Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Reading, Research and Why I Love the 2 Sisters

I was so excited to start reading the book What Really Matters for Struggling Readers by Richard Allington. I heard about this book at a recent 2 Sisters workshop and they used it to support some of the reasons for their program.

A few quotes I've read so far have struck me....

"Developing phonemic awareness and phonics skills in kindergarten and first grade was supported by the research but that systematic phonics was not effective for struggling readers in grades 2 to 6. Providing regular guided oral reading with a focus on fluency was important." (National Reading Panel, 2002)

"Because of the increase in unfettered flow of information, U.S. schools need to enhance the ability of children to search and sort through information to synthesize and analyze information and to summarize and evaluate the information they encounter". (Allington p.10)

"If the federal education agencies cannot reliably report what the research says, given enormous resources, how can teachers be expected to accomplish this feat?" (Allington p.33)

"If you want an intervention to fail, mandate its use with a school full of teachers who hate it, don't agree with it, and are not skilled (or planning to become skilled) in using it. This is what Linda Darling Hammond (1990) has called "the power of the bottom over the top" in educational reform."

"...Collins (1986) reported on first grade instruction noting that higher acheiving students spent approximately 70% of their instructional time reading passages and discussing or responding to questions about the material they read. By way of contrast, the lower acheiving readers spent roughly half as much time on these activities with word identifcation, drill, letter sound activities, and spelling and penmanship activities occupying large blocks of lesson time."

Discrepancy between round robin vs. independent reading:
  • small group reading aloud-read 100 words (slower, more likely to have interruptions)
  • students in silent independent reading-read 400 words
"If we attempt to accelerate struggling readers development, a critical first step will be at least equalizing the volume of reading practice....we will also need to ensure that they read more than better readers!"

"Workbooks and skill-and-drill reproducibles should be required to carry a warning: Caution: Sustained use of this product may cause reading/learning difficulties. Conversely books might carry a label that said: Research has demonstrated that regular reading of this product can reduce the risks of acquiring a reading/learning disability." (Allington p.40)

"neither oral reading volume nor workbook activity significantly influenced reading performance." (from a study done by Leihnardt, Zigmond, and Cooley, 1981 where they studied primary grade learning disabled students)

How more effective teachers structure an hour of reading lesson time:
  • reading 40-45 min.
  • 5-10 min. prep to read
  • 5-10 engage children in activities following reading
  • while the children were reading, the teacher worked with children in small groups or individually at their seats
  • this was also incorporated into the content areas (SS, Science, etc.)
"No basal reading series contains enough reading material to develop high levels of reading proficiency in children."

The bottom line that I have walked away with is that a lot of what the Daily 5 Program does is support a reader's behavior so that they can do what is needed to create higher achievement in reading for children. What it also shows, which is really fascinating to me is that independent reading time (with teacher meetings and small group reading time) proves effective for children with learning disabilities. If a child with a learning disability is only receiving instruction in "drill and kill", workbooks, and direct instruction focused on phonics in isolation, phonemic awareness skills, etc., the students will suffer the loss of silent reading time, actually compounding their difficulty with reading.


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