It’s Time to Use Reading Science!

This APM Reports documentary by Emily Hanford Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read? is a really thought provoking piece about how children read and how kids and families land in the middle of the tug of war over how kids read – phonics vs. whole language still at it. We can all agree that everyone needs to learn how to read. When we examine prison populations and reading literacy rates we starkly see why. Better readers do better. Is reading natural? If we just give kids lots of books, is that enough? Where does phonics fit in? For how long? The education community does not agree.  I am a scientist at heart. I must follow the science of reading to formulate my bottom line.

Reading instruction must be dynamic and include phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. Reading is natural for some but not others especially if you have a processing difference like dyslexia or are coping with trauma. Kids need support with phonics blending AND they need to learn whole words. Real tasks that use real texts across content areas to build background knowledge is essential for ongoing vocabulary development and reading comprehension.

Here are my Top 5 Reading Tips Based on Reading Science:

1. Phonics is ESSENTIAL through at least 1st grade and should continue as needed through strategic grouping.
2. Spelling instruction is important but should never hold students back from new learning or be overdone.
3. Word study or morphology with roots, prefixes and suffixes teaches kids to crack the code as they develop as readers starting in 3rd grade especially when gamified.
4. Leveled, “just right books” can limit access to and practice with complex language so beware.
5. Science, social studies, art and music build students general content knowledge and develop and even accelerate reading comprehension skills.

Need help developing your reading approach based on reading science? Let me know. I can help.

skirkman@ask-edcuation.org

Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 10.52.08 AMBuilding Blocks of Reading

 

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It’s A-G Course Submission Time!

The University of California’s annual “a-g” course submission period is February 1 – September 15 and the May 31st Phase 1 deadline is fast approaching.
In order for students to accomplish their a-g requirements to be eligible for UC, high schools must submit course descriptions for approval in order for the course offering to “count”  so timely submission and approval is imperative for our students.  A-g Course Descriptions are essential to robust Programs of Study and also can be opportunities for teachers to collaborate on curriculum development and can support instructional coherence. The AG Course Management Portal has an extensive list of already approved Course Descriptions that schools can adopt and provides anytime access to:
  • Draft and submit new “a-g” course
  • Check the status of course submissions
  • Search and view “a-g” approved courses
  • Update your institution’s demographic information

Another amazing resource for a-g approved Course Descriptions is University of California Curriculum Integration (UCCI). UCCI Course Descriptions have the distinction of being “integrated” with Core Content + CTE industry themes. While these course were mainly designed to be used in College & Career Pathways, any CA high school can adopt them.

 I have had the opportunity to write approved descriptions and also to build out the approved courses into fleshed out units and have found the work so rewarding. Here is a link to some of the work I coordinated: tinyurl.com/UCCICourses2015

 

Teachers collaborating on Curriculum development is the best professional development in my view! #learningbydoing