We could teach them all to read, but will we? Dick Allington University of Tennessee
Classroom reading lessons really matters… • Both Scanlon (2010) and McGill-Franzen (1999) provide evidence that extensive professional development with K-1 teachers can dramatically reduce the numbers of kids retained or referred to special education. • Scanlon found PD more effective than 1-1 expert tutoring at solving the problems of struggling readers. • McGill-Franzen found PD resulted in above national average reading performances, in high-poverty sites.
A child who is not reading on grade level by the end of third grade is four times as likely to drop out of school when compared to peers who are reading on grade level. Poor children who are not reading on grade level by the end of third grade are 13 times more likely to drop out than wealthier and proficient peers. Early Intervention is Key See “Double Jeopardy”, Anne E. Casey Foundation and Hernandez, D.J. (2011), paper presented at AERA meeting in New Orleans, LA
Roughly 90% of poor children who are reading on grade level by the end of third grade do graduate on time. This rate of graduation does not differ from proficient and wealthier peers. Roughly 90% of all students who fail to graduate failed to be reading on grade level by the end of third grade. Early Intervention is Key See “Double Jeopardy”, Anne E. Casey Foundation and Hernandez, D.J. (2011), paper presented at AERA meeting in New Orleans, LA
Intervention research… • More intervention studies than classroom studies with struggling readers. • The most effective intervention studies used a balanced approach for reading lessons. • Participants spent 2/3 of intervention period engaged in high-success reading.
“There is now considerable evidence, from recent intervention studies, that reading difficulties in most beginning readers may not be caused by biologically based cognitive deficits intrinsic to the child, but may in fact be related to the opportunities provided for children learning to read.” p. 378 Vellutino, F. R., & Fletcher, J. M. (2005). Developmental dyslexia. In M. S. C. Hulme (Ed.), The science of reading: A handbook (pp 362-378). Malden, MA: Blackwell
The problem may be us… • Beliefs about pupils may limit our efforts. • It is children from low-income homes who struggle in school. • Not all of them but far too many. • We provide those kids with reading lessons very different from the reading lessons our kids get.
Struggling readers get… • More oral reading, less silent reading. • More worksheets, less composition. • More low level questions, less literate conversation. • More hard reading, less high-success reading. • More skills work, less reading activity.
Is it any wonder that struggling readers struggle? • Any wonder that few struggling readers ever become engaged readers?
Redesigning reading lessons… • What kids do during reading block predicts what kids learn during reading block. • Let’s try a simple but research-based design.
Every day every child… Will read something they have selected. Will read something accurately. Will read something they understand. Will write something that is meaningful. Will talk to peers about their reading and writing. Will listen to a fluent adult read aloud. w
Read something they selected. • Choice had a large effect size in the Guthrie and Humenick meta-analysis of research on improving comprehension. • Adults typically read texts they choose, not texts that they were assigned. • When will kids learn how to choose books if we offer only teacher-selected texts?
Improved ReadingComprehension Source: John Guthrie and Nicole Humenick (2004). Motivating Students to Read
Access and classroom libraries… • Large and multi-level classroom libraries are critical. • All classrooms K-12 need libraries of 500 to 1000 titles in order to provide easy access to lots of books. • In too many schools, there is no budget for building classroom libraries. • But there is a budget for workbooks, photocopying, and computers, none of which have ever provided evidence of improving reading performance. None.
Reads something accurately • Reading at 98%+ accuracy is essential for reading acceleration. • Recently Ehri and her colleagues noted that volume of high-success reading (98%+ accuracy) explained which primary grade students exhibited accelerated reading growth. • O’Conner and colleagues did the same with 6th graders. • Adds to 60+ years of research on optimal text difficulty (Betts, 1946).
High- success reading… • High-success reading is essential to developing oral reading fluency. • It is one reason why rereading texts multiple times has been demonstrated successful at improving fluency. • But extensive high-success reading produces similar fluency gains but greater vocabulary and comprehension improvement (Kuhn, 2006).
Reads something they understand. • Reading without comprehension is simply word calling, not reading. • It also produces no reading growth. • Understanding is different from remembering. • Recall of text information is easier than understanding text information. • Do intervention reading lessons assess recall or understanding?
Writes about something that is meaningful to them. • Adults rarely write on topics they are assigned. • Writing involves composing (thus the term composition), or creating a text. • Few of us can write well on topics we neither care about or know very little about. • Try writing a 5 paragraph essay on recent discoveries about the Inca empire.
Worksheets are not writing. • Writing to a prompt is not the sort of writing adults usually do. • Instead, when we write in the real world we write about things we care about and know about. • So why has so much school writing been about topics we don’t care about or know much about? • Why has school writing been so minimal?
Talks to peers about their reading and writing. • In the real world we talk with others about what we’re reading and what we are writing. • In school we turn in our papers and get a grade. • Research shows the power of conversation with peers (Applebee, et al, 2003). • Better outcomes when kids talk to a peer than when kids spend the same amount of time highlighting important information after reading (Fall, et al, 2000)
Literate conversation is powerful but little used… • Nystrand (2006) summarizes the research on engaging kids in literate conversations. • Notes even small amounts of literate conversation (10 mins.) a day improves standardized test comprehension outcomes. • But in too many classrooms (K-12) no literate conversation is observed. • Finding holds regardless of family SES or kids reading levels.
Listens to a fluent adult read aloud • Read-alouds develop: • Vocabulary • World knowledge • Sense of story • Awareness of genres But few grade 2+ teachers read aloud to students every day. Thus, few teachers take advantage of the power of read-alouds. Is reading aloud a part of every day in your classroom?
Where to find the time… • Eliminate almost all worksheets from student daily work. • Replace worksheet time with • Literate conversations • Read-alouds • Self-selected reading • Self-selected writing The outcome is improved reading and writing and the development of real readers and real writers.
It isn’t time that is the problem… • It is the design of lessons where changes need to be made • It is teacher beliefs that need to change. • It is the nature of the work that needs improvement. • WE can make these changes, kids cannot.
We could… teach every child to read and also create real readers. • But achieving both goals will mean we will change how students spend time in our schools.
We could, but will we? • Are we up to it? • The students are waiting.
www.teachersread.net • My website on skinny professional books.