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There’s Comfort In Being Wrong

Teacher in a panic: It can’t be wrong. Me, softly: Why not? Teacher: Because… if it’s wrong and I’ve been doing it… we’ve ALL been doing it for years, then what does that mean for the kids? Me: I know. It’s scary. I’ve had that same thought, but another teacher said to me, “What about the kids we haven’t had yet?” As a literacy coach, I’ve grown accustomed to having

Race, Class, and Reading Research

First, a little context: I am a white literacy coach in a large urban district where half the teachers are of color. When I began my job, I believed that my focus on evidence-based reading instruction, good intentions and belief that all students can learn would make me well-equipped to bring research to our diverse staff. How naive I was!  Entering this work, I was blind to biases that permeate

Whole-language sneaks in EVERYWHERE

Most primary-grade teachers teach phonics because we know it supports our students’ reading and spelling. And many of us also believe that if we incorporate phonics into our instruction, we are by definition not whole-language teachers; we are “balanced literacy” teachers. But whole-language beliefs are so pervasive and so entrenched in education that they continue to serve as the basis for a majority of instructional materials and professional development offerings.

Teachers Won’t Embrace Research Until It Embraces Them

I understand why advocates, researchers, and policymakers who feel the urgency of our literacy crisis are frustrated when teachers don’t embrace reading science. But my entry into the world of reading research was difficult, and while I take pride in my determination to learn, I understand why other teachers might be deterred. If we want teachers to apply research, it may be helpful to think about why they aren’t. I’ll

NAACP Fights for Reading Science

Our recommended reading list

Reading Science from 1955-today Language at the Speed of Sight by Mark Seidenberg Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties by David Kilpatrick Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read by Stanislas Dehaene Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf National Early Literacy Panel Speech to Print by Louisa Moats National Reading Panel Beginning to Read by Marilyn Adams Why Johnny Can’t Read: And What

Why is my union campaigning to gut teacher prep?

I’ve been one of California Teacher Association’s 325,000 members for the past 13 years and I have appreciated its protection and passionate advocacy. Nationwide, advocacy groups are pushing to better prepare teachers and to support us in delivering effective reading instruction, so I was shocked to see that my union is doing the opposite. CTA and other unions (CCSESA, CFT, Public Advocates, CABE, CABTE, ACSA) support SB-614, which strikes from

Phonics Instruction: Helps All, Harms None

The Wait and See Approach: While some students crack the alphabetic code with minimal or even no instruction, others require systematic phonics reinforced by decodable texts to become skilled readers. The catch is that when students enter school, we don’t know for whom code-based instruction will be essential. We can wait and find out, and in fact, we do this so often that the approach has a name, “wait to

Open Letter: lives depend on literacy; lives depend on us

Teachers are lauded for our martyrdom- “other professions make money, but teachers make a difference”- and frequently bashed , so rarely will we publicly voice our self-doubt. When we’re driving home after a hard day or lying awake at night, we may think about students who struggled. Despite (or perhaps because of) our tireless efforts, we wonder, years after they leave us, “Was there something more I could have done?”

Part 2: Complicating the Simple View of Reading

The Simple View of Reading beautifully demonstrates the equal importance of decoding and language comprehension. But because the formula is so… well… simple, it leaves out quite a bit. To look more deeply at skilled reading, we needed other models. We wondered, about the Simple View: What are the components of decoding? What is language comprehension? For those questions, we found answers in Scarborough’s Rope, developed by Dr. Hollis Scarborough