Each weekday, Reading Rockets gathers interesting news headlines about reading and early education. Please note that Reading Rockets does not necessarily endorse these views or any others on these outside websites.
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Students in New Jersey could soon be required to learn how to spot misinformation. The New Jersey legislature, on Nov. 21, passed a bipartisan bill that would require public schools to teach media literacy. Media literacy, sometimes called information literacy, is defined as “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication,” according to the National Association for Media Literacy Education, a professional association for educators, academics, activists, and students.
Elementary school learners generally vary greatly in their learning readiness, their interests, and their learning profiles, as Carol Ann Tomlinson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development, has explained. Teachers understand the different challenges each learner may need to master to thrive and sustain their intrinsic motivation to discover the world around them. Here are strategies to differentiate instruction in any one or all of four areas to successfully meet learners where they are.
In the continuing discussion of how to revamp reading instruction to ensure that all students learn to decode, educators, parents and concerned members of society must emphasize the need for literacy teaching that goes beyond phonics and past early elementary school. There is a huge gap between decoding and comprehension, leaving students without the skills to understand complex texts
Learning to read and write is hard. Most schools make it even harder by asking students to read and write about topics they know little or nothing about. Education expert Dylan Wiliam has said that cognitive load theory is “the single most important thing for teachers to know.” And yet few if any learn about it during their training—or on the job. Numerous studies have demonstrated the validity of cognitive load theory. Most have been done in the area of math, but the principles apply to any kind of learning. And generally, they support teaching new information explicitly rather than asking students to discover it more or less on their own. But let’s turn to what the theory can tell us about teaching kids to read and write.
There was a remarkable moment near the end of last week’s ExcelInEd conference in Salt Lake City—one that I never would have thought possible and might have scoffed had someone predicted it, even a few short years ago. Emily Hanford of American Public Media had just addressed a plenary session of nearly 1000 education policymakers in a crowded ballroom describing her new podcast, Sold a Story, which follows several years of her reports on the foundational “science of reading.” She described how some of the most popular—and most profitable—approaches to reading instruction in American elementary schools disregard what we know about how children learn to read. The meeting broke up with a warm round of applause. As attendees started speaking among themselves and heading for the exits, ExcelInEd’s normally circumspect CEO Patricia Levesque stepped to the mic and fired a parting shot. “You all now know that there is something in our schools that’s doing harm to our children, so what are you going to do about it?” she challenged the crowd of policy advocates and elected officials.
The 2022 Best Books have been revealed! Get access to all the titles and annotations, organized by categories. Download a full list of our selections for ready sharing with teachers, students, and more. Get an inside look into the makings of a Best Books cover in our interview with Guojing, the author/illustrator of one of our honored books, who illustrated our stellar December 2022 cover.
In this podcast with host Ezra Klein, researcher and scholar Maryanne Wolf (U.C.L.A.’s School of Education and Information Studies) discusses why reading is a fundamentally “unnatural” act, how scanning and scrolling differ from “deep reading,” why it’s not accurate to say that “reading” is just one thing, how our brains process information differently when we’re reading on a Kindle or a laptop as opposed to a physical book, how exposure to such an abundance of information is rewiring our brains and reshaping our society, how to rediscover the lost art of reading books deeply, what Wolf recommends to those of us who struggle against digital distractions, what parents can do to to protect their children’s attention, how Wolf’s theory of a “biliterate brain” may save our species’ ability to deeply process language and information and more.
Superintendent Megan Van Fossan is trying something new to address low academic achievement: using a game-based early literacy assessment. Van Fossan, who is in the first year of leading the Sto-Rox school district near Pittsburgh, is facing a challenging road ahead: 96 percent of students in the 1,170-student district are on the federal free or reduced-price meals program, and the school system is struggling financially and academically.
When teachers make an effort to incorporate a student’s home language into the classroom, multilingual children not only benefit academically, but they also feel a stronger sense of identity. In a new study published this summer, pre-K educators in New York City saw clear benefits to students speaking multiple languages but found that more professional development and support was needed to fully embrace those languages and cultures in the classroom.
Lauren Williams' second-graders get two hours of reading and writing practice every day at Hamilton Elementary in Coon Rapids. All 27 of them learn in unison for about half that time. Each lesson contains a dash of phonics, some vocabulary building and a healthy dose of phonemic awareness — or how words are made up of a series of sounds. It's a method of literacy instruction far different from the one used as recently as two years ago.
The El Busesito “little bus” preschool is run by Valley Settlement, a nonprofit that delivers free early childhood and family engagement programs to Latino immigrant families in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley. The 40-mile region stretches from the red rock cliffs and geothermal pools of Glenwood Springs to the luxury resort town of Aspen and is marked by wide social and economic disparity. El Busesito operates four buses that travel to five neighborhoods to provide bilingual preschool education for nearly 100 children in the community.
The human brain is wired to speak and absorb language — but not to read. Only 20% to 30% of children learn to read without explicitly being taught. The remaining 70% to 80% need effective curriculum and structured instruction to gain the literacy skills to keep on track with their learning progression. The Science of Reading begins with a proven approach that utilizes phonemic awareness and phonics to systematically correlate sounds with letters and sound patterns with clusters of letters. The Science of Reading also emphasizes that children need background knowledge and vocabulary to comprehend text rather than solely drawing from their own experiences.
Look but don’t touch. It’s a refrain most of us have learned to follow — and repeat — by the time our favorite doll and toys live in somebody else’s bedroom. And one that grows easier to obey as our fingers and eyes spend ever more time dancing over keyboards and screens. But we are hard-wired to want to grab and hold. So here are four tangible delights that will make your eyes wish they had thumbs.
Sabaa Tahir's All My Rage won the 2022 National Book Award for Young People's Literature. All My Rage was selected over four other finalists: The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill, The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes, Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice by Tommie Smith, Derrick Barnes, and Dawud Anyabwile, and Maizy Chen’s Last Chance by Lisa Yee. "This feels like an impossible dream," Tahir said, before briefly sharing the story of her family—her grandfather, who was a sharecropper with a fourth grade education; her grandmother, who was illiterate; and her parents, who emigrated to the United States 40 years ago.
More teachers regularly used new, standards-aligned curriculum materials during the 2021-22 school year than during the previous two years — a sign school systems may be turning to fresh instructional materials to help students recover from pandemic-era learning losses, a study released Tuesday by the RAND Corp. said. The recent push in some states to adopt rigorous, standards-aligned instructional materials might also be contributing to this trend. Additionally, federal K-12 emergency funding for learning recovery may have driven greater use of new instructional materials.
The growing focus on play in older grades is not always easy, as teachers contend with pressure to meet standardized testing mandates and a lack of support from some administrators. But educators who have turned to play-based learning say the approach is particularly helpful now, as pandemic disruptions have left students with social, emotional and behavioral gaps. It can be difficult to explain what play-based learning looks like, said Mara Krechevsky, senior researcher at Project Zero, an education research group in Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Through their research, Krechevsky’s group came up with three basic tenets for playful learning: students should be able to help lead their own learning, explore the unknown, and find joy.
For many children, it was the pandemic that took something away. Most at Natchaug Elementary in Windham, Connecticut come from working-class families and qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Some lost loved ones to COVID. Many saw parents lose work. And, in schools across the country last year, that kind of stress followed kids back to class and has led to all kinds of disruptive behaviors. That's the bad news. The good news is kids can be incredibly resilient, especially when they've got help – like the kind these first-graders are about to get from a research-backed group of puppeteers.
Despite having some experience with the internet, students in grades 3 to 8 may not know how best to find the information they’re looking for. Sharing keyword search strategies, brainstorming search terms, posting common search queries, modeling troubleshooting, and even exploring voice-to-text options can help students strengthen their navigation skills.
Social-emotional learning has run into some political roadblocks recently, but teachers overwhelmingly say that it has a positive impact on students’ academic outcomes. Eighty-three percent of 824 educators—including teachers, principals, and district leaders—surveyed by the EdWeek Research Center from Sept. 28 to Oct. 17 said they believe that SEL helps students master academic skills. Among that group, 51 percent said they found SEL “somewhat” helpful for academic learning, while 32 percent said it was “very” helpful. Just 3 percent said it had a negative influence on academic learning. Another 14 percent said its impact was neutral.
With challenging elementary standards and kindergarten readiness assessments looming, some may question whether educators should be spending so much time on play. But child development experts agree that this type of playful activity is exactly what young students should be doing every day— now more than ever since young children lost crucial opportunities to play and build social and pre-academic skills during the pandemic.
“Teachers have been trained since the 1940s to teach kids at their levels — without any real research support,” said Timothy Shanahan, a renowned literacy expert and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “It makes sense to go slow and low to allow kids an opportunity to master the earliest decoding abilities. However, from Grade 2 on, I think we have made some bad choices — and more and more, the research is showing that kids learn more from working with more challenging texts.” Amid the deepening literacy crisis, many are beginning to question the wisdom of pigeonholing young readers. Critics say it’s high time the school system began rethinking leveled reading. What if leveled reading doesn’t boost learning after all? What if it just holds children back?
It’s never too young to be inspired by Maya Angelou, Virginia Woolf and the “daring original” Ruth Krauss.
Through guided play, exploration, relationships, and conversations, kindergarten teachers can transform learning for children from something teacher-directed and constrained to something engaging and interactive. But to do this well, educators need enabling state and local policies, appropriate resources and environments, and supportive schools.
Carey Arensberg, an elementary school teacher in Alabama, uses a “reflections of me” lesson to teach her 4th grade students about kindness, empathy, and the power of words. The lesson starts with watching a video. Then students share what they think is special about themselves, and their classmates follow up with what they think is special about that student. Arensberg shared the lesson in a popular TikTok video and discussed how it helps build better relationships among the students and encourages more positive behavior. Here, she explains how she leads the lesson, and how she prepares her class for it by teaching them about the power of their words.
The 10 winners of The New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books Award are chosen each year by a rotating panel of three expert judges. On the 2022 panel were Emily Jenkins, a prolific children’s author; Maggie Craig, a children’s librarian at the New York Public Library; and Raúl Colón, an award-winning illustrator of many acclaimed picture books (and a two-time recipient of this award). As they’ve done since 1952, when The Times began presenting the award, the judges consider every illustrated children’s book published this year in the United States.
About 61 percent of school and district leaders said in an EdWeek Research Center survey this fall that they expect funding and resources for SEL to increase over the next two years. But how can schools ensure that those investments are sustainable and lead to results? Education Week spoke with three districts that have been implementing social-emotional learning districtwide for at least a decade to learn what has worked, what hasn’t, and what are the key elements to success. Among them: getting input from students, figuring out how to measure the seemingly unmeasurable, and focusing on adult SEL. One key recommendation is to show teachers and principals how to develop SEL skills that they can model for students.
You’re driving down the road with your kids in the car, on the way to soccer, piano, karate or whatnot, and you see a familiar red, octagonal sign. What do you do? STOP. That red octagon means “stop,” of course, but it is also means, “Stop, phonological awareness opportunity!” OK, so that’s a mouthful. And what is phonological awareness? Simply put, it is the ability to work with sounds in spoken language. Children do this naturally, and you can encourage their experiments with sound by showing them that print is everywhere. All those squiggly shapes are letters, that stand for sounds, that come together to make words.
Instead of matching students to texts they can breeze through, literacy guru Tim Shanahan says that students should be engaging with challenging texts that push them out of their comfort zones. Shanahan notes that many teachers shy away from this approach, fearing that challenging students might undermine their motivation to read altogether. But he argues that students will become motivated as they see themselves making progress on more and more challenging texts, growing and strengthening their muscles as readers in the process.
Districts have incorporated social-emotional-learning principles into programs and curricula for decades as an effort to teach students how to manage emotions, achieve goals, show empathy, and build strong relationships. But there is still plenty of room for improvement. Eighty-six percent of teachers, principals, and school district leaders told the EdWeek Research Center that their schools or districts teach social-emotional learning. Putting in place SEL programs that are effective depends on a few key factors, including how they’re implemented, whether the needs of all students are being considered, and whether the program is universal, researchers say.
Freedom Fire, a new middle-grade imprint headed by Kwame Mbalia, bestselling author of the Tristan Strong trilogy, is in the works at Disney-Hyperion. The imprint will feature stories of Black resilience and Black joy, written by Black creators, and is tentatively scheduled to debut in spring 2024. Mbalia said that after his success with Tristan Strong and in editing the anthology Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood, he felt called to go beyond writing and help to nurture talent in other authors, particularly those of the African diaspora.
Children’s books — particularly picture books — that tackle the subject of war in sensitive and reassuring ways are rare. Figuring out how to explain such morbid business to children presents a serious challenge for authors and illustrators. If they truthfully depict death and destruction, they risk increasing children’s fears. If they offer false and improbable scenarios, they risk children’s mistrust. The encouraging news is that a growing number of publishers are finding effective ways to address this subject without diminishing its gravity.
Teachers sing songs about Teachers College Columbia professor Lucy Calkins. She’s one of the most influential people in American elementary education today. Her admirers call her books bibles. Why didn't she know that scientific research contradicted reading strategies she promoted? This podcast is part of the American Public Media series Sold a Story: How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong.
November is Native American Heritage Month, the perfect time to stock up on children’s books by Native American and Indigenous authors and to support Native American and Indigenous authors by buying, reading, and recommending their books, though to be clear, it’s always a good time to be reading children’s books by Native American and Indigenous authors. It is also so important to make sure the books you’re reading to kids with Native American characters are written by Native American authors. Too often, children’s books by non-Native and Indigenous authors depict stereotypes about Native and Indigenous cultures or suggest that Native and Indigenous culture is a thing of the past, not a living, breathing, growing present reality.
Los Angeles Unified schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho said that the district is working to “expand our implementation of the science of teaching reading,” emphasizing the need for early elementary teachers to be trained in evidence-based practices and for struggling students to have access to extra support. “I believe that if we are going to follow science, and we should, then we should really embrace all science, including the science of reading,” Carvalho said. He called on school districts to take action and on educator preparation programs to instruct teachers in evidence-based approaches.
It is common for my students to sit tall for long vowels and scrunch for short ones because acting out the syllable types cements their learning. Syllable types are spelling patterns that help the reader identify the pronunciation of the vowel. Students can see the patterns, and the addition of embodied learning helps them retain and recall the knowledge more efficiently. Research has shown that when students represent the information that they are learning spatially, like what happens with embodied learning, they use less working memory, making it easier to think.
A roomful of second graders spent a recent fall morning learning about a bossy mother named “Mama E” who follows her kids around reminding them to say their names. Peter and his classmates were learning a rule about the English language that they applied over and over that day — when reading and writing “hope,” “cute,” “tape,” and “slide.” Such lessons reflect both a districtwide and statewide shift in how children are taught to read in Colorado.
Now is the time for schools to again teach young people the fundamentals of what it means to be informed and engaged members of this self-governing society, and what is needed if the country is going to recover from the current polarization and discontent. The Civics Secures Democracy Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation, would infuse states with $1 billion annually over the next five years to enhance instruction in civics and U.S. history. The bill, reintroduced in the Senate this summer, would invest federal funds to improve social studies education, leaving to local districts and states decisions about what is taught, and how.
As a child, Cynthia Leitich Smith spent every Saturday at the public library in her Kansas City neighborhood. She would leave with stacks of books, but none of them reflected her culture. During Smith’s childhood in the 1970s and 1980s, that wasn’t unusual. Children’s books by Indigenous creators were hard to find, and books about Native people by white authors were often filled with stereotypes and factual inaccuracies. Part of Smith’s work with Heartdrum, a Native imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books, is to find Native authors and illustrators and support them in preparing their work for publication.
The state of Mississippi has been slowly improving since a 2013 overhaul led to big changes in how schools teach reading. Mississippi’s success can be attributed to multiple efforts—a new state education leader, Carey Wright, who reorganized the entire education department to focus on literacy and more rigorous standards; a big investment in teacher training in the ‘science of reading’; and two 2013 laws, one appropriating state dollars to fund pre-k, and the other requiring all third graders to pass the “reading gate” assessment or risk being held back.
Children account for roughly a third of the world’s population. But the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that a full 41 percent of people forcibly displaced by violence, human rights violations, environmental disasters or other serious disturbances are children. Five new picture books explore glimmers of their experiences.
Learning new vocabulary is a fundamental part of understanding math concepts. Math class doesn’t seem like the most obvious choice for word walls, glossary lists, and word of the day games. But a strong understanding of math terms is essential for mastering concepts—meaning strategies for building robust vocabulary are surprisingly useful.
Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to literacy practices across content areas, there are small, but effective shifts teachers can make to get students practicing the domain-specific skills they need. For example, literacy strategies in a science class should focus on getting students to use precise vocabulary, compose in a passive voice, and favor exactness over elaboration. Meanwhile, students in history class should prioritize learning how to efficiently synthesize information from multiple sources, organize ideas, facts, and evidence, and write in an argumentative manner that prioritizes meaningful connections between disparate information over the sort of evocative, figurative writing that might be prized in an ELA classroom.
Gene Luen Yang is the winner of the 2023 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's and Young Adult Literature, World Literature Today has announced. He is the first graphic novelist to win the prestigious award. Yang's 2006 release American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award and the first to win the Printz Award.
The average U.S. student lost more than half a year of learning in math, and nearly a quarter of a year in reading since 2019. Children in low-income areas were most affected, but advocates hope this data can direct funding to students facing the largest setbacks.
President George W. Bush made improving reading instruction a priority. He got Congress to provide money to schools that used reading programs supported by scientific research. But backers of Marie Clay’s cueing idea saw Bush’s Reading First initiative as a threat. This podcast is part of the series Sold a Story: How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong.
Sixty years ago, Marie Clay developed a way to teach reading she said would help kids who were falling behind. They’d catch up and never need help again. Today, her program remains popular and her theory about how people read is at the root of a lot of reading instruction in schools. But Marie Clay was wrong. This podcast is part of the series Sold a Story: How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong.
Last year, one of the biggest figures in U.S. literacy instruction announced plans to revise her curriculum program that would mark a significant shift in how the materials guide teachers to approach early reading. Now, the new version of the program is here. And while the materials have undergone large-scale changes, reading researchers and educators who have reviewed excerpts offer mixed reviews on their potential to shift classroom instruction — some worry that the new version doesn’t explicitly distance itself enough from disproven practices. The literacy leader in question is Lucy Calkins, the Teachers College, Columbia University professor whose well-known Units of Study for Teaching Reading are used by about 16 percent of K-2 teachers.
Outdoor play is linked to improved outcomes in children’s social-emotional, cognitive, and physical development as well as academic gains. Outdoor learning environments (OLEs) where educators use their training, professional development, and technical assistance to engage young children help these spaces promote structured and unstructured physical activity, play, and discovery. Improving OLEs in child care centers and homes is a low-cost and high-impact strategy for improving program quality, educator well-being, and children’s learning and health. Yet few child care programs receive the funding, guidance, or support to improve their outdoor settings beyond minimum health and safety requirements.
More than half of the 2,500 students in the small Russellville city school district, located in northern Alabama, now identify as Hispanic or Latino, and about a quarter are English language learners, or EL students. But the district at times has struggled to find the people and funding necessary to help EL students achieve. Russellville leaders now are using a historic amount of COVID-19 relief money to fund a bold experiment. They’re using the temporary funds to hire and certify more local, Spanish-speaking staff, like Ms. Alfaro. She was previously a Spanish teacher, but took a new role as an EL teacher. In addition to helping more local students succeed, Russellville aims to be a model for the rest of the state.
A set of new literacy standards and teaching performance expectations, approved by the California commission that issues teaching credentials, should ensure all universities are on the same page when it comes to training future educators. The literacy standards, mandated by state legislation, put a greater emphasis on teaching foundational reading skills that include phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, and fluency. The new standards also included support for struggling readers, English learners, and pupils with exceptional needs. The California Dyslexia Guidelines have been incorporated for the first time.
It’s a disservice to students, especially those who are historically disadvantaged, to center summer programming on remediating skills not learned during the school year, said speakers at a National Summer Learning Association conference session Wednesday. Rather, every day students spend in school over the summer months should include high quality instruction that engages students’ and teachers’ passions, aims for accelerating skills, and blends academics and enrichment, the speakers said.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) recently announced awards of nearly $120 million over five years under the National Professional Development Program (NPD) to support educators of multilingual learners. Professional development activities may include teacher education programs and training that lead to certification, licensing, or endorsement for providing instruction to students learning English.
Academic achievement in Massachusetts, historically the highest achieving state in the nation, fell so much during the pandemic that the state’s eighth graders now score below those in New Jersey in reading, and in math, an 11-point drop nearly ties Massachusetts with Utah. Meanwhile, students in the Department of Defense school system appeared not to miss a beat. Large cities – despite their poverty – were generally more resilient than the rest of their states, especially in middle school reading. Some states and cities fared better than others. Georgia, Iowa and Alabama, for example, lost a lot less ground than Delaware, West Virginia and Oklahoma. But there were no easy explanations and no clear connections between policy decisions on remote learning and how much academic achievement suffered.
Students’ reading achievement in both 4th and 8th grades fell three points during the pandemic, according to the tests known as the Nation’s Report Card. The decline put the nation’s students roughly on par with students’ reading achievement in the first state-level National Assessment of Educational Progress in 1992. Three takeaways: (1) young students show some signs of bouncing back this fall, but there’s a long way to go; (2) reading teachers are more comfortable with virtual instruction, but not closing learning gaps; and (3) intensive tutoring may not have gained as much ground as intended.
The pandemic has smacked American students back to the last century in math and reading achievement, according to the tests known as the Nation’s Report Card. Results for students who took the test in spring 2022—the first main National Assessment of Educational Progress administration for these grades since the pandemic began—show the biggest drop in math performance in 4th and 8th grades since the testing program began in 1990. In reading, 4th and 8th graders likewise are performing on par with students in the 1990s, and about a third of students in both grades can’t read at even the “basic” achievement level—the lowest level on the test. Academic declines on NAEP were sweeping, spanning low-income and wealthier students, boys and girls, and most racial or ethnic groups in both subjects and grades.
Math and reading scores for students across the country are down following years of disrupted learning during the pandemic. On Monday, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation's Report Card, released a full report for the first time since 2019; the results show a slight dip in reading scores and a drop in math. While reading scores stayed more steady – dipping only about 3 points in both grade levels compared to 2019 – reading proficiency has been trending down in the past couple cycles.
Students who learned to read during the pandemic are still performing below those who were in early grades before schools closed — in some cases, well below, new data shows. Fifty-three percent of second graders are on track in reading this fall, compared to 57% in 2019, according to Amplify, a curriculum provider. In first grade, the decline is greater — 8 percentage points. There’s also some good news: The percentage of students in kindergarten through second grade reading on grade level is slightly higher than last year. But the rate in third grade dropped. And almost a third of those students need “intensive intervention,” like small group instruction or a double block of time on literacy during the school day, according to the results.
A focus on improving students’ critical reading skills, while essential, is missing from many conversations about student success. Even as the nation has focused growing attention on how to improve success rates for underserved students in general, and first-generation students in particular, I’ve been struck by the absence of any mention of students’ critical reading skills in these conversations. The need to help students better develop their critical reading skills in a more focused and sustained way is urgent and likely to become even more urgent in the coming years as students whose educations were interrupted by the COVID pandemic enter our classrooms.
Substantial research demonstrates the positive impacts of parent engagement on children’s academic achievement and social-emotional development. When family members model the social-emotional skills through their parenting practices, they help reinforce what children are learning at school. When surrounded by positive social-emotional support, students are much more likely to develop important skills that lead to improved peer relationships and social skills. But creating this sort of positive environment doesn’t just happen—it requires an intentional partnership among schools, families, and communities. And by investing in these multidirectional partnerships, schools have the opportunity to learn from families that are the experts in their children’s lives.
A new podcast from APM Reports investigates how an idea about reading instruction proliferated in classrooms even though it was proven wrong by cognitive scientists decades ago. Teaching methods based on this idea can make it harder for children to learn how to read. In this podcast series, education reporter Emily Hanford investigates the influential authors who promote this idea and the company that sells their work. It's an exposé of how educators came to believe in something that isn't true and are now reckoning with the consequences — children harmed, money wasted, an education system upended.