positive feedback by naming something they are doing that will be helpful as they work on their reading goal. The goal-setting conference usually takes about 5 minutes because there is some time spent looking at a student’s work together while the teacher offers guiding questions for reflection, then once the goal is set the teacher provides a strategy and gives the student a chance to practice with some feedback. The compliment conference is really quick—usually just 90 seconds or so—because in that type the teacher spends a short amount of time checking in to see how the student has been doing with their goal, offers some feedback, and then moves on.  No new strategy, no guided practice. What I want teachers to do is to feel like they have a repertoire of ways to work with students so that they can be responsive and flexible—matching what a student needs to the strategy they choose to teach as well as the method they use to teach it.

  1. Your extensive support materials are one of the things that make all your works so popular.  What support materials will be available on line for use with this book? How do you see this book being used in conjunction with your other books e.g. The Reading Strategies Book and Understanding Texts & Readers? Where can we go to get a copy of your book?

As I mentioned earlier, there are videos featuring children in grades K-8 to show each conference type discussed in the book, as well as written transcripts of all of the conferences in case you prefer to read along or read instead of watch. I think the support material that folks will get most excited about are the note taking forms. There is one note taking form for assessment conferences that has questions and prompts that go with each of the 13 goals that form the framework for The Reading Strategies Book (i.e. Emergent Reading, Engagement, Print Work, Fluency, Plot and Setting,  Main Idea, and so on) and then thirteen note taking forms unique to each goal with a skill progression right on it. This way, once the teacher has identified a goal for a student, she can then use the corresponding note taking form and have the skill progression right in front of her as she confers. This will simplify decision-making and help keep the conferences focused. I’ve been using these forms with teachers in some of my study groups and they are absolutely loving them and finding them so helpful.

For those who have The Reading Strategies Book, they know that the book is set up by goal. I intended teachers to figure out a goal, then flip to the chapter that corresponds to the student goal. So with the note taking form that is goal-based with a progression, and the Strategies Book in their lap, they can easily identify the next step for a reader, flip to the corresponding chapter, and find a strategy.  Understanding Texts & Readers offers more detail and depth around leveled texts, and in that book I use the same goal categories in RSB. So in essence, they all work together (though they also each work individually do if you don’t have the other books you can still get everything out of each individual book I intended).

You can order a copy of A Teacher’s Guide to Reading Conferences wherever you get your books – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, your local independent bookstore. The book is out on Jan 31, and orders that are placed with HEINEMANN directly always ship first, and there is usually a 1-2 week delay with third party resellers. (Dr. B’s note: I’ve already pre-ordered this book through Heinemann, can’t wait for it to arrive. Should be here in about 2 weeks!)

Jennifer Serravallo is a literacy consultant, speaker, and the author of several popular titles including the NY Times Bestselling The Reading Strategies Book and The Writing Strategies Book. Her latest publication, Understanding Texts & Readers connects comprehension goals to text levels and readers responses. Upcoming publications include A Teacher’s Guide to Reading Conferences (January 2019) and Complete Comprehension, which is a revised and reimagined whole book assessment and teaching resource based on the award-winning Independent Reading Assessment (due out in Spring 2019). She was a Senior Staff Developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and taught in Title I schools in NYC. Tweet her @jserravallo.

Jennifer Serrvallo’s other interview- link to Mo Reader Article On Understanding Texts and Readers (Use link then click on the article title on the cover page of the journal to go to article)

https://joom.ag/7fWY 

P.S. If you are a visitor from the internet and liked this blog please consider following it.  Just type in your e-mail address on the sidebar of this blog post. THANKS

A Teacher’s Guide to Reading Conferences Copyright 2019 by Jennifer Serravallo 

Blog 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. 

 

Toward a complex view of the reading process: Advantages of looking at the strengths and weaknesses of all approaches and adapting our instructional practices accordingly by Dr. Sam Bommarito

 

Breadboard_complex creative commons licenseToward a complex view of the reading process: Advantages of looking at the strengths and weaknesses of all approaches and adapting our instructional practices accordingly.

Cyberspace is currently full of posts claiming that there is a one size fits all solution to improving reading, especially early reading. This solution focuses on intense systematic phonics instruction for all children. Close examination of such instruction shows it relies mainly on teaching synthetic phonics. Reading speed is valued over reading prosody. Some of the proponents claim there is just not time for comprehension concerns at the very beginning stages of reading. Comprehension comes later, perhaps as late as 3rd grade.   The pillars of this “simple view of reading” include vocabulary both comprehension. Yet the tests used by the proponents of this view to demonstrate gains are usually heavy on decoding and vocabulary and very light on comprehension. This can and should lead to questioning the face validity of such “reading” tests. My view is that they are more properly labeled as “decoding tests”.

When taking the courses for my doctorate one of the things I learned is that establishing a theoretical construct requires many observations over a great deal of time. However, it only takes one contrary observation to potentially call the whole construct into question. In the case of this simple view of reading I have some observations that seem to challenge the validity of their current construct.

First and foremost is the fact that Reading Recovery, which has been under steady attack from the proponents of the simple view of reading, has consistently been dubbed the most successful early reading program currently available. This observation was not made by the proponents of RR, but rather the independent government agency, the What Works Clearinghouse. It is a claim that has been made multiple times over multiple years. I did an entire blog about that and readers are welcome to review the statistical facts from that blog in their entirety:

https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/08/10/why-i-like-reading-recovery-and-what-we-can-learn-from-it-by-dr-sam-bommarito/

Here is a key chart from that blog post:

BETTER IW

I’m more than aware of the studies opponents cite, finding weaknesses and flaws in Recovery. Even strong advocates of RR like myself know there are limits and limitation to the program (as there are with virtually any program one would care to examine). I personally feel there are SOME students who will not benefit from RR. However I firmly believe that the data I cite in the blog indicates that it works with enough children enough of the time to make it a viable educationally significant option. The fact remains when early reading program are analyzed RR is the only one that consistently gets results in BOTH decoding and reading achievement/comprehension. The research cited by the What Works Clearinghouse indicates that code base approaches show gains in decoding but not in comprehension/achievement. Because of this I’ve come to call RR the “bumble bee” of the reading world. You see, according to the science of some individuals, the bumble bee should not be able to fly. But it does. In the case of RR, the bumble bee not only flies but actually outperforms all its code based competitors.

In a future Blog post Dr. Kerns and I are going to explore this observation along with others. There is the matter of research indicating that while code based instruction produces gains in work attack skills, past a certain point they fail to produce gains in reading comprehension/achievement. In that upcoming entry Dr Kerns and I will also look into look into the early research around Analytic vs Synthetic phonics. The upshot is that the research clearly indicates that there are students who benefit more from an Analytic approach, leading to the conclusion that neither approach should be exclusive in its use. In an earlier blog post I indicated that my mentor, the late Dr. Richard Burnett, professor emeritus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, maintained that the great debate in reading was never about phonics vs no phonics. While there are folks who feel no phonics is the best approach, the fact is that the majority of people from the whole language/constructivist point of view favored the use of some form of phonics. I was present at the 1995 IRA (now ILA) reading hall of fame session where Ken Goodman said that there was a place for phonics in a whole language program. My interpretation of what whole language/constructivist based individuals of that time advocated was that they favored a analytic phonics approach used on an as needed basis. Too often critics of this position employ what amounts to a “straw man” approach. They pick on only the weakest points advocated by their opponents and knock those down. They ignore the strong points. While that is an effective ploy in political debates it rarely results in uncovering the full reality of what is going on.

There is also the matter of how much time is needed to carry out an effective synthetic phonics program. A careful read of the NRP will indicate that at the time of the report there was no clear answer to that question. It is an important one. Do we really need to spend most (all) of the early instructional time on teaching synthetic phonics? Should we really effectively ignore comprehension (i.e. spend little or no time teaching comprehension) in the early grades? Or is it possible to create synthetic phonics instruction that is efficient enough to leave time for comprehension instruction? A careful look at the reading world circa 1985 demonstrates that leaders in the field like Pearson and Presley called for more direct teaching of comprehension. They cited the work of Durkin to uphold their belief the teachers of that era were in fact not teaching comprehension at all. At best, they were simply practicing how to answer selected kinds of comprehension questions. Since that time the majority of folks in the reading world have come to the conclusion that the explicit teaching comprehension strategies should be an important part of every literacy program. My opinion is that explicit comprehension instruction should be a part of every literacy program from the outset. Details of all these aforementioned observations and criticisms will be included in the future blog post which will include an extensive look at the research being alluded to here. I anticipate it will be several weeks before that is ready.

My point in this is not to totally discredit the use of synthetic phonics. In earlier blogs I have said there are definitely children who need that direct, intense systematic program. I also pointed out that following an as needed analytic program runs the risk of leaving large holes in students knowledge about phonics. There are ways to fix all the problems inherent in both these major approaches to phonics. At the moment the reading world seems locked in yet another debate (war) about early reading instruction. Critics of the critics of whole language point to the fact the attacks from the simple view of reading folks are really attacks on a straw man. Only the weakest points from the whole language constructivist views are taken. The charge is also made that sometimes their views are actually being totally misrepresented. My criticisms are not limited to the simple view of reading. I hear advocates of using an as needed analytic view of the reading process indicating that only their point of view works with kids. The fact is that SOME kids need some of the things advocated by the code based folks, and SOME kids need the things advocated by the constructivist based approach and, most importantly NEITHER APPROACH WORKS WITH EVERY KID EVERY TIME.

I’ll restate something I’ve said before. Both sides of this great debate (more accurately all sides in this great debate) need to explore the weaknesses as well as the strengths their own position They need to acknowledge that there are some strengths the opponents position. Teachers need to become adept in teaching phonics using all the various ways to teach phonics and they also need to become adept at teaching comprehension strategies. They must be allowed to use a variety of approaches so they can meet the needs of the diverse population of children they serve. We need to remember that beginning with the First Grade Studies and through the works of Allenton, research has consistently demonstrated that teachers make more difference than any particular reading approach. We need to empower teachers and give them the ability to help their students using the methods that fit each particular student. Fit the program to the child, not the other way round. I’ll have more to say on this point next week.

Regular readers of this blog know that my doctoral dissertation was on the topic of common ground. I found that the opposing sides of the great debate from that era had more instructional practices in common than they had that were different. I believe that if the current debate over reading changed into a dialogue about what works more children could be helped. The issue of what works needs to be addressed by more than the simple ability to decode. Reading without comprehension is not reading at all. It is simple decoding.  I detailed my position in the following blog post about calling for a reading EVOLUTION. You are welcome to read it:

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

So as we begin the new year lets shift the focus of things from debate to dialogue. Let’s recognize that reading is a complex process. Let’s start asking what will help THIS PARTICULAR CHILD, rather than try to find something that works with every child every time. The search for the latter has never been very fruitful. I maintain we are much more likely to find a workable answer if we stop debating and start dialoguing. Reading is a complex process. Different children learn in different ways. Let’s start a dialogue around that. Let’s begin the reading evolution.

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito (a.k.a. an evolutionary leader)

 

Copyright 2018 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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Don’t judge a book by its cover: 21st century implications of this age-old bit of wisdom by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Grandmas Kindle

Don’t judge a book by its cover: 21st century implications of this age-old bit of wisdom by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Something interesting happened at our house at Christmas time. My two grown sons decided it was time for my wife to join the 21st century with her reading habits. My wife is an avid reader. Sometimes she even reads in the tub. Occasionally that can have some undesired effects on the books she reads. So, wouldn’t it be nice if there were such a thing as a waterproof book. Turns out there is. It’s called the Kindle and that’s just what the boys got her Christmas.  Those who know me well know that I’ve been a longtime advocate of making use technology. This includes making use of technology in the teaching of literacy. So, this newest event in the Bommarito household provides me with an opportunity to reflect on just where technology might fit into a literacy program.

I have some fairly well-developed ideas around using technology in literacy. My very first presentation on this topic was at a national conference. It was the IRA (now ILA) conference held in 1985. My topic was Using Microcomputers in Reading.  My foundational ideas around the topic were really quite simple. Computers and the host of things they have spawned are fundamentally tools. Like any tool, they can be put to good use or bad.  My thinking around such how to use such technology was heavily influenced by Seymour Papert and his book Mindstorms.  Papert saw computers as tools of the mind.  When used as thinking tools (as opposed to electronic flashcards) they can actually help us think in new ways we could not think in before and do things we could never do before.  Think of the movie Hidden Figures. Think of the many wonderful things projects children have done using computers beginning with the lego-logo projects Papert helped to make famous. And yes I’ve read the research on overdoing screen time. So as is the case with all human endeavors, moderation is in order.

Mindstorms

I have a great deal of respect for my colleagues in the reading world and several of them have been expressing doubts and misgivings about using some of the technology available.  Some have even said they would never read a book using a Kindle.  E-books are suspect, and perhaps even substandard. I must respectfully disagree.

When I talk about the role (and potential role) e-books in literacy I usually begin by saying I don’t care whether a book has been published using the calligraphy of monks in the middle ages, the first printing presses, more recent computerized versions of the printing press or published as an e-book. My first judgement of any book is not based on the method of publication but rather on the books content and on the writing craft employed by its author. It is completely possible to create a really awful e-book. It is also possible to create a really awful paper book. But it is equally possible to create well written books using any of the methods of publication. As more people employ the technology, the number of good e-books available has increased. The most important takeaway here is that there is such a thing as a good e-book.

But, you may say, I just can’t curl up and read a good book on a Kindle (or similar device). Doesn’t seem right.  I respect that. However, many in the younger generation (and a few in the older generation) find it wonderful that they can bring their entire library with them on trips and such. The writing on my wife’s new Kindle has the look of paper, so it seems a bit less techi than some of its earlier versions. She can also vary the print size, something very handy for those of us at certain ages and stages.  I assure you she will continue to also read paper versions of many many books. But she has already conceded that there are some real advantages to the Kindle, including the fact it is water resistant (not entirely water proof).  My grandchildren have taken to it instantly. Grandma’s Kindle is a good thing and even has some of Grandpa’s Kindle versions of his favorite children’s books (grandma and I quickly learned how to share each other’s e-book libraries). Grandpa has been convinced of the utility of e-books for quite some time.

Using Kindle readers is certainly not the only way technology can be used in literacy. But it is one way.  Like all things, it should be used to fit the reader not the other way round. Those who don’t find it useful should opt not to use it. Those who find it useful some of the time should make use of it, in the tub and on the beach!!!  You need never worry about forgetting to take your favorite books with you when you’re off on vacation. Kindle readers are not the only technology to consider for use in a literacy program. I will have more to say about that point next week. In the meantime, excuse me.  I think I’m about to borrow grandma’s Kindle and read my copy of Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes. I’ve owned the kindle version of that book for a very long time! And today I’m supposed to be watching some of the Grandkids. As many of my readers know, they really love that particular book and they just love Grandma’s new Kindle soooooo… LG LG!

Doctor Sam Bommarito (aka long time techi, long time reader & very happy Grandpa!)

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Copyright 2018 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.

A happy and joyous new year to all my readers! Thoughts on where we’ve been & where we’re going with the blog by Dr. Sam Bommarito

happy-new-year-1900587_1280 free noncommercial use

A happy and joyous new year to all my readers! Thoughts on where we’ve been & where we’re going with the blog by Dr. Sam Bommarito

A Happy and Joyous New Year to all my readers! Since this blog started last February there have been 11,500 views from readers in 85 different countries.  That’s quite encouraging and I want to thank you all for your interest and support.

I’ve added a “most read posts” category to the sidebar and put the top five posts for readership there. I will update the top five from time to time during the course of next year.  Right now the most read post this year was .  https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/08/24/what-i-learned-from-reading-recovery-and-how-it-helped-to-inform-my-classroom-practices-by-dr-sam-bommarito/ . There were over 2,500 views of this post.

I’m trying to stay true to the stated goal for the blog- finding ways to create motivated lifelong readers and writers.

In terms of things to come- I want to continue to explore the topic of code based vs. meaning-based approaches to reading. I want to look at both the strengths and limitations of each approach. Regular readers know that I posit that the reason the reading wars continue to rage is that neither side has all the answers. Too often folks from all sides report only the strengths of their positions and the weaknesses of the other sides position. To move from debate to discussion we must be willing to explore BOTH the strengths and the limitations of all approaches (including the ones we personally support!). I have been on a lifelong quest for common ground, practices that both sides might be willing to support. My dissertation was on that very topic. In that dissertation I found that the two sides to the debate in that era actually had more practices that they used in common than practices that separated them.  Is that still true today?  We’ll be looking to find out.

My personal favorite blog post for the year was the one entitled “A call for a reading evolution”. Have a look at it:

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

It envisions a change from debate to dialogue. For that to happen all sides need to admit that there are limitations to their approach (as well as the strengths we are so fond of pointing out).  Once that happens, once we admit to how complex an issue learning to reading really is, it might be possible to turn the great debate into the great discussion.  Dare to dream!

One new thing for the new year is that I will be pushing into a 4th grade classroom and helping the teacher of that classroom implement a writing workshop program.  I’ll be getting to see writing workshop through some fresh eyes. I’ll be sharing insights gained through this process.

Also, I am the Co-Editor of the Missouri Reader. I’m EXTREMELY excited about the upcoming issue, due out in February. David Harrison, a well published author and poet laureate for the state Missouri, suggested we devote an entire issue to the power of poetry. That is exactly what we did. The theme for the issue is “Poetry- a Path to Literacy”.  David has written an article especially for this issue. Many other folks will also weigh in on the power of poetry. These includes Tim Rasinski, Eric Litwin, Melissa Chessman Smith and Mary Jo Fresch just to name a few. When the issue comes out, I will devote a full blog post to it. I will also provide a link to this free cyber journal.

Missouri Reader is a professional journal sponsored by Missouri ILA.  It has been publishing 2 issues  a year for the last 42 years (so yes it was a paper journal before it become a cyber journal). It is peer reviewed (we’re always looking for review board members) and encourages articles from both university professors AND classroom teachers (we’re always looking for submissions, see the last page of each journal for information on how to submit).  Here is a link to the current issue https://joom.ag/7fWY. It contains interviews with Jennifer Serravallo and Eric Litwin and a wonderful article by Dr. Molly Ness about Think Alouds.  I hope you will continue to follow the blog so that you’ll get a front row seat when the new poetry issue comes out in February.

So…, have a joyous New Year. Help make literacy become something joyous for you and your students. Remember our goal is to find ways of teaching that fit the child. Fit the program to the child, not the other way round! That’s my final thought for this year and my first thought for next year.

All the best to you and yours and I HOPE TO SEE YOU ALL NEXT YEAR!!!!!

P.S. If you are a visitor from the internet and liked this blog please consider following it.  Just type in your e-mail address on the sidebar of this blog post. THANKS

Copyright 2018 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.

Why we do what we do in the after-school program- highlights for parents to consider by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Why we do what we do in the after-school program- highlights for parents to consider by Dr. Sam Bommarito

atwell quote from Molly Ness

Screen capture from the website https://www.drmollyness.com/

We are about to go on Christmas Break and I want to let the parents in the after-school program (The Reading Club!) know some of the key things we are doing in my part of the reading club activities and why we are doing them.  Members of the Club are in 1st and 2nd grade.  I think the readers of my blog will find what we are doing in the Reading Club quite interesting and informative.

  1. We start each session with a BRIEF read aloud by Dr. B.. Dr. B. tries to use his story telling voice and even talks about how to read like a story teller. Dr. B also notices tricky words. Some of the tricky words are not spelled the way they sound, so they can’t be sounded out (e.g. said, of). We are getting together a list of tricky words that we are learning by heart. THESE ARE THE ONLY WORDS WE MEMORIZE. For most words we try to figure out our own words (sound it out OR say the first sound and think of the clues). Dr. B. has been reading a lot of Eric Litwin books to them and all these books go into the choice library that they pick from for the start up of the reading session.

 

(WHY DO WE DO THIS). I am trying to model for them how to read like a story teller. Reading this way (instead of reading like a robot), results in much better development of meaning making skills and strategies. I am guided in how to teach them to read like story tellers (prosody) by the work of Tim Rasinski. The key thing I learned from Dr. Rasinski is that in order for a reader to read like a story teller they must REALLY understand the story. When they really understand the story they know how those characters should sound as they speak (e.g. villain, hero, etc.).  They know when they are at an exciting part of the story (so sound excited) or scary part of the story (so sound scared!). Reading like a storyteller promotes reading with understanding. Dr. Rasinski calls reading with prosody (reading like a story teller) the gateway to comprehension.   You can find out more about what I learned from Dr. Rasinski by reading my blog post about his presentation in St. Louis. ( https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/05/04/the-teaching-of-reading-as-both-science-and-art-a-report-evaluation-of-rasinkis-recent-presentation-in-st-louis-by-dr-sam-bommarito). Also be sure to visit his website.(https://www.timrasinski.com/index.html)

 

  1. Each student gets to choose a book to read at the start of the Reading Club. They then share their book with a partner, they choral read i.e. they both read aloud together. They read each of the books  using a story telling voice. In that way they can help each other with tricky words. Many of these books are by Eric Litwin (Pete the Cat, Groovy Joe, et. al.!). As they finish each book they talk about their favorite parts before moving on to the next book. They know it is ok to read a book they’ve already read before if that book is a real favorite.

 

(WHY DO WE DO THIS). Teachers would call what we do at the start of book club self selected wide reading.  This is a powerful educational technique. I often tell the children that if I were their track coach I’d ask them to run. I’m actually one of their reading coaches, so I ask them to read.  BTW- that is also why I send home KEEP BOOKS each week (http://www.keepbooks.org/). This gives them books they can go home and read (and reread and reread). By the end of the year each child will have a large collections of books that belong to them. For readers not familiar with keep books, they are short predictable books, published by Fountas and Pinnell. They are inexpensive and designed to be taken home and keep (hence the name!). Each student gets to pick one book each week to take home and keep.

I am using Eric Litwin’s books for the in class weekly read aloud activity because they fit what research suggests good children’s books should do. Early level children’s books should include rhythm, repetition and rhyme. Reading such books actually help to lay down the neural networks children need for reading.  Brain researchers have found that over time, wide reading actually rewires the brain in a way that helps the child understand how to read. Eric’s books are exceptional in the area of having all three of these features. I’ve found the children love them. By now most of your children have a favorite Eric Litwin book. Ask them about it. Maybe visit the library over the break and check out that book for them (or better yet, make that book one of their Christmas gifts!). The important lesson the children have learned is that all readers should find favorite authors and read lots of book by them. After the upcoming break for the holidays we’ll be looking at some other authors and encouraging children to find a favorite author of their own. Visits to the library would help with that.

  1. Children are encouraged to have conversations about books after they read them. So far, we’ve kept these initial conversations simple, what is your favorite part? What do you think might happen next? THESE CONVERSATIONS ARE NOT TREATED AS TESTS. Here is a look at conversation starters we use and conversation starters that will be adding after the break.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

Conversation starters

Why are we encouraging meaningful talk after completing the story? Children need to learn that reading is more than just saying all the words right. Reading includes making sense of what was said. Having conversations with their reading partners after finishing each book helps them understand that reading is all about understanding the message of the author.  At the very end of the whole session we try to have a whole group share time where they get to talk about their books with people other than their partners.  Try talking with your child about some of the stories they’ve read using some of these conversation starters. 

The preceding description of what we do in reading club and why we do it does not include all the activities done each week. Instead I focused on the activities we do that promote wide reading and conversations around books. Experts in the reading field say such activities are crucial. To find out more of what they say you might want to download this pdf from the International Literacy Association that came out just this week:

https://www.literacyworldwide.org/docs/default-source/where-we-stand/ila-power-promise-read-alouds-independent-reading.pdf

LEADERSHIP BRIEF ILA 2018

So, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday break. I hope you encourage your child to READ FOR FUN as part of that holiday break.  I hope you will have some wonderful conversations with them about what they are reading (and what you read to them). I promise you if they apply the idea of reading like a story teller it really helps make reading fun and something they really want to do. I will leave you with a quote from another of my favorite children’s authors. Here is what Mem Fox said about reading aloud: ““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.”

So…, be sure to share some “chocolate” with your child over the upcoming break!

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka, book lover & chocolate lover)

 

P.S. If you are a visitor from the internet and liked this blog please consider following it.  Just type in your e-mail address on the sidebar of this blog post. THANKS

Copyright 2018 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.

 

Things I’ve Learned from Our Very Youngest Readers: Thoughts on My Recent Talk with Parent Educators by Dr. Sam Bommarito

READ THIS TO ME

Things I’ve Learned from Our Very Youngest Readers: Thoughts on My Recent Talk with Parent Educators by Dr. Sam Bommarito

It’s said that the very best way to learn something is to teach it. That point was reinforced for me this week as I carried out my Inservice for parent educators in a local district. A very special thanks to the folks at Rockwood Schools for giving me that opportunity. So, what did I learn?

First of all, I learned just how important the idea that reading programs should be made to fit the child not the other way round really is. Nowhere is it more critical than with our very youngest readers, our kiddos who are age birth through three. Readers? Dr. Sam really?  Kiddos that young are really readers? The answer is yes, they are. But they can’t read Dr. Sam, can they? Well if you take the very narrow view that reading is decoding, then no they can’t.  But that’s not how I learned about what reading is.

As part of my doctoral studies (this was a very long time ago) I ran the reading clinic at my university for a year.  I did this under the supervision of one of my committee members. Back then when we tested a child in reading, we tested for listening comprehension, oral reading, and silent reading.  The composite of the three resulted in an overall estimate of their ability to read. So back then we viewed the overall ability to listen to and learn from a passage as part and parcel of the reading process. I still do. Reading is so much more than just decoding the message.

The recent post from the Read Aloud 15 Minutes site referenced at the start of this article makes that point crystal clear. For the youngest readers, it is critical that they have the experience of hearing the story and hearing talk about the story.

Talk.

It is part of their larger experience of learning all about their world and exploring that world.  The key to this stage in the process of learning to read being successful is that the “students” gain the background knowledge Marie Clay called the Concepts About Print. Clay was a pioneer in this respect. She was among the first to realize that there is a necessary step in the reading process that comes before learning the letters and before decoding the message.  It is the step in which the reader learns how print works. In our culture, print moves from left to right. Print carries the message. You know the drill.  As I talked to the parent educators, I knew I was preaching to the choir on all those points. They knew that brain research shows the brain of a child in this age group is not ready to learn letters and sounds. See my previous blog post for details. Going through this stage lays down the neural pathways that are needed to be successful later on when the stage for more direct instruction comes, usually at age 4 or 5. That is why I cringe when I see some of the advocates of direct instruction telling parents to teach their preschooler the entire system of sounding words.  The book of one such advocate reads like a graduate level text. For toddlers? Seriously? Doing what he suggests flies in the face of current brain research and of common sense. The fact remains children need this discovery oriented, constructivist-oriented stage if they are to succeed when the time does come for direct instruction. I did remember to say “laying down the needed neural pathways” didn’t I?!?

One surprise for me is that some of the parent educators were finding that even at this stage there are sometimes “reluctant readers”.  Toddlers who don’t seem to stay interested in listening to the story for very long. Interestingly enough, one of the parent educators seemed to have provided the answer to the question of what to do.  It seems that on one of her visits, at the very moment a parent asked her about a baby not seeming interested in books that very same child picked up the board book she’d brought for the session and started playing with it. Hmmmm.  Ages and stages.  It would seem that we must be careful not to project onto children of this age the expectation that they will sit and listen to long and involved stories.  Rather we must focus on providing the experience of dealing with print and all that involves. Listen to the written word, talk about the written word. Learn to appreciate the wonders humankind created when they learned to lay down the written word so that wisdom could be passed on from generation to generation.

So for me, the biggest takeaway from this session was the realization of just how smart a teaching move Marie Clay made all those years ago.  Long before brain research further validated the practice, she recognized the need to take the time to create a print-rich environment and a constellation of print experiences. She laid the groundwork for giving the advice we now give to all parents of young children (birth to three).  Read to them. Talk to them about what is read. Make the reading experience positive by learning to read like a storyteller. Reread those favorite books. Just as the book I referenced at the start says “I love your voice and all that you say…”

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito (a.k.a., storyteller)

Happy Holidays- and KEEP READING READING READING!

P.S. If you are a visitor from the internet and liked this blog please consider following it.  Just type in your e-mail address on the sidebar of this blog post. THANKS

Copyright 2018 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.

Tips for Parents on How to Grow Motivated Lifelong Readers by Dr. Sam Bommarito

TIps for Parent @DoctorSam7 copyright 2017

PARENT TIP SHEET

The following is based on a presentation I’m scheduled to give next week to a group of parent educators in St. Louis.  Here are some of the key ideas from that presentation.

Key Take Aways From My Presentation

  • About those reading wars: The past 50 years has seen a spirited debate on how to best teach beginning readers. This presentation is based on a balanced, middle of the road approach.  For most children phonics needs to be taught. However, there are several ways to teach phonics (see my blog posts under the categories Decoding & Phonics and Ending The Reading Wars). I argue that since research supports the position that no one beginning reading method works with every child, that the key to successful reading instruction in early reading is to match the child up with a method that works for them. Fit the program to the child not the other way round. Starting with the First Grade Studies and through the work of Dick Allington research has consistently demonstrated that teachers make more difference than any one method. This means that in-servicing teachers in a variety of methods is critical to creating successful early reading programs. Participants are cautioned to examine the claims of some successful one size fits all “reading” programs. Too often these programs based their claims on measures of decoding skills only. The proponents seem to argue that reading achievement and comprehension automatically follow once decoding skills are established. Extensive work with comprehension is delayed, often until third grade.  Teachers like myself who have worked with children who are the product of such approaches are skeptical. Too often such an approach produces “word callers”, children who decode well but don’t remember or understand what is read. These children can be mistaken for children who have learning disabilities. This presenter takes issue with any approach that fails to include meaning making as part of the reading process. I recommend an approach that teaches decoding strategies and comprehension strategies concurrently from the very beginning stages of reading instruction.
  • Ages and stages When should formal instruction on letters sounds and letter names begin, how should that be done? We will review research like that presented in http://www.theorganizedmindhq.com/reading-too-soon/?fbclid=IwAR0XtYp8TuvrDHiTclb9_J4nLI0A_-MKBw79WjAV-A6zTkTTirUznYtnrhc The conclusion is that for the early years (birth through three), it is counterproductive to try to directly teacher letter sounds and names. The brain literally isn’t ready for that yet.  The key is to use a discovery approach to learning. Parents need to create a print rich environment in which children learn all the various Concepts About Print (print carries the message, in English writing goes from left to right, et. al). At this stage it is vital that children have things read to them, talk about things that are read, hear the various sounds that make up our English language.  This work in ages birth through three lays the foundation (creates the schema) for the formal instruction about how words work, letter sounds and letter names et. al. That instruction can (and should) begin starting no sooner than age 4.  Many children will leave the early stage (birth through 3) already knowing letter sounds and names. For those who don’t, instruction in those things can be provided using method(s) that best fit each particular child.

 THE NEXT FEW SECTIONS REFERENCE THE PARENT HELPSHEET I WILL DISTRUBUTE TO THE PARTCIPANTS OF THE PRESENTATION

  •  Supporting the emergent reader- Helping them Work for WordsWORK FOR OWN WORDS

While your child is reading to you, if they are stuck on a word don’t just give them the word. Instead try to help them work it out using the tips above. If they still don’t get it, then give it to them. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many words they’ll get on their own if you just give them that first sound to start with.

Also, everyone can make mistakes on their first cold read of a passage. If the child is in the habit of noticing their mistakes and correcting them THAT IS HUGE. Encourage it whenever it happens.

  •  Supporting the emergent reader- Reading to Remember/Talking About Books

Talk to them about books

You can ask about any one of these three things (not all three at once!). Use any of these three as a starting point to talk about the book. You can also ask them about favorite characters or favorite parts or new things they learned. THIS IS NOT AN EXAM. The idea is to get them to talk about their story. Knowing that you want to talk about their book encourages them to READ TO REMEMBER!

  • Supporting the emergent reader- Learning to Book Shop/Visiting the LibraryShop for books

Shop for books by interests not by level. Help them find that series or author that they want and they may “binge read”. Binge reading beats binge watching Netflix all to pieces! If the book they want is to hard for them to decode, still check it out and read it to them. Read it more than once. Share the reading with them. Make it a goal to visit the library periodically and check out books for them, books about things they are interested in!!!

OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS

The MegaBook of Fluency

  • Reading Like a Story Teller

 Rasinski & Smith Have a wonderful book called The Megabook of Fluency. Use the EARS rubric from that book to guide you into better fluency.  Read with Expression, Automatic Word Recognition, Rhythm and Phrasing, Smoothness.  The rubric is on page 316 of the book. Also check out their help sheet about reading with expression found on page 309.  In addition to these two resources, the book has tons of other activities parents can do to help their child read with fluency (PROSODY!).

  •  Supporting the emergent reader- Parents Should Act Like Books are Important & Wonderful (Because they are!)

xmas-presents creative commons

 Books can be (and should be) presents. With Christmas coming up look over some of these suggestions for books for preschoolers and emergent readers.

https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/50-chapter-books-for-preschoolers-and-3-year-olds

https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/read-aloud-chapter-books-for-4-and-5-year-olds/

https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/funny-books-for-kids/?fbclid=IwAR3iP-h7Wbkn8vJmp2DDrIZ9bjfS9rEeNKfF8Xso3EOSAQ6RrdAt2-SYK_s

https://padlet.com/sally_donnelly/BookRecommendations?fbclid=IwAR3t_xC8n5wFt-3ARWaEAG6J9sHMHKfz3vJ5g7HmOFYJ7RlXI5DcNOi6v44

Most of these suggestions come from the website https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/aboutcontact/

I’ve found it to be an excellent site for getting literacy ideas to use with younger children.

Parents should think hard about making a book one of this year’s Christmas presents. It can be the start of a great family tradition.

MEM FOX

So…, that’s the advice I’ll be giving to parent educators about what to say to parents.  It’s advice that can set the child down the path of becoming a lifelong reader. It’s advice that’s grounded in a solid research base.  It’s advice that can give their child a world of wonderful new experiences.

Happy Holidays- and KEEP READING READING READING!

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka, book shopper, advice giver, lifelong learner)

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Copyright 2018 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.

whatdowedoallday.com/aboutcontact