1) The Science of Reading Is Not a Fad
Teaching trends may come and go as the decades pass, but the Science of Reading, based on over 50 years of research in multiple fields, provides the evidence as to what works in literacy instruction and what does not.
Therefore, it is not a fad or trend but a verified way to help students of all backgrounds, levels, and abilities learn to read. The Science of Reading demystifies the process of learning to read and provides specific tools and methodologies to help teachers teach reading effectively. Structured Literacy is the instructional “what” and “how” to actualize the Science of Reading in the classroom. The Science of Reading is the “why” that underpins Structured Literacy practices.
2) All Kids Benefit from Structured Literacy
Although reading has traditionally been taught in many different ways, you might be surprised to learn that all children learn to read the same way. This is because reading isn’t a skill that develops naturally — we all have to build the neural pathways in our brains that allow us to read through “explicit instruction and deliberate practice.”
Some teachers think phonics instruction isn’t necessary, but they’re referring to the roughly 40% of children who learn to read regardless of whether it’s taught badly or well. The other 60% need explicit instruction to learn how to read, and even the 40% of children who learn to read easily benefit from explicit instruction to help them learn to spell and break down longer words.
I recommend that teachers watch this video by Stanislas Dehaene to understand how children learn to read.
3) It’s Okay to Have Made Mistakes
If you realize you’ve been using ineffective approaches to teaching in the past, don’t worry. At the beginning of my career, I was trained as a Whole Language teacher, but when I began teaching, I quickly realized that I didn’t know how to teach children to read.
While it’s okay to have made mistakes in the past, it’s not okay to keep teaching using ineffective practices once you know better. Implementing practices grounded in the science of reading may look different from what you’re used to, so I recommend keeping an open heart and mind.
4) Teaching Reading Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated
Teachers love incorporating new fancy tools and methodologies into their teaching practices, but the reality is they don’t need bells and whistles and pretty stuff to teach students effectively.
Students can learn to read very effectively with just a few simple tools — such as sound/spelling cards, letter/sound review cards, dry-erase boards and markers, decodable text (texts where they apply their phonic skills in reading actual text), and high quality narrative and informational texts to read aloud to students.
Students also do not need worksheets, computer programs, or Pinterest activities to learn how to read. They need a high-quality curriculum, opportunities to practice word reading in connected text, and teacher-led opportunities to develop reading comprehension strategies in high-quality complex text.
5) There Is No Magic Bullet
Teaching reading effectively is a combination of teacher knowledge, good assessments, high-quality materials, explicit instruction, and lots of opportunities for students to practice reading.
Understanding the Science of Reading and implementing it effectively are not the same. There is no perfect reading program, and teacher knowledge is the key to implementing programs effectively.
6) The Simple View of Reading and Scarborough’s Reading Rope
I wish that all teachers knew about the Simple View of Reading and Scarborough’s Rope. The Simple View of Reading explains that comprehension requires both word recognition and language comprehension — it’s not an either-or.
Scarborough’s Rope takes the analysis even further by looking at the components that make up word recognition (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency) and the components that build language recognition (such as background knowledge, vocabulary, use of metaphors and similes, print awareness, and understanding genre).