Science and reading. These don’t seem like two terms that you’re probably used to hearing together. However, these two words have come together A LOT lately in education and it might have some of you wondering what it’s all about.
The Science of Reading is a breakthrough body of research that explains the science behind how we learn to read. Some of us may have thought for the longest time that reading was a natural process but it turns out, it’s a lot more complicated than that. This research has created a lot of shifts to happen in our schools, but what does that mean for us as teachers?
What is the Science of Reading?
The Science of Reading is a scientifically-based body of research about reading and writing issues that has evolved over the last five decades from multiple fields including cognitive and developmental psychology, communication sciences, education, neuroscience, linguistics, and special education. It is not a curriculum, a single component of instruction, or a pendulum shift. From this body of research, it has been proven that our brains were not originally wired to read since writing is a man-made creation and provided guidance on what is needed to teach reading. There have been different theoretical models developed that help to explain how we become skilled readers.
Comprehension is the ultimate goal when learning how to read. The Simple View of Reading tells us that reading comprehension is the product of two critical skills: decoding (word recognition) and language (language comprehension). Without one, there isn’t reading comprehension.
Scarborough’s Reading Rope further elaborates the Simple View of Reading by expanding on the sub skills that are involved in word recognition and language comprehension. Each strand has to be mastered in order to be woven together tightly to create skilled reading. If someone is not a skilled reader, we have to identify the strand(s) that is loose to provide targeted intervention. Understanding that reading is not a natural process and that it NEEDS to be explicitly taught, can help us understand how to completely tailor our instruction to each student’s needs.
How To Get Started
Implementing practices in our classrooms that align to the Science of Reading is crucial. The Science of Reading identifies five essential components that must make up our reading instruction:
- Phonemic Awareness
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In the K-2 classrooms, you will spend approximately 40% of your instructional block focusing on phonemic awareness and phonics. This is because developing those word recognition skills is a critical step in learning how to read. When we are teaching phonics, we want to make sure that we are teaching the skills directly, explicitly, and in a sequential order.
In 3-5 classrooms, your instructional focus shifts to strengthening the language comprehension side of the Reading Rope. This means that most of the instructional time will be allotted to fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Some students may still require support in developing their word recognition skills, which means that we need to provide targeted intervention. We no longer want to just teach reading strategies like finding the main idea and key details, but rather we want to develop our students’ background knowledge and vocabulary to equip them with the knowledge to become the next world leaders.
As Dr. David Kilpatrick stated, “We teach reading in different ways; they [students] learn to read proficiently in only one way.” Knowing this, we should strive to not have a “balanced” approach to our instructional blocks, but rather a structured literacy approach. We want to target the needs of our students appropriately and ensure that they are receiving all five components of reading instruction. Implementing practices that align to the Science of Reading is one of the biggest steps that you can take to support your readers. If you want to take a peek to see if your curriculum aligns to these principles, you can check out edreports.org.
I hope you enjoyed learning the basics of the Science of Reading and how it can be used to impact your readers. Be sure to be on the lookout for more support and resources that align to this piece of research to ensure your reading instruction is as impactful as possible! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including the lesson plan FREEBIE! But you will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how-to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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