Posted November 25, 2019
by Claude Goldenberg, Nomellini & Olivier Professor of Education, emeritus, Stanford University
I left graduate school fully convinced that this was axiomatic: The road to reading is paved on a foundation of meaning. Fortunately, I spent the first years after my degree as a first grade teacher in a bilingual school, teaching, or at least trying to teach, reading in English and in Spanish. I learned from the children and colleagues at my school that this is not axiomatic; it is just wrong.
But my learning was not without a struggle. Axiomatic convictions don’t go away without a fight. And I fought mightily. But in the end, the evidence won out. And by evidence I don’t just mean what researchers and others publish in their articles and professors say or don’t say to their students and anyone who will listen. I also mean what I was seeing before my very eyes. As both a teacher and a beginning researcher, my convictions were put to the test, and some didn’t pan out.
Posted November 23, 2019
by Linda Diamond, President, CORE and author of Teaching Reading Sourcebook and Assessing Reading: Multiple Measures
In 1976, when news Anchor Howard Beale in the film Network yelled this famous line on air and urged everyone to open their windows and yell too, it resonated with me. It resonates even more now as once again the reading science deniers disparage those of us in the reading research community who accept the settled science on teaching reading by implying all we care about is phonics. That is a cheap shot that cannot be further from the truth. However, it is a slick strategy by the advocates of other teaching methods to belittle the rest of us and stir up anger and more sales of products that ultimately only work for a few children. This same line of resistance has been used to smear any curriculum that didn’t fit a “balanced literacy” or guided reading approach and was successfully used against a fantastic ELA curriculum, Open Court, as being only about phonics. Again, a big lie. Explicit systematic instruction, the science of reading, Structured Literacy, whatever the term, has NEVER, I repeat NEVER been all about phonics. It is about a systematic and explicit approach to developing ALL the critical literacy skills, including phonemic awareness, sound-spelling relationships, syllable patterns and morphemes, fluency, sentence and paragraph structure, vocabulary, text structure and comprehension.
Posted November 18, 2019
by Susan Van Zant and Nancy Volpe, Educational Services Specialists, CORE
Nowadays the ability to answer text-dependent questions is essential to do well on standardized tests of all types. Students often have a difficult time using information from the text to answer comprehension questions, particularly inferential questions which require them to cross reference text and dig out answers that are not plainly stated. Question-Answer Relationships (QAR) is an instructional technique designed to teach students to use metacognitive thinking to determine what they need to do in order to answer questions commonly found on high-stakes, summative assessments.
Posted October 16, 2019
By David Hedges, CORE Senior Education Services Math Consultant
It is almost Trick or Treat time, and I am reminded of my classroom days working with struggling Algebra 1 students. Fractions issues were the usual suspect! I used to tell my students that I was going to dress up as a fraction on Halloween and scare them all. Their choral response was usually something like, “Mr. Hedges, you are so crazy!”
Most of the math my students struggled with was not about Algebra 1 topics. The student struggles were mostly around a lack of fluency or understanding with earlier skills they had been exposed to on their math road to Algebra 1. Check out a prior blog from February 2018 written by Mary Buck, Senior Educational Services Consultant for CORE, about fluency within the Common Core Standards, Number Sense and Fluency.
I always found math to be easy as a K-12 student and went on to complete a BS in Mathematics at the ‘real USC’, University of South Carolina. As successful as I was with math, it was during a math methods course taught by Dr. Randy Philipp at San Diego State University that I had a fraction epiphany – meaning a whole epiphany about fractions.
Posted September 25, 2019
By Kareem Weaver, Member of Education Committee, NAACP, Oakland Branch
It turns out that we know exactly why Johnny can’t read. However, instead of using the brain science and overwhelming research consensus, we’re still using strategies that reflect our own biases and theories. Johnny is left to fend for himself, and the only time he may receive the support he needs is when he reaches the point of crisis.
In 2000, the federal government responded to the country’s reading confusion by producing the seminal work in the field. The National Reading Panel’s conclusions were clear: students need direct, explicit instruction that teaches phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Depending on your cultural flavor, one can call this Structured Literacy or the Marva Collins way, but it’s simply evidence-based practices which leverage research.