The Utah State Board of Education published a Dyslexia Handbook in 2018. PC READS Executive Director, Elissa Aten, participated in the taskforce that drafted this important document. It is a resource for educators and parents and we encourage all to read and share it!
The ILA and the IDA have not always seen eye-to-eye and there was particular debate over the ILA’s 2016 Research Advisory on Dyslexia (link below). So, we are happy to see that the ILA has published a brief (link below) on the importance of explicit and systematic phonics instruction.
The question of whether to include phonics instruction has been resolved.
The answer is yes. Although phonics can be taught in different ways, research supports instruction that is explicit and systematic.
We often post about the importance of using Structured Litearcy in classrooms and why we are so pleased that the Park City School District has implemented it through the use of Wilson Fundations in all K-3 classrooms. Here is a great article from the International Dyslexia Association explaining what Structured Literacy is why all schools should use it. Additional resources are included at the end of the article
On May 3rd, PC READS awarded Julie Hastings with our 2019 Elevating Literacy Award. This award was started as a way to recognize someone who has embraced the PC READS mission and is making a difference in our community. It honors an individual who has made a significant contribution towards improving the lives of students with reading disabilities, including dyslexia.
PC READS is very thankful for the PCSD Interventionists who started this program at McPolin Elementary School! And, we are proud to be supporting educators through our Professional Development Grant Program. #elevatingliteracy
Interventionist Amy Warren, featured in this article, received a PC READS grant for Wilson Level 2 Coaching Sessions and shared the following: “I am so thankful for PC READS because they help to make education accessible at every level. PC READS supports teachers by giving them opportunities for trainings and professional development and, in turn, teachers are able to use that information and experience to better serve and support their students.”
“Unfinished learning around literacy” is a reason the PC READS provides Professional Development Grants to educators in the Park City area. Thank you to all the educators who continue to learn! And, thank you to The Hall Family Fund for your support of this important program!
EXCERPT: Educators urgently need a national movement for professional learning about reading. We should declare a No Shame Zone for this work—to make it safe for all educators to say, “I have unfinished learning around literacy.”
It’s so important to recognize the older students who are silently struggling. Looking forward to the rest of this five-part series on supporting middle-schoolers, high-schoolers and adults with dyslexia. We also are grateful for the time that the author, Donell Pons, has given to PC READS!
EXCERPT: There is no such thing as a “good” or “bad” speller. By accepting the “good” or “bad” speller idea, it absolves us from doing anything to improve the outcome. Think about how much damage has been done in the field of teaching mathematics by falling back on the erroneous idea that some people are simply “good” or “bad” at math. Simply put, people struggle with math or spelling for the same reasons. Many educators have not been given the training and resources to accommodate students with dyslexia, and especially older students with dyslexia who are out of the initial learning curve of reading.
This article is based upon author Emily Hanford’s audio documentary for APM Reports, “Hard Words: Why Aren’t Kids Being Taught to Read?”
Excerpt: “There is no excuse for this. Colleges of education have to start requiring that their faculties teach the science of reading. Children’s futures depend on it.”
Thank you to our PCSD K-3 teachers who are putting the science of reading back into the classrooms through Wilson Fundations!
What can you do over the UEA break? PLEASE take the time to read or listen to this article & the follow-up we will post, too. PC READS advocated for changes to our PCSD elementary reading curriculum for several years based upon the science of reading & is proud to be a partner on the initiative that brought Wilson Fundations to our classrooms! And, our Professional Development Grants are supporting educators as they learn more about the science of reading.
A FEW EXCERPTS FROM THE ARTICLE:
By some estimates, one-third of America’s struggling readers are from college-educated families.
But without explicit and systematic phonics instruction, many children won’t ever learn to read very well.
“There are thousands of studies,” said Louisa Moats, an education consultant and researcher who has been teaching and studying reading since the 1970s. “This is the most studied aspect of human learning.”
There is no debate at this point among scientists that reading is a skill that needs to be explicitly taught by showing children the ways that sounds and letters correspond. “It’s so accepted in the scientific world that if you just write another paper about these fundamental facts and submit it to a journal they won’t accept it because it’s considered settled science,” Moats said.
You can find schools and school districts across the United States that are trying to change reading instruction the way Bethlehem has, but according to Moats, ill-informed, ineffective reading instruction is the norm. “The gap between science-based ideas and practices and those most often used in our classrooms remains very wide and persistent,” she wrote in a recent article.
Change is needed and happening throughout the nation. This article focuses on our neighboring state of Colorado. Our advocacy efforts have brought positive and critical changes to the Park City School District and we are continuing to advocate to ensure that struggling readers, including those identified as dyslexic, receive early, effective intervention.
EXCERPT: “Despite the stakes for students with dyslexia, their fate is often left to the luck of the draw. The lucky few attend a school with a specialist who understands the type of instruction dyslexic children need. The vast majority do not, and go undiagnosed until a parent eventually pays the thousands of dollars for a private screening.
This waiting period can wreak havoc. Early identification is key: one study showed 90 percent of children can eventually be reading on grade level if they get help by first grade. But if they don’t receive assistance until age 9 or later, 75 percent will struggle throughout their entire school careers.”
It begins, “I struggled in school…”
This video by Jonathan Mooney has been making the internet rounds. If you haven’t seen it, take 5 minutes to watch it today. Jonathan is also the author of The Short Bus – A Journey Beyond Normal.
“For school and district leaders, the hard part about reading instruction is leading a highly effective implementation and sticking to the plan long enough for the work to have a meaningful impact.” Thanks to all the PCSD educators who have implemented Wilson programs in our school district!
Great video from Education Week about the importance of ensuring that teachers understand the science of reading, including links to additional reading. “By 2021, every elementary and special education teacher in the state of Arkansas must be proficient in brain-based research on reading.”
Interesting, short read giving an overview of how the debate over teaching phonics became a civil rights issue.
EXCERPT: Phonics instruction was a civil rights issue — beyond theory, research, and the scientific method. Just about every pedagogical strategy was lined up politically in the following decade. Also identified as “conservative” were a specified curriculum, direct teaching, assigned expository writing based on reading, assigned literary texts (especially if they were by dead white males), grammar study, specific writing skills, and indeed, anything requiring a teacher’s judgment. Ironically, strategies damned as “conservative” tended to be supported by research as useful for low-income children.
EXCERPT: My concern is greatest for teachers who are being sent into classrooms without the tools they need to succeed. I’m hopeful this renewed interest will serve as a catalyst for overhauling reading instruction in our teacher-preparation programs. However, relying solely on better preparation for the next generation of teachers is a slow delivery system to children. The stakes are too high. We need more immediate solutions.