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The Best Methods for Teaching Reading in Kindergarten

The Best Methods for Teaching Reading in Kindergarten

Best Methods for Teaching Reading in Kindergarten
Image Source: Unsplash

Reading is one of the most important skills children need to learn in school. Reading gives them knowledge about the world and helps them learn about subjects such as science and history. It also helps them with their future studies and career options. As such, teaching how to read is one of the most important subjects in the earlier grades. In fact, it’s one of the first subjects children learn. Reading is foundational, and it’s one of the first skills children begin learning. In order to teach how to read, you must make sure your students have the tools they need. Different methods can be used to help children become better readers. This article explores the best methods for teaching reading in kindergarten.

 

Teach Phonics

 

Phonics is one of the best methods for teaching in kindergarten. Even if a child learns to read words by sight, they still need to know how to use phonics. Phonics teaches children about how words are pronounced and what the word’s letters sound like. Even if children learn to decode words by sight, they still need to know how to use phonics, which teach them about how words are pronounced and what the words’ letters sound like. For example, “K-I-T” is pronounced as “kit,” while “C-A-T” is pronounced as “cat.” After they learn these rules, children can figure out which letter corresponds with each sound, so they can read any word correctly.

 

Help Kindergarten students Build Their Vocabulary

 

One of the best ways to teach reading is by helping children build their own vocabulary. A large vocabulary leads to a better comprehension and proficiency in all language arts skills—not just reading, but also writing and spelling. Children need to know at least 5,000 words before they start kindergarten, experts say. It’s important for kindergarten teachers to focus on teaching their students new words and expanding their vocabulary. This can be done through games that use word cards or through word work activities. In this way, children will learn new words with meaning and context as they play these games or complete these activities.

 

Teach Sentence Repetition

 

One way to teach children how to read is by using sentence repetition. With this method, children repeat sentences as they are read. The sentences should be short and simple at first. As students get better at repeating the sentences, the sentences can get more complex. This may take a little practice on their part but it is worth it in the long-run. In order to teach reading, you need to know what methods work best for your students. Some people might find sentence repetition more helpful than others so you’ll want to experiment with different methods until you find one that works for your class.

 

Give Fluent Reading Practice

 

The fluency of a reader depends on how quickly, smoothly, and accurately they read. The more fluent the reading is, the easier it will be for the student to comprehend what they are reading. Fluent readers can use context clues to figure out unfamiliar words and comprehend what they are reading without having to rely on their teacher or parent. One of the best methods for teaching how to read in kindergarten is giving your students fluent reading practice. Letting them read books out loud to you while you follow along with the text helps develop this ability. This type of fluent reading practice also allows them to get feedback on their pronunciation, which can help them improve as a reader. For example, telling your students when they mispronounce a word, or when they don't read fluently enough can be very helpful in improving their skills.

 

Have Daily Reading Rituals

 

The biggest thing you can do to help your students become better readers is have reading rituals in your classroom. Reading to students is one of the best methods to teach them how to read. As such, it should be a daily ritual at school and home. In order to have a successful reading ritual, you must make sure that the book or story is appropriate for the age group and skill level of the reader. For kindergarteners, books with simple sentences are typically best.

 

Conclusion

 

Reading is a critical skill. The best methods for teaching reading in kindergarten are to help the students build their vocabulary, teach sentence repetition, give fluent reading practice and have daily reading rituals. These methods will help them to read better, because with every new word they learn, students are also learning new sounds and building their fluency. This is why it is important to teach these methods to kindergarten students.

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Fast Phonics Games for Kids to Boost Their Reading Skills

Fast Phonics Games for Kids to Boost Their Reading Skills

Reading can be a difficult skill to master. From decoding new words to decoding passages, reading requires a lot of practice. Fortunately, there are games that can help kids practice their reading skills and build their confidence. These games range from reading comprehension games to phonics games that focus on reading fluency.

 

For kids who are having a hard time reading, playing these games can be a fun way to practice their skills and improve their reading comprehension. Here is a list of the best fast phonics games for kids to help them practice their reading and boost their confidence.

 

Sight Words Scramble

 

Sight words are the building blocks of reading. This fun sight words scramble game helps kids to practice recognizing and reading words in sequence. The first player to guessed all of the sight words in the scrambled sentences wins.

 

Kids will love this word scramble game because it’s fast-paced and engaging. If your child is having a difficult time with reading, this game can also be helpful in building their confidence as they try to tackle more advanced reading skills. In each turn of the game, one player reads a scrambled sentence. The other players try to guess the words. If a player gets a word correct, they can steal a letter from the word on the board and replace it with one of their own. If the word is guessed incorrectly, the player with the word can take a letter from the word on the board and replace it with one of their own.

 

Phonics Bingo

 

Bingo is a fun game that can be used for many different purposes. In this phonics bingo game, kids will practice recognizing and placing specific sounds in syllables. This bingo game is best for kids who are just learning how to read or are having a hard time with sounding out words. To play, each card has a picture of a different animal on it. In each column of the card, there are various sounds that the animal makes. The goal is to mark off the spaces on the bingo card that have the sounds that the animal makes. As players mark off cards, they will earn points. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

 

Reading Comprehension Games

 

Reading comprehension games are perfect for kids who are having a hard time understanding what they read. These games help improve a kid’s ability to comprehend what they read by using visual and auditory cues. These games can also be used to help kids stay focused when reading.

 

Here are a few examples of reading comprehension games:

 

Color-Word Games

 

These games will help your child stay focused while reading. The goal of these games is for the child to find the specific color that is mentioned in the word. To play, have the child read the word out loud. Then, have them draw a picture of the word. After the picture is complete, have them name the color that was mentioned in the word. Once the color is named, have them find the corresponding card and place it in the correct pile.

 

Phonics Games

 

These games will help your child practice their reading skills while having fun. There are many different types of phonics games out there, so it can be hard to know which ones to use. To help your child get started, here are a few basic phonics games that you can start with:

 

Find the Sound in This: This is a great early literacy game for kids. It helps build a child’s confidence as they practice recognizing letters and sounds.

 

Blind Man’s Bluff: In this game, one player is the “Bluffers,” and the other players are the “Bluffees.” The Bluffers start by saying a word out loud, and then the Bluffees have to guess what the word is using only their ears. This is another great game for building confidence.

 

Matching Game: This game is great for developing a child’s visual memory.

 

Word Searcher: This is a “find that” literacy game. It can help with reading comprehension by verbally requesting that a child find a specific word in a book.

 

Mosaic: This is a great game for developing a child’s concentration and patience.

 

Phonics Games

 

These games will help your child build their confidence while improving their reading skills.

 

Guess the Word:  This is a fun game where the objective is for the first person to guess the word to win. The player will say the first word that comes to mind when they hear the word that is being guessed. This can be a difficult game to play if words are a challenge for your child, but it is a great way to build confidence as they try to tackle more difficult reading situations.

 

Word Wall: This game is similar to pin the tail on the donkey. The only difference is that in this game your child will be placing words on a word wall. This is a great way to practice reading comprehension and also build confidence by achieving success.

 

Fluency Games

 

These games will help your child practice reading out loud and sounding out words.

 

Story Telling. This is a great way to build confidence while having fun. Have your child practice telling you stories while you try to be the audience. This is also a good way to work on your child’s storytelling skills.

 

Listen and Spell: In this game, you will be competing against your own voice. You will read a word out loud and then your job is to try and spell the word that you just read as fast as you can. This game is best played with a friend or two. Try listening to different speeds and tone of voices to practice reading out loud and sounding out words.

 

Reading Races: This is another fun way to practice sounding out words. The game is based on a “reading race,” and the last player who can’t pronounce the word loses. This is another good way to work on your child’s patience and they will learn to love losing.

 

Summing Up

 

Reading is a fundamental part of a child’s education, and it can be a difficult skill to master. Fortunately, there are many games that can help kids practice their reading and build their confidence. In this article you’ve been provided with a list of the best fast phonics games for kids to help them practice their reading and build their confidence.

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Access Level 1’s four interactive stories and the accompanying supplemental resources to teach elementary students how to read. No credit card is needed. Join the 42,635 teachers and students using our reading program.

Science of Reading for English-Language Learners: Where Are We Today?

Science of Reading for English-Language Learners: Where Are We Today?

Time to pick some apples: this week, we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week 2022. In honor of their efforts, we’re highlighting the commitment of teachers to a specific group of young readers: students who are learning English as a second language. Teachers face the dual challenge of crafting reading lessons that incorporate the science of reading and the unique needs of English-Language Learners students (ELLs), also called English Learners/ Emergent Bilingual (EL/EB) students. Today, we question whether - and how - the science of reading can work for ELLs and consider how schools and educators can best support them.

science of reading for english learner

Science of Reading for ELL Students

 

As of 2022, at least 17 states now encode the science of reading into law. While this is a positive step toward reading success for all students, many of these laws fail to address how revised literacy curricula will support ELL students. Partially in response to these legislative changes, the National Committee for Effective Literacy (NCEL) was formed in February 2022 to answer a pressing question: where do English learners need more tailored reading support relative to native English speakers?

 

A foundational 2006 report by the National Reading Panel indicated that the five essential components of reading - phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension - were useful for a majority of students and had “clear benefits” for ELL students. Relative to native English speakers, ELLs are likely to need more opportunities to speak English, listen to other English speakers, and practice their vocabulary and syntax. Language researchers emphasize the need to discuss the meanings of words with all students, but especially those learning English. English is a notoriously tricky language, and words with multiple meanings - “run,” “park,” “date,” and “play,” just to name a few - will need to be reviewed frequently with ELL students in both reading and speaking formats.

reading books

Reading Strategies and Resources for ELL Students

 

In an idealized classroom, early reading instruction would combine the five essential components of reading with additional support from trained bilingual intervention teachers. In consideration of budget and staff constraints, however, this scenario is not possible in many elementary classrooms. Despite the barriers faced by both students and educators, our three takeaways highlight the advocacy, reading materials, and overall mindset that teachers can adopt to provide high-quality reading instruction to EL/EB students.

 

  1. Support dual-language programs. Research suggests that teaching students to read in their first language can actually enhance their English reading skills and their sociocultural development. In terms of their accessibility and curricula, many dual-language programs are still in their infancy; nevertheless, the rise of bilingual programs creates more opportunity for students to thrive as readers and writers in their native, non-English language(s).
  2. Recognize that literacy is not just about phonics. Holistically, reading and writing empower students to express themselves and understand their environments and peers more deeply. As they learn to express themselves and understand others through creative collaboration and conversation, a student’s world can expand through the acquisition of vocabulary and overall confidence.
  3. The Internet is a resource. While your school may not offer or be a part of a dual-language program, this does not mean that EL/EB students are left behind. The digital NCEL publication dives deep into effective literacy education for English Learners. NCEL and other online ELL resources offer strategies to support ELLs in the mainstream classroom, with a continual emphasis on comprehension: both on the page and in verbal communication with peers and teachers.
science of reading for elementary students

To our reading teachers: we wish you a happy Teacher Appreciation Week 2022, and another year of guiding all students - English learners included! - to reach their reading goals.

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Access Level 1’s four interactive stories and the accompanying supplemental resources to teach elementary students how to read. No credit card is needed. Join the 42,635 teachers and students using our reading program.

From Reading to Writing: 2 Ways to Support Young Writers At-Home

From Reading to Writing: 2 Ways to Support Young Writers At-Home

At Reading Teacher, we emphasize the foundational literacy skills that will help students become lifelong readers. Although we might not think about our students becoming lifelong writers, the ability to write is an equally important and challenging skill to develop. From the first moment they pick up a book, teachers and parents can honor the connection between reading and writing and support a child toward becoming a thoughtful, effective writer.

 

But what does early writing support look like? Like reading, writing skills develop early and gradually: a child’s writing typically starts with scribbling and progresses to more letter-like shapes and random strings of letters. As a parent, you may worry that your child is not progressing quickly enough in the writing department; but when we consult the science of early literacy, it’s completely normal for young writers to produce incomprehensible scribbles for a period of time.

Picture-1.png

Early Writing Activity #1: Time to Write!

 

You can support a child’s early writing - and hopefully get them moving toward more legible sentences - by encouraging writing time outside of the classroom, focusing on simple words such as the child’s name, Mom, Dad, love, or dog. Make writing extra fun by using scented markers, fat pencils to assist with fine motor control, and patterned or colorful paper. In tandem with a structured literacy classroom, your at-home efforts can have a significant impact on your child’s reading and writing progress at school.

 

Early Writing Activity #2: Dictation

 

In addition to carving out designated writing time with your child, you can support their early writing skills by writing down what they say. Simple dictation activities help to model the skill of writing in a range of contexts and demonstrate the relationship between spoken and written words. Around bedtime or during a meal, take a few minutes to chat with your child and record their favorite part of a book, their most recent dinner, or a playdate with a friend. As your child watches you write, they’ll become aware of the more subtle conventions of writing like capitalization, word spacing, and punctuation. In addition to supporting a child’s early literacy, this is also an opportunity for parents and caregivers to refresh their communication skills - and clean up their handwriting!

writing at home

These 2 simple writing activities can go a long way in supporting early writers. Writing is an essential skill for children to develop, and the science of reading is beginning to place a stronger emphasis on the duality of reading and writing. Strong writers typically have strategic reading skills, literacy knowledge, vocabulary, and background knowledge of various facts and concepts: all of which can be taught explicitly through early writing instruction. While we entrust the more in-depth science of reading to the researchers and educators, parents can adopt these 2 simple at-home strategies to enhance their child’s writing ability and confidence.

Take-Aways:

  • The science of reading demonstrates a strong relationship between early reading and writing skills.
  • Parents and caregivers can support a child’s early interest in writing by (1) setting aside designated time for “fun writing” at home and (2) using dictation activities to illustrate the connection between spoken and written words.

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Access Level 1’s four interactive stories and the accompanying supplemental resources to teach elementary students how to read. No credit card is needed. Join the 42,635 teachers and students using our reading program.

A Complete Guide on How Phonics Helps Kids Learn to Read

A Complete Guide on How Phonics Helps Kids Learn to Read

Teaching phonics is one of the most important steps in the process in which children learn how to read. Phonics teaches kids how to pronounce, sound out, and combine the sounds of language.

 

Children need to learn this in order to be able to read in front of others and spell new words on their own. Phonics is the method of teaching children how to read by focusing on sounds.

 

Here are a few tips for parents or teachers that want to teach phonics:

 

-Find resources that you can use at home or at school.

 

-Practice, practice practice.

 

-Read books together as a family.

 

In this article you will learn about how phonics can help your child to become a better reader.

What is Phonics?

 

Phonics is the study of the sounds that make up words. Phonics teaches kids how to pronounce, sound out, and blend the sounds of language.

 

Learning phonics will help the children to read out loud in from of other people, as well as allow them to spell new words by themselves. An example would be "c-a-t” spells out “cat."

Why Should Kids Learn Phonics?

 

reading groupsThe importance of teaching phonics to children is often overlooked, but it is very important as it helps them learn to read. By teaching them phonics, kids will learn how to pronounce, sound out, and blend the sounds of language. This will let them read out loud in public and spell out new words on their own.

 

Here are a few tips for parents or teachers that want to teach phonics:

 

-Find resources you can use at home or at school.

 

-Talk about how well students are doing with reading.

 

-Read books together as a family.

How To Teach Phonics -  Learn to Read

 

Teaching phonics is one of the most important steps in teaching children to read.

 

So how do you teach phonics?

 

Here are a few tips for parents or teachers that want to teach phonics:

 

Find resources you can use at home or at school, talk about how well students are doing with reading, and read books together as a family.

Benefits of Teaching Phonics to Kids

 

-Read books together as a family. Teaching phonics is one of the most important steps in teaching children to read.

 

Children need to learn this in order to be able to read in front of others and spell new words on their own.

 

There are a few benefits parents and teachers should know about when they teach children how to read using phonics:

 

-Phonics can help kids build confidence when reading.

 

-It helps them develop an understanding of language that they may not be getting from other curriculums.

 

-Teaching phonics will help children with vocabulary, spelling, writing, and more.

 

-Some research suggests that teaching phonics with sight words can lead to greater success.

Resources for Elementary Teachers

 

-Targets vocabulary and reading comprehension.

 

-Includes lesson plans for teaching different phonics skills.

 

-Provides reading lessons that are aligned with the Common Core Standards.

 

-Includes activities to help students learn new concepts while they have fun One of the first things parents and teachers should do is find resources they can use to help teach phonics. There are many different resources that you can use to teach children, such as letters, games, books and more. Resources are a great way to teach kids how to read because they will be able to get more practice with learning how to sound out words. A good resource for teaching children how to sound out words is a book called Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. This book teaches kids about the alphabet and how each letter has its own sound.

Read Together With Them

 

Your child will need help reading on their own. Find a book that you want to read as a family and then work with them to read it.

 

It's important for kids to pick up words from context and make connections with the world. This is something that you can do when you're reading together. The most important thing you can do is read.

 

By reading together with your child, they will learn to associate words with sounds, as well as how to read and comprehend what they are reading.

 

This helps children know what the letters in words sound like and should be able to tell which position has a letter in a word.

 

Having them read aloud also helps to build their confidence and self-esteem.

Conclusion

 

Reading is an important skill for children to learn. Phonics helps children learn to read by understanding how sounds map to letters and how letters map to words. Teaching phonics is an important step to help children learn how to read.

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Access Level 1’s four interactive stories and the accompanying supplemental resources to teach elementary students how to read. No credit card is needed. Join the 42,635 teachers and students using our reading program.

The “P-Word”: The Role of Phonics in Today’s Reading Wars

The “P-Word”: The Role of Phonics in Today’s Reading Wars

It’s 2022, and the so-called “reading war” between proponents of phonics and advocates of the whole-language approach rages on. Despite phonics being one of the best-evidenced elements of the science of reading, research on phonics in early literacy has sparked a tide of backlash in recent months. This week, we take the pulse on the current status of the reading wars, gathering insights from both professional educators and researchers.

reading education

Phonics vs. Whole Language

 

The wider public debate about reading education tends to adopt an “either/or” stance between phonics or some other approach; yet researchers argue that in most cases, a mixture of different approaches - still with a strong emphasis on phonics - is ideal for reading education. In January, a research paper from the UCL Institute of Education (IoE) attempted to provide nuance to the reading wars: while phonics remains an essential component of early reading, the researchers argue that there are many other factors that shape literacy. They questioned the prominence of systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) in England, a widespread early reading program in the UK that uses highly regimented screening tools to teach phonics. Ultimately, the researchers assert that in 2022, “nobody is seriously advocating for whole language alone,” underwriting the need for a more nuanced approach to early reading.

 

While teachers largely believe in the power of phonics, they’re less likely to advocate for the strict and regimented SSP approach. Says one teacher: "I think, broadly, all teachers understand that SSP is a way into early reading and has an important role to play but, in my experience (and I know there is fierce opposition to this), the use of SSP as the foremost strategy is what they are opposed to," she says. The same teacher also noted the unpopularity of government-imposed “reading schemes” and phonics screenings in all elementary classrooms. Such uniformity in early reading curricula is especially problematic for students with learning disabilities and/or those who speak English as a second language: because these students tend to naturally rely more on context, SSP alone may not meet their needs.

Role of Phonics

Says Rastle, one of the contributors to a foundational 2018 research paper on the reading wars: the best way to support all early readers is to “move the conversation on.” This conversation is continually getting pulled back to phonics, which we already recognize as an essential part of literacy based on the science of reading. We also recognize that reading is a make-or-break skill that influences other subjects and important life milestones. Instead, Rastle encourages educators to focus on the hard stuff: reading comprehension, fluency, and encouraging kids to explore and enjoy independent reading.

 

How do we move the conversation forward?

 

  1. Recognize the nuance of the reading war, and reframe it as an ongoing conversation between the people most passionate about teaching reading.
  2. Avoid more prescriptive policies for teaching reading that reduce teacher autonomy, such as the strict phonics screening check in the UK.
  3. Enhance teachers’ understanding of science behind early literacy curricula with more training on the science of reading

 

As reading teachers, it’s essential to focus on the common ground, remembering that people invested in this conversation largely have students’ best interests in mind. Phonics is just the beginning of a student’s lifelong commitment to reading, discovering, and critically engaging with the world around them.

The Role of Phonics in Today’s Reading Wars

Take-Aways:

  • Although the effectiveness of phonics is largely supported by the science of reading, educational leaders continue to debate how, and to what extent, phonics should be used in early literacy classrooms.
  • The so-called “reading wars” tend to shift focus away from the most important components of lifelong literacy: reading comprehension, fluency, reading for pleasure, and providing adequate support for English Language Learners and students with learning disabilities.
  • To establish common ground, researchers call upon educators and legislators to recognize the nuance of this ongoing debate, avoid prescriptive literacy curricula, and prioritize teacher training on the science of reading.

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Access Level 1’s four interactive stories and the accompanying supplemental resources to teach elementary students how to read. No credit card is needed. Join the 42,635 teachers and students using our reading program.

National Library Week 2022: A Gentle Reminder to Visit Your Local Library

National Library Week 2022: A Gentle Reminder to Visit Your Local Library

When was the last time you visited your local library? These community gems are crucial for families and educators, particularly when schools lack the resources to provide a broader range of reading material and culturally responsive books. From April 3-9, 2022, schools and communities across the U.S. recognized National Library Week: a weeklong celebration of the educational and social role of libraries. This week, we’re outlining 4 ways you can celebrate your local library all year long.

 
1. Visit your local library!
All too often, we forget that the library is just around the corner. As part of National LIbrary Week, local libraries across the U.S. marketed themselves as free resources for connecting with new technology, media, community programs, and classes: all of this, in addition to free books! Well-stocked school and public libraries - and qualified librarians - are essential to dispersing more information about the science of reading, while giving students and families safe spaces to connect with their communities and cultivate a love for reading.

library

2. #UniteAgainstBookBans
At the beginning of National Library Week 2022, the State of America’s Libraries Report highlighted the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2021. In response to the report, the (ALA) initiated a national campaign to Unite Against Book Bans, noting that there were 729 attempted book bans in 2021. The ALA believes that book bans harm communities by preventing students from accessing critical information about themselves and the world around them. If you’re a concerned parent, teacher, or simply an avid reader, you can sign up to join the campaign against book bans - and, in turn, the campaign for widespread access to socially impactful and relevant literature.

3. Promote and follow your local library on social media.
As more states shift toward reading curricula and textbooks rooted in the science of reading, libraries play an essential role in sharing science-based reading strategies with more families and teachers. Follow your local library on social media so you don’t miss out on any of their diverse offerings and trainings for community members and educators. To stay up to date, consider following the ALA on Twitter @ALALibrary, Facebook @AmericanLibraryAssociation, and on Instagram @americanlibraryassociation.

Choosing book in a library

4. Invest in public and school libraries.

Many reading teachers recognize the immediate need to better fund both school and public libraries, particularly as communities reallocate educational funds in response to COVID-19. Nonprofits such as EveryLibrary are working to fill the gap between state funding and the immediate literary needs of reading students and teachers. In addition to signing relevant petitions and donating to the ALA, you can support healthy libraries by urging your elected officials to #FundLibraries for Fiscal Year 2023.

 

Our libraries need our support to continue transforming lives and strengthening our communities. At Reading Teacher, we view National Library Week as a yearlong celebration: one that recognizes our collective effort to share the science and social impact of reading with more teachers, families, and students.

reading books in library

Take-Aways:

  • The ALA recently celebrated National Library Week, an annual recognition of the work of libraries, librarians, and library workers.
  • Based on ALA suggestions, we propose 4 key ways to better support libraries:
    • Visit more frequently!
    • Unite against book bans
    • Engage with your library on social media
    • Advocate for better funding of public and school libraries

Start Teaching Reading for Free Now!

Access Level 1’s four interactive stories and the accompanying supplemental resources to teach elementary students how to read. No credit card is needed. Join the 42,635 teachers and students using our reading program.

Spring into Reading: The 3 Key Elements of Reading Comprehension

Spring into Reading: The 3 Key Elements of Reading Comprehension

As schools across the U.S. transition into spring break, it’s a reflective time for both teachers and parents of early readers. From New Hampshire to North Carolina, several states are proposing curriculum changes and teacher training to support the youngest generation of readers. While school districts continue to invest in gradual - but necessary - systemic change, we’re taking time to reflect on the three fundamentals of reading comprehension, outlined by academic officer Dr. Gene Kerns.

elements of reading comprehension
  1. Decoding

If you’re an elementary teacher, it’s highly likely that you’ve encountered - and even used - the Meaning, Structure, Visual (MSV) approach, also known as the three-cueing system. MSV encourages students to draw meaning from context or pictures, syntax, and visual information, such as images on the page or parts of words. While many teacher training programs champion the effectiveness of MSV, the practice distracts students from actually decoding the words in front of them. After a student has learned to decode, they’ll be able to recognize more words by sight and associate them with sound and meaning: a phenomenon known as orthographic mapping. To improve students’ decoding abilities, it is essential for states to invest in teacher education that emphasizes the importance of explicit and systematic phonics instruction. Recent pushes in Oregon, North Carolina, and New Hampshire reflect a growing awareness of the need for upfront investment in teacher training to support the essential skill of decoding.

skill of decoding
  1. Vocabulary:

Vocabulary is a key marker of reading fluency, which is supported by exposure to as many words as frequently as possible. Using and hearing these words in conversation helps students build their orthographic maps and recognize the sounds of certain words - sometimes even before they’re taught how to read them. In addition to engaging in wide-ranging conversations, students can enhance their vocabulary through wide and varied reading. Keep in mind: teachers can only directly teach students an estimated 400 words per year, so it’s crucial for students to acquire the decoding skills that will empower them to read for pleasure - and, in turn, develop vibrant vocabularies.

 

  1. Knowledge:

Instead of an “achievement gap,” Kerns encourages us to reframe this common term as a knowledge gap. Educators and researchers recognize the correlation between reading ability and socioeconomic status: affluent students often have more opportunities to travel and/or access to a wider range of subjects and vocabulary. With this understanding, educators can honor the relationship between knowledge and literacy by introducing students to a broad range of content from an early age. By encouraging students to read and think about an array of complex social issues, high-quality Social Studies instruction is just as - or perhaps even more important - than English Language Arts.

 

The quest for knowledge continues long after 3rd grade: a make-or-break year when students are declared at, above, or below grade level reading benchmarks. Data suggest that less time is invested in reading proficiency in older grades: in the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress report, only 37% of high school seniors were proficient or advanced in reading. Measures for fourth graders were similar, with 35% of students performing below the basic reading level. While this report only provides a snapshot of a national reading problem, it suggests that students make minimal reading progress after the third grade. To combat this trend, middle, and high school teachers can promote class conversations and assign readings that continually sharpen older students’ decoding skills and expand both their vocabulary and knowledge.

gaining knowledge

Take-Aways:

  • Reading comprehension can be broken down into three key elements: decoding, vocabulary, and knowledge.
  • Teachers can improve students’ reading comprehension by emphasizing decoding over MSV, exposing students to a broad range of literature and subjects, and prioritizing reading skills even after the foundational K-3 years.
  • As schools make more gradual changes to teacher training and curricula grounded in the science of reading, teachers can take action now by focusing on these three dimensions of reading comprehension.

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Following the Money: How Much Does the Science of Reading Cost?

Following the Money: How Much Does the Science of Reading Cost?

While research shows that the science of reading works in the classroom, the actual implementation of science-based reading curricula can be complicated - and costly. Today, we consider the financial barriers to incorporating the science of reading in the classroom, and how school districts can finance high-quality literacy curricula.

science of reading

After declaring phonics as the winner of the “reading war” against whole language education, early literacy advocate Melissa Martin recently wrote on the role of big money and its influence on K-12 education. As much as school districts may want to incorporate new textbooks and make sweeping curriculum changes based on the science of reading, astronomical costs often hold them back. In response, private foundations such as Bill Gates and the Broad Foundation have served as major funders of school districts; while examples abound, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg notably donated $100 million to Newark, NJ public schools in 2010. In an educational system that has not always prioritized the science of reading, these charitable donations are surprisingly common.

 

Although many schools are eager to introduce the science of reading in early literacy classrooms, even basic actions such as changing textbooks can be incredibly costly. Combine expensive curriculum changes with unpaid teacher training, and elementary classrooms are much more likely to uphold the classic - but, ultimately, ineffective - balanced literacy approach to reading instruction. Predictably, many of our readers ask: what are some lost-cost measures that educators and teachers can take to support the science of reading in schools that have been slow to adopt relevant literacy curricula? As advocates of science-based, structured literacy education, there are tangible steps we can take.

 

1. Speak out in support of phonics whenever possible.

Phonics is not the only ingredient in a science-based, structured literacy curriculum, but it’s an essential element that draws from the science of how we learn to read: not simply through exposure to words, but by making explicit connections between letters and sounds.

 

2. Request paid teacher training.

Many teacher training programs still neglect the science of reading, resulting in K-3 teachers who are ill-prepared to teach phonics, decoding, and other tenets of structured literacy. In response, some districts are mandating extra training on the science of reading for K-3 teachers. The currently unpaid - and required - reading teacher training in Texas has prompted backlash among teachers: while many educators believe in the value of the training, they also believe in the importance of appropriately compensating reading teachers for their time.

books in library

3. Support science of reading legislation.

In North Carolina, a recently introduced bill seeks to amend the state’s Read to Achieve program. While imperfect, this bill may serve as a model for legislation that supports both the science of reading and the wellbeing of teachers. In addition to funding teacher training in the science of reading, NC schools would select and compensate teachers for reading camps and provide teacher bonuses based on students’ reading proficiency outcomes.

As school districts mobilize to fund reading teacher training, it’s important to consider the low-cost but high-impact reading resources that can empower teachers, students, and familities to prioritize reading. Our program and resource library helps educators support students on their journey toward reading success: which, in many ways, is the all-consuming purpose of elementary academic education today.

science of readingfor elementary students

Take-Aways:

  • As school districts respond to the enduring impacts of COVID-19 on students’ reading scores, funding literacy curricula based on the science of reading can be difficult and costly.
  • To enhance their elementary literacy programming, educators and school districts are encouraged to take 3 lower-cost steps:
    • Verbalize the importance of phonics
    • Compensate teachers for additional training in the science of reading
    • Support statewide legislation and funding for early literacy

Start Teaching Reading for Free Now!

Access Level 1’s four interactive stories and the accompanying supplemental resources to teach elementary students how to read. No credit card is needed. Join the 42,635 teachers and students using our reading program.

Ask a Scientist: Are Reading Groups Effective?

Ask a Scientist: Are Reading Groups Effective?

In many elementary classrooms, small reading groups are a common strategy. Yet when we consider the research behind modern reading group practices, the evidence for their effectiveness varies greatly. Depending on a classroom’s individual and collective abilities, reading groups can be a highly impactful tool or a barrier to long-term reading success. Today, we explore the science behind reading groups and whether they are appropriate for today’s youngest cohort of readers.

Reading in groups

When creating their reading curricula, new teachers often ask: are reading groups effective? The answers are mixed, but it’s clear that traditional ability-based or “leveled” groups don’t always work. In a Northwestern University Institute for Policy Research study of nearly 12,000 students from kindergarten through 3rd grade, none of the students initially placed in the lowest kindergarten group ever caught up to the reading level of their classmates who started out in the highest reading group. The researchers also noted the negative impact of systemic and teacher bias on students’ progress in the lowest reading group. Low-income students and students of color were more likely to be assigned to lower reading groups, and researchers surmised that the enduring impacts of perceiving oneself as a “lower reader” may discourage students from becoming lifelong readers.

 

In turn, teachers pose the essential question: how do we restructure reading groups to be less biased and more effective? Reading researchers offer a few ideas. As an alternative to ability grouping, which concentrated and worsened reading gaps over time in a recent longitudinal study, the science of reading points suggests that focusing on specific reading skills can help boost group effectiveness. A 2017 University of Minnesota study found that small reading groups which targeted a specific skill for improvement were nearly twice as effective on average as small groups that focused on comprehensive or multiple skill areas. While some form of grouping may be inevitable in large and varied classrooms, utilizing small reading group activities to target specific - and surmountable - reading challenges can improve students’ confidence through the accomplishment of bite-sized literacy goals.

group reading

Based on current research, a classroom founded on the science of reading can still include reading groups, provided that they target explicit reading challenges rather than arbitrary reading levels based on a single assessment and/or teachers’ perceptions. Whether or not teachers opt for small reading groups, researchers who focus on the K-3 age group emphasize the importance of well-prescribed lessons for modeling and guiding students in reading practices; the content of these lessons should address phonological awareness, phonics, word recognition, and fluency. These science of reading pillars can be folded into small group work, albeit in a structured fashion: overloading students with information may defeat the targeted nature of reading groups and promote burnout among both students and teachers. In the educational landscape of 2022, thoughtfully-designed reading groups can improve focus in both reading and STEM classes, reinforce explicit phonics instruction and other lessons taught to the entire classroom, and empower students to meet - and exceed - specific literacy goals.

reading groups

 

Take-Aways:

  • Reading teachers commonly assign students to reading groups based on their abilities and other factors, which runs the risk of dividing students into groups based on systemic biases.
  • When based on bias rather than the science of reading, researchers find that small reading groups are not consistently effective and may even widen reading gaps.
  • However, when teachers design reading groups based on specific literacy goals rather than arbitrary ability levels, students are more likely to find motivation and success in the pursuit of a targeted reading milestone.
  • To reinforce explicit phonics instruction and enrich their students’ reading experience, teachers may be able to incorporate these goal-oriented reading groups into their teacher toolkit.

Start Teaching Reading for Free Now!

Access Level 1’s four interactive stories and the accompanying supplemental resources to teach elementary students how to read. No credit card is needed. Join the 42,635 teachers and students using our reading program.

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