By Dr Steven Dykstra, reprinted with permission
Don Meichenbaum, one of the world’s leading experts on trauma and violence, and one of the most influential mental health professionals of the last century, said one thing is more important to traumatized children than anything else. More important than therapy, more important than social programs, more important than anything else. The research shows that the single most powerful predictor of their ability to overcome the trauma and survive their circumstances is the ability to read. If they can read, they have a chance to find success in school and overcome all those terrible things in their lives. If they can’t, school will only be another source of pain and failure added to all the other sources of pain and failure. If they can read, they can benefit from therapy and everything else we may try to do for them. If they can’t read, all of that is a waste of time.
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.
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.
Understanding how word-level reading develops and why some students struggle are valuable starting points for planning reading instruction and interventions. Knowing this puts educators in a good position to determine what aspect(s) of the reading process may be creating difficulties for children. This in turn, enables educators to provide intervention that is highly effective to minimize or eliminate the reading difficulty.
In this edition of the Academic Quarterly, the Reading Expert discusses a few ways that educators can distinguish between a true reading disability and English language development challenges in English learners.
The Marvelous Mathematician shares the important role note taking plays in helping students retain learning and why students must be explicitly taught how to take notes. He provides tips on how teachers should plan for notes to be used in lessons and how to make them part of the learning process.
Finally, the Leadership Corner provides resources on the science of teaching reading, including articles, podcasts, blog posts, and an upcoming webinar with Dr. David Kilpatrick, the author of Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties.
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“Larry P'”, the pseudonym given to the Mr. Darryl Lester, the main plaintiff in the landmark 1970’s case which was filed against the state of California on behalf of African American students, is just one of many people who suffered great injustice in our California public school system. Wrongly labeled “Educable Mentally Retarded” at the time, Mr. Lester may actually have dyslexia and was robbed of his right to read.
Mr. Lester’s story can be heard in this podcast released by KQED Public Radio’s The California Report Magazine on October. 18.
Far too many schools struggle with unhealthy and uninspiring cultures for both students and educators. Teachers and administrators often feel overwhelmed and unsupported in their professional growth. If we’re serious about attracting, retaining and developing skillful and passionate educators, we must cultivate the type of culture in our schools where everyone is supported to grow. Join this hour-long webinar to hear how Monterey Peninsula Unified School District (MPUSD) is building just such a culture.
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.
Oceanside High School (OHS), 40 miles north of San Diego, is building college and career preparation into the learning experience so that every student, regardless of race, gender, income, or disability, graduates with the academic knowledge and social-emotional skills to be successful in whichever educational or career choices they pursue after high school.
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.