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Artfully Teaching the Science of Reading by Chase Young, David Paige and Timothy V. Rasinski:  An interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Artfully Teaching the Science of Reading by Chase Young, David Paige and Timothy V. Rasinski:  An interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

This week I had an amazing moment in my professional career. I was able to interview three giants from the literacy world. Each is a well-credentialed, well-known researcher in the field of literacy. All of them have served in multiple important positions. It was an honor to be talking to such a distinguished group. Here is a brief biography of each author taken from the back of their newest book.

The interview was about the new book they have just published. The title of the book is Artfully Teaching the Science of Reading. Here is a link to the bookLINK.

The book has been well received in the literacy world. Several of my friends and colleagues have reported that they have already adopted this book as the primary resource for the reading courses they teach. That is not surprising. Not only is it thorough in its scope and sequence, but it also cuts through the complexity of the literacy world and presents that world in understandable terms. As I said during the interview, as a teacher, I find the book has many “ideas teachers can use on Monday.” That fact is especially important to the many teachers who follow this blog.

I think you will find the interview lively and far-reaching. A time-stamped chart of talking points from the interview can be found below. A link to the video interview then follows. 

More about the Authors

Link to Chase’s Website LINK

Be sure to check out the Downloads and Professional Development tabs. Lots of great information Chase’s Twitter handle is @ChaseJYoung1.

Also, check out his YouTube channel (Young Tube) link on the website. It contains many useful videos of children and their work in the classroom.

Link to Jerry L. Johns Literacy Clinic (David is the director) LINK

Check out the YouTube video and the resources for parents, educators, and libraries. Also, check out David’s publications on Research Gate LINK. David’s Twitter handle is @DavidDPaige.

Link to Tim’s Website: LINK  

Be sure to check out the resources section- it includes commercial resources, e.g., The Megabook of Fluency. He also provides a lot of free educational material to download.

Follow Tim on Twitter- @TimRasinski1- Tim provides free samples of his various commercial materials every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. These posts have become immensely popular on Twitter!

______________________________________________________________

Dr. Sam’s Next Blog Entry

As I mentioned last week, I had a long and productive conversation with Eric Litwin. He is an amazing author of children’s books (think Pete the Cat) and an expert in literacy for the youngest child. He is also the author of the book The Power of Joyful Reading. I hope to talk to him soon about his upcoming appearance at The Conference on the Young Years (CYY). The conference will be celebrating its 50th anniversary.  It is sponsored by DESE (Missouri Department of Education). The conference will be held March 9 – 11, 2023, at the Tan-Tar-A Conference Center in Osage Beach, Missouri.  Osage Beach is centrally located and easily assessable to folks from around the country. Here is a link to information about the conference LINK.

Also- I am the past president and a current board member of the Missouri Literacy Association. MLA is sponsoring a FREE online professional development event on 9/29/22 featuring Molly Ness. Her topic is Building Comprehension Through Think-Alouds. Here is a link to the MLA website where you can register for the event. LINK. So- until next week,

Happy Reading and Writing!

Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the centrist who, uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching

Interview copyright 2022 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the author’s views and do not necessarily reflect any other person or organization’s views.

P.S. 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.

Shanahan’s latest blog & the NEPC policy statement: Trying to find common ground in the latest discussions about reading by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Shanahan’s latest blog & the NEPC policy statement: Trying to find common ground in the latest discussions about reading by Dr. Sam Bommarito

It’s been quite a week in the literacy world. Doctor Timothy Shanahan wrote a blog criticizing Phonics First/Phonics Only approaches.  Doctor Paul Thomas published a NEPC policy statement about the reading wars. Both these things gave me greater hope for finding common ground in this current iteration of the reading wars. Know that I have spent the last 4 years calling for a centrist position in the current iteration of the reading wars LINK. I have been critical of SOME Science of Reading Advocates (mainly the Phonics First/Phonics Only Crew) and have written about that extensively LINK, LINK, LINK. I have also advocated for reasoned discussions around the issues, discussions that avoid the use of strawman tactics by either side LINK.  I’ve also called for seeking common ground LINK. This current blog will look at this week’s events through the common ground lens.

Shanahan’s Blog

Let’s begin with Dr. Shanahan’s recent blog. LINK.  There are many things in that blog entry that really lend themselves to finding common ground. While Dr. Shanahan may or may not accept a centrist label for himself, there is no doubt that a lot of what he said in this recent blog does support a centrist stand.

This blog post garnered support and accolades from folks who are usually at odds with many of Dr. Shanahan’s positions. There are many examples of that in both Twitter feeds and Facebook posts this week. What they liked the most was Dr. Shanahan’s boat analogy. He used an example of an actual incident in the Great Lakes. The boat was in trouble, listing to one side. The passengers and crew rushed quickly to the other side. That shift caused the boat to list to the other side and sink. The lesson to be learned from this event?

THE NEED FOR BALANCE!

Here is a screen capture of a key part of the blog that captures the essence of what the blog had to say:

My take on what Shanahan had to say is this- the Phonics First/Phonics Only crew is promoting practices that are way out of balance. His post also gives a large body of ideas from research we should be considering.  This included an admonishment of those who waste children’s time by teaching phonics to kids who already could decode satisfactorily (“it couldn’t hurt”) and an extensive list of research we all should be looking at as we make decisions about how to teach reading. I’d highly recommend reading and rereading that part of his blog (items 1-8).  Looking these over and acting on them would be a good first step in trying to bring some balance to the current discussions about the best ways to teach reading.

By the way, Dr. Shanahan has given permission to our state’s reading journal to use this blog entry in our upcoming special issue about the current state of the reading wars. Glenda Nugent and I are the co-editors of that journal. On behalf of The Missouri Reader and the Missouri State Literacy Association, I would like to publicly thank Dr. Shanahan for giving that permission. Readers of the blog- you will hear more about that special edition in the very near future.

The NEPC Policy Statement

The other event this week was the publication of the NEPC policy statement authored by Doctor P.L. Thomas. It also includes ideas we should all be considered as we discuss the so-called reading wars. These are offered in the spirit of considering all sides. Many of the items in the paper deal with pushback about some of the misdirection and misinformation that has been given by folks like those in the Phonics First/Phonics Only crew. Let’s look at some highlights from the current document, LINK and the earlier NEPC document that came out in March of 2020, LINK. We’ll start with a screen capture from that earlier document. I think this quote sets the stage for what the current document has to say:

“Exemplary teachers appear to find an easier path to balance than either scholars or policy pundits.”, Please keep those words in mind. They were written by P.D. Pearson during the last iteration of the reading wars. They are just as true today as they were when Pearson first wrote them. They capture nicely the fundamental question that should be considered. Is the path to best practices a path formed by state-mandated programs or a path created by informed and empowered teachers working within the best curriculum their districts can create for their children? Those who read this blog regularly know that my take is that the path created by informed, empowered teachers is the path that can finally cut through the gordian knot that has been the reading wars. Let’s now look at some of the key ideas from the current NEPC policy statement, which was written by Dr. Paul Thomas.

OVERVIEW OF POLICY GUIDELINES

OTHER STATE AND LOCAL LEVEL ACTIONS THAT ARE NEEDED

PUSH BACK ABOUT MEDIA PORTRAYALS OF READING SCIENCE

There is clearly a lot of information to unpack and consider in this policy statement. Key among that information is the fact “many literacy scholars and researchers have challenged the media-based movement for exaggerating and oversimplifying claims about reading…”.  In addition to crafting this policy statement, P.L. Thomas has written extensively about these issues. Readers are invited to visit his blog site for additional information, LINK.

FINDING COMMON GROUND AND COMMON SENSE IN CONSIDERING THESE TWO DOCUMENTS

What follows now is my take on the “Great Debate” and how to proceed, especially given the content of these two recent documents. Let me start by saying it would be very easy to list all the things on which Dr. Shanahan and Dr. Thomas disagree. It would likely be a pretty long list. However, in the spirit of promoting centrist thinking, let’s go at it differently. Let’s look at the area of agreement. Here are some that I would propose:

  1. Things are not where we want them in the teaching of reading- change is needed.
  2. Phonics and decoding instruction are important and improving the quality of decoding instruction is important.
  3. Comprehension is equally important. We should be looking at models of instruction that promote both comprehension and decoding.
  4. Some of the ideas being promoted on social media are simply wrong and out of balance. That fact must be addressed.

There are other things we could/should add to the list. I would encourage my readers to talk about the points listed above on social media. Use the hashtag #common ground.  As you do talk about these topics, please avoid the use of strawmen from either side. Please be civil, I’ve written about how to do that LINK. Please remember that the two key ways of approaching phonics (synthetic and analytic phonics) seem to both work for most kids. However, there are some kids for whom one works and the other doesn’t LINK, LINK (see Context is Key heading). Working out instruction at the district level, so the needs of both groups of children are met in a way that is doable is critical. Ideas about that would be especially valuable. Finally, let’s address the issues around fluency, prosody, and comprehension. A very long time ago, at a conference honoring exceptionally successful Title One programs, the director of Title One said, “We know better than we do”. Isn’t it time to finally change that? Isn’t it time that we stop the binary thinking that is currently dividing the K-12 LINK? Thanks to all for considering these remarks.

COMING UP IN DR. SAM’S NEXT FEW BLOGS

I’ve arranged to talk to Dr. Tim Rasinski about the new book he has co-authored. The title of that book is Artfully Teaching the Science of Reading.  I just had a long and productive conversation with Eric Litwin. Not only is he an amazing author of children’s books (think Pete the Cat), he is also an expert in literacy for the youngest child. He is the author of the book The Power of Joyful Reading. I hope to talk to him soon about his upcoming appearance at The Conference on the Young Years (CYY). The conference will be celebrating its 50th anniversary.  It is sponsored by DESE (Missouri Department of Education). The conference will be held March 9 – 11, 2023, at the Tan-Tar-A Conference Center in Osage Beach, Missouri.  Osage Beach is centrally location and easily assessable to folks from around the country. Here is a link to the conference LINK. Finally, I’m still working on that interview of the parent of the “word guesser” I’ve been helping for the past year. She is a speech and language teacher. There will be lots of ideas to unpack from that interview.

So- until next week,

Happy Reading and Writing!

END BLURB FOR THE BLOG

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 view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

Seeking Common Ground and Common Practices: Let’s Promote Dialogue, Not Discord in the Discussions Around Teaching Reading by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Seeking Common Ground and Common Practices: Let’s Promote Dialogue, Not Discord in the Discussions Around Teaching Reading Dr. Sam Bommarito

This is a repost of a blog on the topic of common ground. The centrist view that I have been promoting holds that there is no one size fits all solution. In the coming weeks, PL Thomas will have two important documents forthcoming on the issue of whether claims to the contrary have validity. This coming week, on Sept 13, a NEPC policy brief about the Science of Reading will be released. That brief will contain a detailed analysis of the key issues around the science of reading. In addition, Paul also has a white paper in the works on the topic of grade retention. The release date is TBA. Taken together, these documents will provide major pushback to some of the claims of some of the proponents of Science of Reading.

As we consider the important points made by these upcoming papers, we should also be aware that there are very real problems in teaching literacy. My centrist view holds that no one side has all the answers, but all sides do have something to contribute. The key entry of this repost of my blog is this quote:

“…the centrist message I am giving is appealing to many folks. They are tired of the bullying and the fighting. They are tired of zealots from any side who demonize ‘the other side(s).’ They want to seek out common ground and common practices. Good things can come of SOR/BL….”

My dissertation, written in 2004 LINK,  found that the two sides in the reading wars at that time had more common practices than those on which they disagreed. Instead of treating this current situation as a my side/your side/winner take all situation, let’s have the calmer voices from all sides listen to what each is saying. Let’s see what ideas/practices we all might have in common. The blog I wrote about this idea now follows.

I have friends on both sides (all sides) of the reading debate who post regularly on social media. Lately, they report that they avoid terms like “balanced reading” or “science of reading”. That is because using them can result in bullying and what some call the “uncivilized discourse” that often characterizes discussions around such literacy issues. This week I had an “aha moment” around that problem. It came when I was writing a response to a SOR proponent I talked to on one of the larger Facebook groups for reading teachers. This person reported having a bad experience using balanced literacy and the various practices surrounding it. They were convinced BL didn’t work. When I pointed out that various issues of Reading Research Quarterly reported more than 25 years of research demonstrating the efficacy of using context (a kingpin for BL/MSV) LINK, they retorted that the International Reading Association had “skin in the game”.  That was a red flag for me. I will now share what I said in response to that remark. I will then talk about the implications of what I said. Here is a verbatim screen capture of my remarks.

The heart of my message was this:

“…the centrist message I am giving is appealing to a lot of folks. They are tired of the bullying and the fighting. They are tired of zealots from any side who demonize ‘the other side(s).’ They want to seek out common ground and common practices. Good things can come of SOR/BL….”

A central fact surrounding this discourse is that we are not there yet in terms of having a science of reading (I know some disagree). Research reported in RRQ and other places make that clear LINK. However, that does not mean that there isn’t much BL folks can learn from SOR. Burkins & Yates wrote a book about that LINK. The mistaken beliefs each side has about the other must be challenged. For instance, using SOR doesn’t mean comprehension is automatically ignored any more than using BL means that phonics is automatically ignored.   

When I did my first posts around the most recent iteration of the reading wars LINK (that was almost four years ago!), I used the following logic:

  • What works for one child doesn’t always work for another.
  • Every approach has limitations. No approach works for every child.
  • Therefore, the pendulum of instructional practices has kept swinging because when one side “wins,” they invariably call for discarding all things from the other side. BUT, since there are kids for whom the new soup de jour doesn’t work, eventually, the new way gets challenged and replaced. The process repeats itself. It has done so for all the 50 plus years I’ve spent in education.

Isn’t it way past time for us to face the fact that we need to draw on things from all sides? We need to listen carefully to Cambourne and Crouch, who so eloquently explained why we need to replace the reading wars concept with the reading quilt concept, LINK.

But Dr. Sam, haven’t the SOR folks shown their way works and works well? Shouldn’t we just adopt it all and be done with it?  The answer is most of the evidence presented by the current SOR is not even close to the level of gold standard research. Gold standard research requires implementation at the district level over many years using valid tests, i.e., tests of reading, not decoding. This past week I spent several days asking an ardent SOR supporter to provide gold-standard evidence. She cited one study and had no idea whether the testing instruments used in that study really measured reading rather than decoding. In the past, when I’ve asked for gold-standard research, what I usually get back are mainly studies that don’t even come close to meeting such standards. Frequently they are studies that use instruments like the DIBELS. DIBELS measures mainly decoding and fails to directly measure comprehension.

Why should we be worried about having gold standard research? Would you be willing to be a passenger in an aircraft that passed its wind tunnel tests but had never been tested in actual flights between cities? I wouldn’t. In the same way, before mandating programs to the exclusion of all others (a practice I have criticized LINK), we must at least look at the results of implementing those at a district level. Doing that is the educational equivalent of using actual flight tests instead of wind tunnel tests to inform the decision about the viability of an aircraft.

I also want to point out that when folks evaluate “the other side,” they must test with the best plane the other side has to offer. It must have been built to meet the company’s standards, i.e. they must demonstrate the other side’s practices were carried out with fidelity. When the critics of BL are asked to produce studies where the BL best practices were done with fidelity, they can’t.  They include all districts instead of drawing a sample of districts doing BL with fidelity. They can’t draw such a sample because they have no working definition of BL.  Doing it the way they do is like testing a rival company’s product by using a badly built plane from 50 years ago instead of studying their latest best-built jet.

I’ll finish by saying that life in the center is not easy. Eyebrows get raised from all sides when I report that I use decodables AND predictables AND trade books. I measure fluency using more than just speed. I use both synthetic and analytic phonics. I use a lot of materials from Dr. Tim Rasinski to build my students’ orthographic knowledge. I teach fluency using Rasinski’s method of reading for performance. The research around repeated readings strongly supports the use of such practices. I do comprehension checks, even with students working at the very beginning levels of reading.

I agree with Tim Rasinski that teaching is both art and science. Accordingly, I use direct teaching some of the time. The philosophical underpinnings of that method come from Aristotle. It tends to be the method most preferred by the SOR folks. I also use the inquiry methods. Its philosophical roots trace back to Socrates.  Inquiry learning is a favorite of BL groups.  BTW I’ve noticed that both those methods are still around, even after a couple of millenniums, with little chance that one will be replaced by the other. The two methods do not constitute a mutually exclusive dichotomy. They do require an application of the teaching both the art and science of reading in order to decide which method is best suited to which situation. The most important conclusion I’ve drawn from all the research around the issue of what practices to use in the teaching of reading is that “It Depends!”

I’ll end by asking folks from all sides to be willing to try ideas from “the other side” when ideas from your favorite approach aren’t working for a kid. I’ll also ask that we all do more talking and less bickering. I wrote an article about that LINK, p 20. I think if we could start doing that, there would be some definite winners. The winners would be the kids we’re all supposed to be helping.

Dr. Sam Bommarito (still the guy in the middle, still taking flak from all sides)

Copyright 2021, 2022 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.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

Things Policy Makers Should Consider When Making Decisions About Literacy by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Things Policy Makers Should Consider When Making Decisions About Literacy by Dr. Sam Bommarito

For the past five decades, the so-called “Great Debate” in reading has centered around the issue of the best ways to teach reading, especially beginning reading. Many educators have come to believe that this debate has resulted in a swinging pendulum, moving from one extreme to another. I’ve taken the position that instead of jumping between extremes, we should consider using the best, most effective practices from all points of view about reading. I call this taking a centrist approach. LINK This approach maintains there are alternate explanations about why things aren’t where we want them to be in the teaching of reading. LINK

Some points to consider when discussing the current iteration of “The Great Debate” in reading.

  • Some (not all!) Science of Reading (SOR) advocates take a very narrow view of the reading process and don’t consider all the research. LINK 
  • Some SOR advocates also ignore years of research on promoting comprehension by claiming that giving students background knowledge is mainly what is needed to solve comprehension problems. Accordingly, they call for the time spent teaching comprehension strategies to be brief. LINK. There is more to teaching comprehension than simply providing background knowledge. One must also take the time to teach reading strategies using gradual release explicitly. LINK. I argue that it takes much more time than many SOR advocates claim, especially since the maximum impact of such instruction comes from using a gradual release model. That requires several class sessions spread over several weeks or more LINK. I am not alone in criticizing these practices and the premises behind them. LINK
  • Many SOR advocates call for years of using decodable text and years of phonics instruction using mainly synthetic phonics. One of the top experts in the reading field has criticized their position around decodables, LINK. There are viable alternatives to that position. For instance, consider the work of Nora Chahbazi LINK, which can improve decoding skills in months, not years. Also, consider the ideas of Heidi Mesmer LINK and Julia B. Lindsey LINK, both of whom have viable training programs that help teachers learn the ins and outs of decoding. Also, consider our friends’ work in Australia and their success at the Thrass Institute LINK, LINK.  
  • Many SOR advocates ignore the fact that some students do not succeed using their brand of synthetic phonics and have presented no viable alternatives to help such children. LINK (see section marked context is the key)
  • I take major issue with laws in various states that effectively ban everything except their particular materials and methods. This preempts the right of districts to decide what materials/methods would best serve the needs of their population. These laws should be revised so that they call for specific outcomes, leaving the districts to decide what particular materials & methods might best fit their children’s needs (see bullet point 3 in this document for some examples of alternate materials/methods). Also, see Bower’s position LINK and Briggs’s position on this topic LINK.
  • Decisions around best practices in reading should be based on complete tests of reading, not just tests of decoding. LINK. Regardless of the philosophy a program is based on; when adopting programs, districts should require evidence that the programs improve both decoding and comprehension. This evidence should span several years. The comprehension test should directly measure all the content typically covered in our state reading achievement test. See box 1 of this document by Nell Duke for the “The range of knowledge, skills, and dispositions entailed in state reading tests “LINK 
  • Nell Duke’s ideas about a more complete view of Scarborough’s Rope should be considered. Doing so would vastly improve the odds that students will learn to comprehend as well as decode. LINK. Her ideas around improving phonics instruction are also worth considering LINK

Final Thoughts

Recently I’ve had some discussions on social media from Science of Reading advocates claiming my position that some SOR folks do not TEACH comprehension is unfounded. I’ll begin by saying that many SOR advocates do attempt to assess comprehension and practice comprehension skills. The former is a good use of teaching time; the latter is not. I’ll go so far as to say reducing the amount of time on various activities to “practice” comprehension skills is a good idea. So, there is some common ground between my position and that taken by some SOR proponents. However, practicing comprehension skills without first teaching them is like having baseball batters practice their swings without coaching on how to adjust the swings. The issue then becomes what we do about teaching comprehension strategies. It is on that point that we sharply differ. I call for using the Science of Reading Comprehension LINK. They don’t.

Many SOR advocates have adopted the position posited by Willingham that improving background knowledge is most of what it takes to improve comprehension. They call for teachers to significantly reduce the amount of time teachers spend teaching reading strategies. I’ll begin by pointing out that some major figures in the SOR world have questioned Willingham’s position. LINK I’ve written my own opinion. That opinion says that Willingham does not factor in several decades of research showing that teaching reading strategies using gradual release does result in improved reading scores. LINK I’ve also questioned whether the amount of time he advocates allocating to reading strategy instruction is adequate for teachers to implement a gradual release teaching model.

My inquiries on how these SOR advocates teach comprehension (as opposed to assessing or practicing comprehension skills) have been deflected rather than answered. One key question for those advocates is whether they support the teaching comprehension model that calls for teaching strategies using gradual release. The follow-up question is this- what percentage of their teaching time is spent teaching comprehension? Perhaps we need replication of Durkin’s seminal work in the 1980s about how much time teachers spend teaching comprehension. LINK. She found that “classroom observation of reading and social studies instruction shows that teachers are mentioners, assignment-givers, and interrogators.” During the era of the early 1980s, teachers did not TEACH comprehension. It’s not in anyone’s best interest to return to those times. We should not write off the three decades of progress the reading world has made on the issue of how to TEACH reading comprehension. 

In conclusion, I urge all policymakers, administrators, and teachers to consider all the research and best practices from all points of view as they decide how to help our children become lifelong readers and writers.

Dr. Sam Bommarito

Dr. Bommarito is retired from full-time teaching after a 51-year career in education. That career included teaching at almost every grade from K through graduate school. He taught reading courses to teachers at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. He’s made numerous presentations at ILA (formally IRA) conferences, including national conferences. In spring 2022, he was a featured speaker at the LitCon conference. More recently, he was a keynote for the University of Millersville, Pennsylvania’s summer institute and is scheduled to speak to Albany’s ILA group next January. Most of his career was spent working in Title 1 buildings as a reading specialist and staff developer. Those buildings were often highly successful, as demonstrated by national awards from the Secretary of Education. In addition, he twitters daily about his various literacy endeavors (@DoctorSam7). He writes a weekly blog about literacy https://doctorsam7.blog/. His dissertation, completed in 2004, dealt with key issues in the reading wars. Among the findings of that dissertation was that teachers from the two sides of the debate at that time had more common practices than those on which they differed. This sparked Dr. Bommarito to continue to search for common ground and common practices as we continue to examine the issue of how best to teach literacy, especially early literacy.  

Dr. Sam Bommarito interviews Kate Gladstone about her new book Read Cursive Fast

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Dr. Sam Bommarito interviews Kate Gladstone about her new book Read Cursive Fast

As my readers know, I am often on Twitter discussing various literacy issues. I try to talk with a variety of folks with various literacy views. Kate Gladstone was one of those people. She has a compelling personal story. As you will find out in the interview, she is Dyslexic and Autistic. Among her problems was her inability to read and write things written in cursive. She was able to develop things that let her succeed in learning to read and write cursive, despite any problems being posed by those conditions. Her book Read Cursive Fast outlines the innovative things she did to help both her handwriting and her ability to read cursive. The book is a valuable resource for children and adults with similar problems. Here is a brief biography of Kate:

Here is the YouTube interview:

Here is the interview discussion. Topics are time stamped:

Various Resources from Kate

Link to order Read Cursive Fast (publishers detail page)  LINK

Link to ReadCursiveFast.com (contains related articles by Kate, supplementary materials to enrich and add to the contents of the book, reviews of the book open brackets with link to the site of the reviewers], and more) LINK.

Link to “Oops, I Forgot How To Read Cursive” by Kate Gladstone LINK

Link to “When the ‘Different’ Learner Meets Cursive” by Kate Gladstone LINK 

Link to “Handwriting and the Autism Spectrum” by Kate Gladstone (published in AUTISM SPECTRUM NEWS for April 2022) LINK

Distributors of Kate’s other current products:

        SuperStyluScripTipTastic Pen — from Therapro LINK

         TriOn customizable pencil grips —from The Therapy Shoppe LINK

          — and from National Autism Resources (NAR) LINK

         Stage-Write Raised-Line Handwriting Paper in 6 sequenced formats —from Therapro LINK

TO CONTACT KATE ABOUT HANDWRITING INPUT/OUTPUT ISSUES (remediation, instructional design and recommendations, curriculum selection consultation, disability-related handwriting issues, ESL-related handwriting issues, and adult/professional handwriting issues) — e-mail Kate@ReadCursiveFast.com and make sure that your subject-line includes the word “help” (NOT case-sensitive)

For Kate’s other handwriting endeavors: HandwritingThatWorks.com LINK.

Dr. Sam’s Blogs for the Start of the new School year– As the new school year begins, I am continuing to arrange for additional interviews with authors of some of the many professional books that have been published lately. I’m trying to arrange to talk to authors from various points of view about literacy.

As indicated last week, in addition to these interviews, I will post a blog about my plans for my push-ins this fall at the school where I serve as a pro bono reading consultant in grades K-3. I’ll be teaching two full days a week, doing large group, small group, and individual sessions. I hope that talking about what I’ll be doing will allow readers to see how I adapt my instruction to the many ideas I’ve gotten from my lifelong search for common ground and common sense. After that, I arranged for an interview with the mom of the student I worked with this summer. She is a speech & language teacher. We will explore how the two of us together were able to help her daughter, who is now going into 4th grade, overcome her problem of word guessing. So, as we begin the new school year, I hope this blog will provide you with a great deal of interesting and useful information.  Hope everyone is having a great start to their new school year!

Happy Reading and Writing.

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.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

Dr. Sam Bommarito interviews Dr. Paul Thomas about what policymakers should know about the Science of Reading.  

Dr. Sam Bommarito interviews Dr. Paul Thomas about what policymakers should know about the Science of Reading.  

Last year Paul Thomas was a featured speaker at LitCon. He spoke on the topic SOR- It’s not settled, and it’s not simple. I interviewed him about that LINK.  This year he is again a LitCon featured speaker. He is building on last year’s topic. He will discuss what policymakers should know about the Science of Reading. I predict Paul’s new session will be clear, compelling, and backed up by an extensive research review. It will be one of the “must-see” events at LitCon.  Before talking about the current interview, let’s learn a little bit about Paul:

Now it is time to have a look at the interview. Here are the topics we discussed. They are time stamped.

Here is the YouTube interview:

  • Paul has a new edition of his book. Here is a LINK.
  • Link to LitCon 2023 conference. LINK
  • Link to Paul’s blog post How to Navigate Social Media Debates about the “Science of Reading” LINK

Note: This blog post allows you to download a very useful PDF on this topic

  • Link to my blog defending Reading Recovery, including data that shows RR works. LINK

Dr. Sam’s Blogs for the Start of the new School year– As the new school year begins, I am continuing to arrange for additional interviews with authors of some of the many professional books that have been published lately. Next week I’m interviewing Kate Gladstone about her new book, READ CURSIVE FAST.

As indicated last week, in addition to these interviews, I will post a blog about my plans for my push-ins this fall at the school where I serve as a pro bono reading consultant in grades K-3. I’ll be teaching two full days a week, doing large group, small group, and individual sessions. I hope that talking about what I’ll be doing will allow readers to see how I adapt my instruction to the many ideas I’ve gotten from my lifelong search for common ground and common sense. After that, I arranged for an interview with the mom of the student I worked with this summer. She is a speech & language teacher. We will explore how the two of us together were able to help her daughter, who is now going into 4th grade, overcome her problem of word guessing. So, as we begin the new school year, I hope this blog will provide you with a great deal of interesting and useful information.  Hope everyone has a great start to their new school year!

Happy Reading and Writing.

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.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

Jill Speering talks about her book Rubies in the Rubble- An interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Jill Speering talks about her book Rubies in the Rubble– An interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Jill Speering’s book, Rubies in the Rubble, is part memoir. It also gives valuable information about Reading Recovery. The memoir part talks about her struggles to overcome her early childhood experiences, including being physically and mentally abused. It is an inspiring tale of one person overcoming the odds. The informational part of the book tells the gripping story of how she got a very successful Reading Recovery program in place for the city of Nashville and how local politics eventually resulted in the program being discontinued.

LINK TO THE BOOK (available in paperback & on Kindle)  LINK

ABOUT THE BOOK & Its AUTHOR (Highlights of Jills remarks about herself & book)

Jill Speering has written an interesting, insightful, and honest memoir of her life. She endured an abusive childhood, where she was not only physically abused but also mentally belittled, insulted, and constantly told she was inadequate and useless. Her early school experiences continued the pattern of insult, instilling in her a sense that she was stupid and unable to learn. But she began to find support and a positive sense of self after she failed the fifth grade and attended a new school where she found the love and encouragement of teachers who helped diminish her negative self-image. This experience began to open her eyes to the importance of supportive teachers.  As a result, she began a life of activism for public education, holistic education, and support for disenfranchised children. 

Jill pursued teaching as a career, soon discovering her gifts as a reading teacher to underprivileged and under-supported students like herself. She became a renowned teacher and Reading Recovery Teacher Leader, and her impact on schools in her district was legendary.

Of particular interest in this compelling memoir is her journey of self-discovery and finding the rubies in her life. Her insights into the politics of teaching, school administration, and school boards are extremely perceptive. This author shares her transformation of resilience and faith in oneself. Jill’s story will inspire you. 

After retiring from teaching, her activism continued when she made the decision and was elected to serve on the Metro Nashville Board of Education, overcoming obstacles from big money and powerful business. Although some businessmen and women were opposed to educators serving on the board of education, Jill knew that the voice of educators is paramount to a thriving school district and success for all students.

In the book, Jill also tells the tale of what happened when a new director of schools took over & eliminated the highly successful Reading Recovery program in her district. Speering led a campaign to dismiss this director of schools, a campaign that adversely affected her health and personal life. The school board eventually bought out the director’s contract. Unfortunately, the Reading Recovery program has never been reinstated.

A review on Amazon:

“Not since Educated by Tara Westover have I been so captured by a book. From the author’s first words, “I hated my father for 39 years,” to her last sentence, she touches hearts and enriches minds with her story of triumph over the trying circumstances of her life. Once you begin to read, you will not be able to put Rubies in the Rubble down. Jill Speering’s book should be required reading for all educators.”

Here is the YouTube podcast of the interview:

Here is the interview discussion. Topics are time stamped:

A draft copy of Jill’s advice to teacher leaders and other advocates of Reading Recovery

Link to my blog defending Reading Recovery, including data that shows RR works. LINK

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE FB PAGE JILL CREATED. IT IS A CLOSED GROUP DESIGNED TO LET READING RECOVERY TEACHERS SHARE INFORMATION & IDEAS ABOUT RR. (Also, be sure to follow Jill on Twitter @jillspeering!)

(Jill turned management of the site over to others. The site continues to grow. It now has over 6000 members)

LINK

Dr. Sam’s Blogs for the Upcoming School year- As the new school year begins, I am continuing to arrange for additional interviews with authors of some of the many professional books that have been published lately. Next week I’m interviewing Paul Thomas. Paul is one of the most knowledgeable people I know on the whole issue of SOR & the “Reading Wars.” He will be a featured speaker at LitCon 2023, has a new edition of his book coming out, and is about to publish an important white paper about the topic of SOR & the reading wars. I’ve also arranged for an interview with Tim Rasinski in September. He will talk about his new book Artfully Teaching the Science of Reading.  

In addition to these interviews, I will post a blog about my plans for my push-ins this fall at the school where I serve as a pro bono reading consultant in grades K-3. I’ll be teaching two full days a week, doing large group, small group, and individual sessions. I hope that talking about what I’ll be doing will allow readers to see how I adapt my instruction to the many ideas I’ve gotten from my lifelong search for common ground and common sense. After that, I arranged for an interview with the mom of the student I worked with this summer. She is a speech & language teacher. We will explore how the two of us together were able to help her daughter, who is now going into 4th grade, overcome her problem of word guessing. So, as we begin the new school year, I hope this blog will provide you with a great deal of interesting and useful information.  

Happy Reading and Writing.

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.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

Julia B. Lindsey talks about her new book Reading Above the Fray- An interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Julia B. Lindsey talks about her new book Reading Above the Fray– An interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

For those of you who are looking for a professional development book that gives you research-based routines for developing decoding skills, I think you will really like Julie B. Lindsey’s new book Reading Above the Fray. It’s a nuts-and-bolts kind of a book, written by a teacher for teachers. As you can see from her bio below- Julie began as a Kg-1 teacher. Subsequently, she worked on advanced degrees. Her work cumulated in a Ph.D. Her doctoral chair was Nell Duke (who provided an excellent foreword for the book). The book is part of Scholastic’s collection of books around the topic of Science of Reading. Links to her book and additional information about Julia now follow.

LINK TO THE BOOK (Scholastic Website) LINK

ABOUT THE BOOK (taken from the Scholastic Website)

Dr. Julia B. Lindsey’s evidence-based routines help young readers decode words efficiently so they can spend more energy on comprehending-and enjoying-what they read! You’ll find:

1. Need-to-know essentials of how kids learn to read.

2. Principles of high-quality foundational skills instruction.

3. Teacher-approved instructional “swaps” to improve early reading instruction.

Dr. Lindsey addresses content learning, culturally responsive practices, and the importance of engaging readers from the start.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julia B. Lindsey, Ph.D., a former kindergarten and first-grade teacher and self-proclaimed “phonics nerd,” works with teachers, district personnel, curriculum developers, and nonprofit groups to translate foundational reading research into practice. While completing her doctoral studies at the University of Michigan, she developed a free decodables book program in collaboration with Boston Public Schools. She is the author of Reading Above the Fray: Reliable, Research-Based Routines for Developing Decoding Skills..  

Here is the YouTube podcast of the interview:

Here is the interview discussion. Topics are time stamped:

I hope you found the interview as informative as I did. Here are the book excerpts that Julia referred to in the interview:

Chart from page 40 (Question 2)

Chart from Page 133 (Question 4)

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT JULIA B. LINDSEY’S WEBSITE-

BEYOND DECODABLES

(You can download free books- rich in meaning & geared to teach specific decoding skills)

To get these free books use the link below

LINK

Dr. Sam’s Upcoming Summer Blogs- In the next few weeks, I am continuing to arrange for additional interviews with authors of some of the many professional books that have been published lately. I’m planning to talk to Tim Rasinski, among others. I hope to carry out those interviews before the new school year begins. Also, near the end of summer, I hope to talk to you about my plans for my push-ins this fall at the school where I serve as a pro bono reading consultant in grades K-3. I’ll be teaching two full days a week, doing large group, small group, and individual sessions. I hope that talking about what I’ll be doing will allow readers to see how I adapt my instruction to the many ideas I’ve gotten from my lifelong search for common ground and common sense. In the meantime:

Happy Reading and Writing.

Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the centrist who uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching

Julius Anthony and the Believe project: A close look at his work in literacy- An interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Julius Anthony and the Believe project: A close look at his work in literacy- An interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

I first met Julius at one of our St. Louis Literacy Association meetings. At the time, he had just founded the St. Louis Black Authors organization. Everyone at that ILA meeting was impressed by what he and his group of children’s authors had already accomplished. The St. Louis Black Authors shared their books with us (there were many). They also shared their passion for bringing children of color culturally relevant books, books whose authors and protagonists looked like them. Over the next several years, Julius and his group became active in the St. Louis Literacy scene. Julius became the President of the St. Louis Literacy Association and is now the President-elect of the Missouri Literacy Association (an ILA affiliate). As you will learn in the interview, under his leadership, the St. Louis Literacy association sponsored several major speakers and provided in-service for Saint Louis area teachers. At the same time, he also created and expanded his Believe Project.

The Believe project is amazing. Julius and his organization have established reading rooms in local schools and community centers. Each site is stocked with one to two thousand culturally relevant books. Look at the pictures of some of the sites found a little later in this blog. They are inviting, and they have murals created by local black artists. Listen to Julius as he talks about the impact of the murals and the wonderful atmosphere created for these sites. He already has six sites and is about to open two more. Please listen to the interview to find out the full story of the Believe project.   

Here is the YouTube podcast of the interview:

Here is the interview discussion. Topics are time stamped:

Here is a link to Julius’ website (donations to the Believe project are always welcome): LINK

HERE IS A PICTURE OF SOME OF THE BELIEVE SITES(additional pictures are available on the website):

Here is a picture of some students reading at one of the Believe sites. One of the project’s goals is to make the rooms inviting and welcoming.

For more information about the Missouri ILA & St. Louis Regional affiliates, please visit the MLA website. If you live in Missouri, remember that we always welcome new members. We are one of the fastest-growing ILA affiliates in the nation, and we would love to have you join in our continued efforts to promote literacy. Membership in MLA automatically gives you membership in one of our four local affiliates. We have lots of great things planned for next year. Here is the LINK.

Dr. Sam’s Upcoming Summer Blogs- In the next few weeks, I am continuing to arrange for additional interviews with authors of some of the many professional books that have been published lately. I’m planning to talk to Tim Rasinski, among others. I hope to carry out those interviews before the new school year begins. Also, near the end of summer, I hope to talk to you about my plans for my push-ins this fall at the school where I serve as a pro bono reading consultant in grades K-3. I’ll be teaching two full days a week, doing large group, small group, and individual sessions. I hope that talking about what I’ll be doing will allow readers to see how I adapt my instruction to the many ideas I’ve gotten from my lifelong search for common ground and common sense. In the meantime:

Happy Reading and Writing.

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.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

Speech First Reading Instruction- A conversation with Nora Chahbazi about her powerful EBLI instructional system: An interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Speech First Reading Instruction- A conversation with Nora Chahbazi about her powerful EBLI instructional system: An interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

I’ve interviewed Nora Chahbazi several times over the past couple of years. Nora is the founder of EBLI Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction. I first met Nora over the internet while exploring the net, looking for effective evidence-based instructional systems. Her instructional system stood out because she has demonstrated gains in both comprehension and decoding performance for elementary students. She has achieved those gains much more quickly than in other programs. In this interview, she tells us about herself, how EBLI came into being, and how EBLI uses a Speech First Approach to get the impressive results she is reporting.

On a separate note- I also want to thank Nora for arranging for me to participate in the upcoming documentary The Truth About Reading. An independent producer is creating the documentary. Nora encouraged that producer to include many different points of view about how reading should be taught, including my centrist views about reading. While Nora and I don’t agree on everything about reading, we do share an increasing common ground of ideas about what works and what is important. I’m hoping that by sharing current thinking and ideas from various perspectives, including Nora’s, readers of this blog can help enlarge the size of that common ground. Let’s now look at what Nora said about herself and her system of instruction.

Biography (provided by Nora):

Nora Chahbazi, B.S., R.N.

Founder, EBLI Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction

As a leading literacy expert, Nora has spent 20+ years revolutionizing reading instruction. She has received recognition for her lifelong work in the form of several noteworthy nominations and awards including the Editor’s Choice Award from Celebrity Press, the Quilly Award from the National Academy of Best-Selling Authors, and the Literacy Champion Award from DNA Films. She is a published author worldwide and has been featured in multiple literacy development articles and books. Nora is a featured speaker across the nation and has collaborated with universities to advance research and development of reading. She is the literacy consultant for the upcoming documentary The Truth About Reading. Nora has been featured in multiple TV and radio interviews and podcasts, including APM and Oprah Radio (where she was interviewed by Maya Angelou). Her life’s work is to teach the world to read.

Here is the YouTube podcast of the interview:

Here is the interview discussion. Topics are time stamped:

Here are the links to two of the books Nora talked about:

Why Our Children Can’t Read and What We Can Do About It: A Scientific Revolution in Reading LINK

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning LINK

SIGN UP to receive NORA’s blog and email newsletter! LINK

Here is Nora’s Website LINK

Click on these key links to go to these specific items on Nora’s Website/YouTube Channel:

Dr. Sam’s Upcoming Summer Blogs- As I indicated last week, in the next few weeks, I am continuing to arrange for additional interviews with authors of some of the many professional books that have been published lately. I’m making arrangements right now to talk to both Julia B. Lindsey and Tim Rasinski, among others. I hope to carry out those interviews before the new school year begins. Also, near the end of summer, I hope to talk to you about my plans for my push-ins this fall at the school where I serve as a pro bono reading consultant in grades K-3. I’ll be teaching two full days a week, doing large group, small group, and individual sessions. I hope that talking about what I’ll be doing will allow readers to see how I adapt my instruction to the many ideas I’ve gotten from my lifelong search for common ground and common sense. In the meantime:

Happy Reading and Writing.

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.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.