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WAIT… What?? The Science of Reading 

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If you’ve been around the classroom long enough, you’ve seen that trends come and go and sometimes even repeat themselves. There are always, and I do mean ALWAYS, new initiatives in education. Some schools are quick to jump on the bandwagon and some take a more cautious approach and see how things pan out with those early adopters before jumping on board. I’m here to share with you today that there has not been a program, pedagogy, initiative, strategy, curriculum (or any of the other education words) that I’ve been as excited about as I am the Science of Reading.

What is the Science of Reading?

An important thing to understand about the Science of Reading is that it isn’t a program. It isn’t a curriculum. It’s not just an initiative to be picked up and dropped later on like a hot potato. The Science of Reading an entire pedagogy to teaching early literacy and reading that is 100% backed by scientific research. Hence, the name the SCIENCE of Reading. And, this was a little surprising to me…. It’s not new!

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A teacher friend and I were speaking about struggling readers at our school not that long ago… She said, “Shae. It’s 2022. Why don’t we know how to teach kids how to read?” I didn’t have an answer to her question… I DO know that teachers are working their tails off doing all they know to do to help kids become skilled readers. It works well for some students, but for many others, they struggle with reading once they hit the upper elementary grades.

Where has the Science of Reading been?

Well, obviously we didn’t know what we didn’t know. As we dug in and searched out the answer to our question, it became apparent that the research that IS the Science of Reading has been around. Some of it was (or should have been) common knowledge 20 years ago! Heck, some of it was out even before I was born, and I’m no spring chick. LOL!

In the Dark

The knowledge we needed was simply overlooked or ignored by some of the institutions (ahhhemmm- teacher training programs, colleges of education, curriculum companies) that needed to embrace and incorporate it the most. All we can do now is shake our fingers at them and take it upon ourselves to learn more and to do better.

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A Teacher’s Heart

One of the goals of most educators is to develop life-long learners. Our work is to spark inquiry and facilitate robust conversations. We want our kids to be able to reason with evidence and to be excited about learning new things. We want them to ask when they don’t know, to also seek out the information for themselves, and to keep going even when they make mistakes. This is exactly where a significant portion of America’s teachers need to be right now in regard to teaching reading. 

Seeking Out Knowledge

Teachers, like me, who were initially trained in reading practices that may be less effective must follow our own advice and be that life-long learner we want our kids to be. We did not learn instructional practices related to the Science of Reading. We must come together as an entire community of educators seeking out the knowledge found in the Science of Reading ourselves and figure out why so many of our students are failing to become skilled readers and what we can do to change it.

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Studying the Science of Reading

I’d like to invite you to venture with me to learn more about the Science of Reading and how it relates to our current teaching practices. 

In this blog series, What… What??, we’ll be discussing the 5 Pillars of Literacy, the Four-Part Processing Model, Scarborough’s Reading Rope, the Simple View of Reading, High-Frequency Words, Phonemic Awareness, Phonological Awareness, and Phonics amongst other topics related to the Science of Reading.

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