Advocates for the Science of Reading need to expand their view of the science and push for curricula that incorporate it.
Thank you for sharing this. There is so must discussion and confusion about reading instruction in schools today. Both the research behind and the implementation of SoR are very important.
This is an excellent explanation. Thank you. As a balanced literacy teacher, I have resisted the "science of reading" moniker that seems to have overtaken and put aside the efforts of many excellent teachers. It feels like a slap in the face to act as if we have not used "science" or "research" in our work with students for the past 30+ years, when nothing could be further from the truth. I am tired of the "Reading Wars," and I appreciate your effort to have a meeting of the minds. I am mindful of the need for and the explicit teaching of phonics skills with my high school students who are struggling, just as I was with my elementary students who were learning them for the first time, or practicing what they had already learned. Never in my career have I said Phonics was not important. I don't know a good, hard-working teacher who has. Could we please just come together and focus on helping kids?!?! After all, it is what brought us into this profession in the first place.
#4: The idea that the public schools are somehow still searching for the answers is utterly preposterous. Home schoolers and people like me with absolutely no "ed school" training do an incredibly better job than the public schools just by 1) using rationally designed curricula and 2) organizing students by ability groups rather than age groups. The fact that nonprofessionals can consistently outperform supposed "professionals" bespeaks a public school system that is terminally ill and totally unreformable. After years of beating my head against this, I came to the conclusion that our only hope as a nation is to start a movement wherein parents understand that THEY THEMSELVES MUST TEACH THEIR CHILDREN TO READ: http://www.mychildwillread.org/teach-your-child.shtml
#3: During my battle with the school establishment I created and operated a totally standalone after-school reading instruction program in the Chicago suburbs (called "I Can Read"). Our customers were the parents of students who the schools had labeled as "dyslexic" or simply as reading failures. Despite my complete lack of formal education in teaching, I knew enough to simply use a working curriculum that required ability-grouping of students. Our program advanced these rejected students, on average, ONE YEAR of reading capability (as measured by the schools) every 13 weeks. We had a ZERO failure rate with kids that the public schools claimed they could not teach. We published our results online. The web site is still up. Read here: http://projectpro.com/icanread.htm
#2: I am a veteran of the "reading wars" of 1995-2005. I was one of the outraged parents who formed the first online coalition of parents and educators to try to fight the constant insanity in our nation's public school reading instruction. But we were certainly not the first group in this fight; we were just the first online. To understand the sordid 80-year history of our pubic schools' gross malfeasance, start here: http://mychildwillread.org/the-problem.shtml
#1: First let me say that the alphabetic principle (and our alphabetic languages) are the most significant technical development in human history. Until 4,000 years ago we were in the stone age, and we'd still be there if it hadn't been for the astounding notion of encoding sounds rather than ideas in writing. For a brief understanding, read here: http://mychildwillread.org/how-reading-works.shtml
"Just as with phonics, teachers often think they’re teaching comprehension when in fact they’re not."
This is a great analogy in a beautifully balanced piece. Thank you. Here's how I wrote about 3-cueing in Getting Reading Right: On Truths, Truce, and Trust:
"Sold a Story delivers another powerful truth related to word recognition: The three-cueing system that has been promoted through Balanced Literacy over the past two decades is not what good readers use to read. In fact, that system describes what poor readers do. Accepting this truth should be non-negotiable and has implications for instruction--my instruction. As a reading specialist faced with administering flawed assessments based on three-cueing that masked whether my beginning readers could decode, I rewrote those predictable test booklets to make them decodable, thereby obtaining meaningful data. So reference to a “fabricated phonics debate” in the open letter “rejecting the newest reading wars” simply adds insult to injury."
I think you let SoR advocates off too easily. Because most of them are neither scientists nor teachers, they have done a spectacularly lousy job of making their case. The notion that SoR advocates want phonics to dominate reading instruction didn't just fall out of the ether. The SoR explanation comes out a little bit differently every time, though frequently with a tone of condemnation and condescension toward actual teachers. It does not help that many SoR advocates have allowed themselves to be co-opted by the right wing crowd that doesn't really want to solve a problem, but just to condemn public education every way they can manage to.
Hi. This is a good attempt. Most of us are still curious about why some folk believe that reading is a science. It would be more accurate to say that science is a form of reading.
Thanks, Natalie. Phonics essential but not sufficient. Also, appreciate your continued emphasis on the important role of curriculum.