Teaching reading correctly

The reading wars may finally be at an end as a result of events in Mississippi (“There Is a Right Way to Teach Reading, and Mississippi Knows It,” The New York Times, Dec. 6).  The state has made sure that its teachers understand the science of reading.

The operative word is “science.”  In 2013, the state’s legislators provided funding to train its teachers what that means.  It comes down to a formula: decoding ability x language comprehension = reading comprehension.  Phonics encompasses decoding, but it alone is not enough.  Children can learn how to sound out letters but still not understand what the word means.  To do the latter, children need to be given activities that widen their meaning.

Since training teachers, Mississippi has seen its 4th graders now reading at the national average, while every other state’s 4th graders made no significant progress on this year’s test or actually lost ground.  I realize that correlation is not causation, but I submit that the science of reading warrants far greater attention by other states.

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2 Replies to “Teaching reading correctly”

  1. Might I add that three components need to be in place for kids to be able to read/decode. 1) crossing the midline 2) understanding what a symbol is 3) being able to keep a steady beat (the ability to have an inner sense of timing is crucial and often overlooked) – check out Dr. Nina Kraus’ studies on beat and reading fluency. As a teaching artist through the Kennedy Center and the Los Angeles Music Center, I have helped improve kids’ reading through their acquisition of steady beat through music and movement. I developed a free resource for teachers/parents/kids to help them practice and gain this important skill as sadly, fewer and fewer kindergartener’s come to school with this skill intact. Please feel free to share my free and interactive video. https://bit.ly/2qN3KMt Further info on reading/beat can be found on http://www.joppity.com Thanks for your excellent blog!

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    1. Beth: Many thanks for this important information. I learned to read by phonics, following along as the teacher read aloud to us. You have an interesting approach. By the way, my letter to the editor appeared in today’s (Dec. 31) Los Angeles Times about PISA, which tests among other things reading.

      Walt

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