One of the things I try to say around here is that you really can teach. You don’t need me, not once you understand how teaching reading can work, how it is simply a combination of teaching sounds and patterns (you know: blends, digraphs, diphthongs, etc.), and then methodically reviewing them. I’ve also shown you how sight words usually are not.
What I mean is, there are very few words which do not follow some rule somewhere in our language. This is why we might teach a few words as sight words, but later take them off of our sight words list and place them on a rule card where they belong.
The reason I love to teach reading is that English makes perfect sense.
I don’t remember being taught phonics as I began reading at a very young age. Perhaps I was, perhaps I wasn’t. But I have always thought in patterns. This is how my mind works, by noticing patterns and then noticing things that don’t conform to the pattern. In English, though, it is not that a word does not conform, but that it fits in a different pattern. Some people call them word families.
I love teaching reading because I love showing children who do not naturally see patterns that all of this seeming chaos actually makes sense.
I just finished listening to two fabulous, wonderful, amazing talks from Denise Eide on the logic of the English language, which are available for download free online. Since you all teach reading, you ought to carve out time to listen to these talks.
According to Eide, somewhere between 95% and 98% of English words fit a pattern.
They have a rule.
I felt like Eide was a kindred spirit. She is my new best friend; I just haven’t told her yet.
The difference between myself and Eide, however, is that she is way more informed than I am (or would ever care to be), plus she explains it all much better than I ever could.
A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.
In her talk, Eide gave some frightening statistics on adult literacy in this country. How can we pass on a gift we have not received?
After listening to Eide speak, I can tell you that she gets it. She sees the patterns, and she knows how to teach them. But a pupil will be like his teacher, which means that first we who teach must know and understand these patterns. We must know that English makes sense, that it is not a crazy language full of exceptions.
Probably the most fascinating thing I heard Eide say was to explain functional MRIs that have been performed on children while they are reading. Good readers use different parts of the brain than struggling readers and non-readers. But here is the cool thing: after only 80 hours of teaching a la Eide, the struggling readers’ brains looked like the brains of good readers! In fact, they were no long struggling readers. Some, she says, are now defining dyslexia as a student whose brain activity does not improve after the 80 hours of instruction.
So I am highly, highly recommending her book, even though I haven’t yet read it (I want a copy so badly!) because I am convinced, after hearing her speak, that she is helping to bring literacy back to our country. So go. Listen to her talks. And buy her book. Become the teacher your students need you to be.
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The Teaching Reading with Bob Books method uses a special binder system in order to simply and easily tailor the frequency of review to the needs of each individual child. This free guide explains exactly what you need and how to build the TRwBB Binder so that you can get started teaching right away.