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Phonics & decoding

What Is the Proper Sequence to Teach Reading Skills?

Years ago, when the National Reading Panel (NRP) report came out, Congress tried to impose a national literacy sequence on American schools. Their plan only allowed phonemic awareness instruction until kids could fully segment words. Then the law would let us teach phonics… but no fluency until the word sounding was completed. Eventually we’d even get to comprehension — at least for the most stalwart boys and girls who hung in there long enough.

A very ambitious plan; one that suggests a clear developmental sequence in how reading abilities unfold.

Does a Listening Deficit Predict a Reading Deficit?

In a recent workshop I attended, the following comment was made:

"A child cannot read and comprehend at a level higher than they can listen and comprehend. A deficit in listening comprehension predicts a deficit in reading comprehension." Could you explain this correlation further or refer me to professional reading material that would expound on this topic?

Unbalanced Comments on Balanced Literacy

Want to win an argument about literacy? Just claim your approach is “balanced.”

Balanced is a affirmative term. That’s why Fox-News claims to be “fair and balanced.” It not only makes your position sound reasonable, but implies your opponents may be a bit off, you know, imbalanced.

So it is not too surprising that school principals and district literacy leaders often tout their reading programs as balanced. “Balanced literacy” sounds great, but what does it mean? What is being balanced?

Teach handwriting. Really!

Richard Gentry and Steve Graham reaffirm the research about the importance of spelling and handwriting instruction in a new white paper. I'll write about the spelling research in a separate post, this one will focus on handwriting.

Using but confusing, with laundry

I've written before about using a child's writing as a way to understand what she needs from her instruction. This weekend provided me with more insight into Anna's (our 6 year old) development by showing me what she's "using but confusing," a term used by Donald Bear and colleagues in their research in word study.

The girls' Sunday chore was to organize their dresser. Always industrious, Anna took it a step further and labeled each drawer. You can see her work in this photo:

Ranting about RAN

Lots of kids with reading difficulties have trouble on measures of rapid automatized naming (RAN). RAN tasks measure the time taken for a child to name alphabet letters, digits, colors or common objects presented in a random order. Poorer readers consistently perform more slowly on automatized naming tasks.

Mindful of Words

I recently reviewed Mindful of Words, Spelling and Vocabulary Explorations 4-8 by Kathy Ganske.

The book is a great resource for teachers and tutors who work with upper-level spellers. Based in developmental spelling research and vocabulary learning, the book helps teachers understand how to assess students' word knowledge and how to teach in a way that encourages a love of words.

What is a high-quality preschool?

Around our town, parents of preschoolers are busy observing in classrooms and filling out lengthy application forms for next year's preschool. Most of our preschools have a $25–$40 application fee and waiting lists a mile long, so it's a process that many undertake cautiously and anxiously.

Nonsense, as in nonsense words

Mog.
Fim.
Phum.
Sote.
Pagbo.

Just a few examples of the types of words students are asked to read on a Nonsense Word assessment. Some assessments are timed (how many nonsense words can you read in one minute?), and some assessments use a ceiling (stop when the student incorrectly reads 5 in a row).

What sounds to teach when?

I'm often asked what the best sequence is for teaching letter sounds. From the work done by the National Reading Panel, we know that systematic and explicit phonics programs teach children letter–sound relationships directly in a well-defined and predetermined sequence.

Most systematic phonics programs sequence phonics generalizations from least difficult to more difficult. Even still, there are lots of programs that teach letter sounds using lots of different sequences.

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"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase