• Decoding,  Dyslexia,  Fluency,  Learning Disabilities,  Phonemic Awareness,  Phonics,  Precision Teaching,  Reading Instruction,  Science of Reading,  Teacher Training,  Uncategorized,  Whole Language

    Of Fluency and Fritters

    t’s been clear for a long time that something is very wrong with the way reading is taught, but if we genuinely want things to change, we need to take a hard look at what actually works—and building fluency beyond a doubt does so. We owe it to students to get this right: their success in high school and beyond depends on it.

  • Uncategorized

    Seeking Participants for Science of Reading Instructor Training

    Breaking the Code is seeking two initial groups (one teachers, one parents) of approximately 6-8 individuals looking for a crash course/bootcamp in teaching decoding skills according to research-backed principles.  The recent explosion of interest in the science of reading is obviously a welcome and heartening development, but we also realize that the glut of information now available can easily become overwhelming, and that asking teachers and parents to sift through it all and educate themselves—while continuing to juggle their many other responsibilities—is a very tall order.  Contrary to popular belief, we know from experience that learning to teach reading efficiently and effectively is not actually rocket science; however, there is…

  • Decoding,  Dyslexia,  Fluency,  Phonemic Awareness,  Phonics,  Reading Instruction,  Sight Words,  Three Cueing System,  Whole Language

    Tipping The Scale on Fountas & Pinnell

    Fountas and Pinnell, as well as other balanced literacy programs, places a great deal of emphasis on this guided approach to reading and group work because, fundamentally, they see reading as a social activity, rather than an individual’s ability to decode text, something that happens in the confines of the brain in the reading circuit.

  • Uncategorized

    When Should Beginning Readers Use Context Clues?

    One of the most serious, and most persistent, misconceptions in the world of reading early reading instruction involves the use of context clues. Regardless of whether they are explicitly taught an incorrect interpretation of three/multi-cueing system or simply absorb its tenets in graduate school or via professional development, many teachers of beginning readers erroneously learn that children should focus primarily on beginning/ending letters and then use a variety of guess-and-check methods (e.g., picture clues, other information in the text) to make educated guesses about unfamiliar words.  If you’re not familiar with the research, a reliance on context clues has been identified as a compensatory strategy for weak decoding skills (Nicholson,…

  • Reading Instruction

    Boys Are Falling Behind in Reading Worldwide

    The following article was written by Valerie Erde of Veridian Prep and is cross-posted from that website. Houston, we have a problem.  Our boys and young men are falling behind generally in educational attainment.  In fact, worldwide, women are enrolling in college and universities at much higher rates, are achieving higher grades in college, and completing degrees at higher rates than their male peers.  One explanation for this disparity is that between the ages of 15-24, boys especially lag their female peers in reading and writing skills – skills necessary for strong performance in high school courses, on standardized tests, and in more rigorous college-level work. If you’re thinking “oh,…

  • Fluency,  Reading Instruction

    Put a Finger on It! How Finger-Tracking Can Help Improve Children’s Reading

    As adults, we tend to take a lot of things about reading for granted.      For example, it’s obvious to us when book cover belongs in the front vs. the back. And everyone knows that English text is read from top to bottom and from left to right.  What we forget, however, is that children don’t come into the world automatically knowing these things; they have to be taught, either indirectly (from observing adults and older children read) or directly (from being taught by a caregiver or a teacher).  Even if children understand these aspects of reading well before they begin school, the actual act of turning squiggles on a page…

  • Phonemic Awareness,  Phonics

    Phonology, Phonemes, and Phonics

    Phonology Phonology is the system of speech sounds that make up a language.  Phonological awareness is the ability to recognize and distinguish between sounds in a language. It involves hearing only.  It allows people to do the following:  Count words in a sentence Count syllables in a word Identify rhymes Identify the sounds in a word  Manipulate sounds (e.g., replace the “g” in got with an “n”).  Phonological awareness has different levels.  For example, counting the words in a sentence and identifying rhymes requires a lower level of phonological awareness, whereas counting the syllables in a word requires a higher level.  Identifying sounds in a word and manipulating (adding to or deleting) those sounds…

  • Reading Instruction,  Science of Reading,  Teacher Training,  Three Cueing System

    The Science of Reading: 5 Key Concepts

    The Science of Reading has been in the news a lot recently, and not surprisingly, many people (including a lot of teachers) find the sheer amount of information it involves overwhelming. So, the basics: the Science of Reading is not a movement or a belief system. It is a vast body of research based on hundreds of studies conducted by dozens of researchers over many decades, and involving fields in the social and hard sciences such as psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience. While researchers still have questions about the exact processes by which skilled reading develops, a sufficient number of studies have produced similar results to allow them to conclude that…

  • Decoding,  Learning Disabilities,  Phonics,  Three Cueing System

    10 Signs of a Decoding Problem

    Written English is a code in which letters and groups of letters are used to stand for sounds, and to be able to read, children must learn to break it—literally, to de-code it. Although skilled reading involves many factors, decoding ability is the foundation on which it rests; after all, it is impossible to pay attention to meaning unless one knows what the words say! The following list is intended to indicate some key warnings signs that may indicate a decoding problem. It is not, however, intended to be used a source for any particular diagnosis. Keep in mind that children learn to read at varying rates, and that some…

  • Phonics,  Teacher Training

    What Does It Mean to Be “Phonetic”?

    One of the most common justifications for not teaching reading as a code in which letters correspond to sounds is that written English contains too many exceptions, and that attempting to teach them all will only lead to confusion. In reality, however, the vast majority of English words are spelled phonetically (50%) or contain only one irregular sound, usually a vowel (36%). (Research also indicates that children can often infer the identities of many common words with slightly irregular misspellings.)  I recently posted these statistics on Facebook and received a predictably snarky response of “How many perfectly phonetic words are in this post?” as if the point of the post…