Explicit instruction and structured literacy and aligned instructional materials benefit all students.
A significant portion of WI schools used balanced literacy practices and instructional materials, which have an effect size of 0.09 - less than 25% of a typical year's growth. Common examples of balanced literacy curriculum resources include Fountas and Pinnell and Lucy Calkins. In addition, many WI school districts are using district or teacher created curriculum resources which have not been evaluated or studied.
The Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) at UW-Madison is partnering with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to learn about the use of high quality instructional materials in English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics and Science and publish a statewide curriculum map at WI Instructional Materials Matter which is searchable by many criteria. Additional resources for quality and alignment checks are also available on the about page.
How to Teach
Good pedagogical practices apply to reading just as they apply to any other area of instruction. It is worth mentioning that, in addition to being arranged systematically and receiving some isolated practice, skills should be integrated with each other, so that phonemic awareness and phonics reinforce each other, reading and spelling are practiced as reciprocal skills, and morphology and syntax connect decoding, spelling, and vocabulary.
All skills should also be implemented in the reading and writing of connected text as soon as possible, beginning with decodable text and sentence creation and moving on to include less-controlled text and longer pieces of writing.
Mnemonics (linguistic, spatial, visual, physical, and verbal) have the potential to accelerate learning (0.8 effect size). In particular, the visual and spelling rule aspects of the phonics portion of curriculum materials should be reviewed.
Multimodal techniques (also called multisensory) have not been fully studied for their efficacy. Analysis of the research currently available on the effect of modality shows it may have the potential to accelerate learning. Many educators find that engaging multiple senses at once (e.g., saying sounds during letter formation or spelling) assists in moving information more accurately and quickly to long-term memory.
To employ structured literacy in the service of students, educators need to be practiced in classroom instructional techniques as well as have solid knowledge of the structure of the English language. Developing a technical, more detailed understanding allows teachers to diagnose where the breakdown is occurring and better match their response to the cause.
Being a skilled reader does not ensure that a teacher has all the knowledge needed. Teachers are often individuals who have learned to read without much effort themselves, and may need to engage in professional development that brings a conscious awareness of the reading and spelling process.
Three Critical Questions
Mistakes Districts Make
Decodable Text and Leveled Readers
Universal Design for Learning
Dual Credit, Advanced Placement, Start College Now & College in the Schools
Digital Content & Delivery of Instruction
Digital content and digital delivery of reading instruction and intervention must be considered carefully. Technology has the power to greatly increase and scale access to quality curriculum materials and pedagogy. Hattie's research shows evidence that technology can have a positive impact and potentially accelerate learning.
0.36 - Online and digital tools
Assessment and instruction with digital resources must be implemented and monitored by a teacher trained in SoR.
Screening, diagnostic, and outcome reading assessments should be used to evaluate effectiveness and adjust or adapt as needed.
Technology should be leveraged to ensure students with dyslexia have access to appropriate accommodations and assistive technology.
Podcasts & Videos about Curriculum
Background knowledge and education reform - S1-02 Science of Reading: The Podcast, Robert Pondiscio
Visible Learning for Literacy: Maximizing Teacher Impact and Accelerating Student Learning - EDVIEW360, John Hattie, author and education researcher
Additional Resources about Curriculum
Clarity about Fountas and Pinnell - Reading Matters: Connecting Science and Education, Mark Seidenberg
Influential authors Fountas and Pinnell stand behind disproven reading theory - APM Reports, Emily Hanford and Christopher Peak
Influential literacy expert Lucy Calkins is changing her views - APM Reports, Emily Hanford
Never Heard of Lucy Calkins? Here's Why You Should Have. Forbes, Natalie Wexler
Corwin Visible Learning Plus. (2021, August). Visible Learning Metax. https://www.visiblelearningmetax.com/
The Reading League Wisconsin. (2021, July 20). Wisconsin Foundational Reading Skills Tool [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=493z8DnPI-U&t=1s
Readsters [The Reading League Wisconsin]. (2021, October 16). Decodable Text Linda Farrell Michael Hunter Oct 2021 [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ANZdw7-0J0&t=2s
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. (2017). Dual Enrollment & High School Students with Disabilities. Northcentral Technical College. https://www.ntc.edu/sites/default/files/2019-02/dual-enrollment-students-with-disabilities.pdf