Our ability to read is something quite special. Without the written word, there’s no telling what life might look like today. We owe the world as we know it to an invention that reaches at least as far back as 3400 B.C.
All sufficiently advanced technologies require training to use, and reading is no exception. Despite its ubiquity in modern life, the process of learning to read isn’t typically understood by everyone. Most people who know how to read would struggle to give a satisfactory explanation of how exactly they managed it.
It’s a little more complicated than simple repetition. If you’d like to learn about the Science of Reading Curriculum, we’ve got you covered! Read on to find out more.
The Learning Process
We’re surrounded by systems invented and refined by those who came before us. While we might not be able to invent and implement a language individually, we’re certainly capable of learning an existing one. If you weren’t able, you wouldn’t be reading this article.
Spoken and written words are examples of some of these established systems. Their use is so ubiquitous at this point as to be inexorably linked with how we think of ourselves as a species. Talking, reading, and writing are as much a part of our identity as is walking upright.
People who’re unable to learn to read and write are at a significant disadvantage to those who can. Many of us learn differently, and struggling to learn to read isn’t uncommon or anything to feel ashamed of. Before setting out to teach someone the fundamentals, it’s important to understand them yourself.
The learning process is a series of steps that work best when they’re built upon in turn. The process is much the same for everyone, slow and incremental. Nobody learns to read in a single evening, and an atmosphere of patient understanding helps tremendously while endeavoring to teach something new.
An Effective Reading Curriculum
A curriculum is a strategy to outline the concepts students need to learn to reach their goals. Curriculums teach incremental steps in such a way that the student doesn’t become overwhelmed with information. Teaching only as much as students can comfortably digest allows for steady measurable progress.
Sticking to a curriculum ensures a certain structure which is especially important when teaching students to read. Optimal conditions involve familiarizing students with the mental space necessary for learning. The structure a solid curriculum offers facilitates the student’s journey to this end.
A curriculum also helps the teacher to organize their classes and build upon existing progress. The foundation of reading comprehension comes from the ability to decode the structure of written words and comprehend the result. Put simply, to read effectively, students must learn to recognize words and build a vocabulary sufficient enough to attach correct meaning to them.
The Science of Reading Curriculum is the result of condensing and simplifying over 40 years of literacy research. These pillars of learning are now well-established and used in a variety of ways to help students hone their reading ability.
The Simple View of Reading
The task of teaching students to read is easier once broken down step-by-step. Understanding exactly how the process of learning to read works allows teachers to better structure their guidance. A popular and well-recognized theory of how reading literacy develops is the Simple View of Reading.
The SVR suggests that word recognition and linguistic comprehension do not precede one another. One isn’t much good without the other, after all. Instead, they develop in tandem through experience while the student endeavors to learn.
The combination of both skills is what amounts to reliable reading ability. If a student can identify a word but does not understand its meaning, this leads to a failure of comprehension and vice versa. The Simple View of Reading views these two skills as inseparable and suggests that they’re developed with intent.
While useful for understanding the intricacies of early reading comprehension, the SVR-based curriculum isn’t without its critiques. SVR fails to recognize other determining influences such as social and cultural factors. For this reason, SVR shouldn’t be thought of as an all-encompassing model and more of a cognitive theory of reading.
Scarborough’s Reading Rope Model
The two main points of the Simple View of Reading are explained neatly by Scarborough’s Reading Rope. The idea is to portray the complexities of learning to read with an easily understood infographic. Scarborough describes the journey to reading literacy with a cleverly devised visual aid.
As previously mentioned with the SVR model, the reading rope is also divided into two main collections of strands. The rope in the image is delineated into two, language comprehension and word recognition. These strands are also labeled in their turn to represent what exactly the two main halves are composed of.
The language comprehension half consists of background knowledge, vocabulary, language structures, verbal reasoning, and literacy knowledge. The word recognition half includes phonological awareness, decoding of alphabetic principles, and sight recognition.
In effect, the image succinctly shows each necessary skill a student must obtain. Once woven together, the rope represents fluent reading ability. The rope infographic acts as a beautiful reference for much of the foundation of any reading curriculum.
The Science of Reading Curriculum
The Science of Reading Curriculum is so effective because it understands the importance of the foundational pillars that make up our ability to read fluently. The pillars are described eloquently so that teacher, student, and parent understand their importance in the journey to literacy. Once understood, it’s a lot easier to see where in the learning process a student might be lacking.
1. Phonemic Awareness
This is the skill that describes a student’s ability to accurately understand the individual sounds (or phonemes) each word is composed of. For example, the sound of each letter and each letter combination.
2. Phonics and Word Recognition
Sounds and spellings have a distinct relationship that must be learned and understood. Some of these combinations easily throw new readers off due to their unintuitive nature. Instruction in phonics helps students to stay the course and not become disillusioned.
A grasp of phonics allows students to decode each word into each sound, and construct it piece by piece.
Fluency is gauged by the student’s ability to read without particular issues. Attention to pace and comprehension is taken into account, as well as confidence in expression. The more fluent the reader becomes, the more motivated they’ll be to continue learning as they begin to appreciate their progress.
Vocabulary and fluency go hand in hand. We each have a store of words we can reference for meaning. The larger our vocabulary grows the better we become at explaining ourselves and understanding others.
Vocabulary words are categorized into three tiers. They range from commonly heard to rare specialized terminology.
The first tier consists of basic words which students commonly use in everyday conversation. Second-tier words are more complex and likely found only in text. Tier three words are more esoteric and used for describing niche subjects in detail.
Comprehension describes how well you’re able to understand what’s written in front of you. Depending on the context and general feeling, conclusions come naturally after recognizing and making relevant connections.
With these five pillars to reference, students often find their experience a lot less troubling than it went previously. Reading lessons are a lot easier when you have a better grasp of the ongoing process. These concepts might seem obvious when written down, but it’s worth remembering the 40 years of research that allowed them to condense.
The best reading curriculum is one that works, and The Science of Reading Curriculum is undeniably effective. If you’re looking for a dependable resource on how to teach students to read, you’ve found it!
The Scientific Approach
There are many different avenues to consider when undertaking the role of teacher. The perspectives of your students, their parents, and that of your colleagues count too. In the face of a multitude of options, it makes sense to pick the carefully reasoned approach to teaching.
The best approach is a measured one. Rather than taking an unproven route, consider The Science of Reading Curriculum. Evidence-based approaches that are easily understood remove a lot of the guesswork for teachers and students alike. You and your students are sure to reap all the benefits of this curriculum approach.
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