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  1. Sep 2018
    1. There is no debate at this point among scientists that reading is a skill that needs to be explicitly taught by showing children the ways that sounds and letters correspond.
    2. But the science shows clearly that when reading instruction is organized around a defined progression of concepts about how speech is represented by print, kids become better readers. There is also widespread support in the research for the effectiveness of teacher-directed lessons as opposed to letting children discover key concepts about reading on their own.
    3. A big part of the problem is at the university level, in schools of education, according to the authors of a 2016 article in the Journal of Childhood & Developmental Disorders. "Faculty have ignored the scientific knowledge that informs reading acquisition," the authors wrote. "As a result, the pre-service teachers who are being educated at these institutions fail to receive the necessary training."
    4. The battle between whole language and phonics got so heated that the U.S. Congress eventually got involved, convening a National Reading Panel to review all the research on reading. In 2000, the panel released a report. The sum of the research showed that explicitly teaching children the relationship between sounds and letters improved reading achievement. The panel concluded that phonics lessons help kids become better readers. There is no evidence to say the same about whole language.
    5. Another big takeaway from decades of scientific research is that, while we use our eyes to read, the starting point for reading is sound. What a child must do to become a reader is to figure out how the words she hears and knows how to say connect to letters on the page. Writing is a code humans invented to represent speech sounds. Kids have to crack that code to become readers.
    6. We are born wired to talk. Kids learn to talk by being talked to, by being surrounded with spoken language. That's all it takes. No one has to teach them to talk.But, as numerous studies have shown, reading is different. Our brains don't know how to do it. That's because human beings didn't invent written language until relatively recently in human history, just a few thousand years ago. To be able to read, structures in our brain that were designed for things such as object recognition have to get rewired a bit.
    7. The prevailing approaches to reading instruction in American schools are inconsistent with basic things scientists have discovered about how children learn to read. Many educators don't know the science, and in some cases actively resist it. The resistance is the result of beliefs about reading that have been deeply held in the educational establishment for decades, even though those beliefs have been proven wrong by scientists over and over again.