The reading world was recently rocked by an article from esteemed reporter, Emily Hanford. The longtime maven of whole language, Lucy Calkins, admitted she needed to change her Units of Study after decades of context clues, guessing at words, picture walks, and dismissing the science of reading. Of course, Calkins promptly responded with a statement that essentially tried to take credit for always being a phonics-minded practitioner (despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary). When you look at the latest NAEP data, the influence of decades of whole language-oriented instruction being the dominant pedagogy in the United States is readily apparent. According to this new data, roughly 63%…
- Balanced Literacy, Decoding, Dyslexia, Ed School, Fluency, Learning Disabilities, NAEP, Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Precision Teaching, Reading Instruction, Reading Wars, Science of Reading, Teacher Training, Whole Language
The Detachment of Literacy from Reading
In a 2017 interview with Columbia linguistics professor John McWhorter, the cognitive scientist Mark Seidenberg (author of Language at the Speech of Sight) described the transition from discussions of “reading” to ones of “literacy” in education circles over the last few decades. I think that by now, the use of the latter term is now taken entirely for granted, but it’s not a minor point at all—it’s actually quite major, and it highlights the gap between public perception of the issues at play and the reality of them. I suspect that when most people hear the term “literacy,” they understand it as a synonym for “reading,” in the sense that a…
- Decoding, Dyslexia, Fluency, Learning Disabilities, Lucy Calkins, Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Precision Teaching, Reading Instruction, Reading Workshop, Science of Reading, Teacher Training, Three Cueing System, Whole Language
A Child is Not a Mollusk
In some sense, without evidence-based instruction, a child could be more like a mollusk in that they will withdraw from the learning process and build a shell to protect themselves from the emotional anguish of feeling less-than in the classroom.
- 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.
- 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.
Whole Language is Rote Memorization
A couple of days ago, I got curious about the state of phonics instruction in New York City schools and started googling away. I learned all sorts of fascinating things about the respective reigns of Joel Klein and Carmen Farina, and about the ongoing and pernicious influence of Lucy Calkins/Reading Workshop and Columbia Teachers College. I also came across a well-intentioned an article in Chalkbeat about the struggles of some Brooklyn parents to get their dyslexic children into appropriate programs. The content of the article was disheartening but fairly predictable—what I found more interesting was the semantic confusion the writers displayed in a discussion of balanced literacy vs. phonics, and it got me thinking…