Kylene Beers provides a useful introduction to the world of phonics.
Here aretwo helpful Websites for teachers
parents:• Starfall describes itself as ‘‘a free public service to teach children to read withphonics.’’ It provides various activities for child-directed instruction.(http://www.starfall.com)• MeeGenius ‘‘features beautifully illustrated and engaging e-books withRead-Along Technology, so that budding readers develop word recognitionby seeing words while hearing them pronounced.’’ It offers free and low-costaccess to classic children’s literature. (http://www.meegenius.com)My main point in bringing up decoding is that we need to keep our eyeson the ball: we need to make sure
of our students are reading on gradelevel, and if they’re not, we need to help them get there. I’ve been in too many schools where their policy of social promotion enables the adults to shirk thisresponsibility. In many failing schools and districts, students enter kindergartenunable to read—and then are not taught to read well enough to catch up. Parentsdon’t want their kids to fail. And, of course, kids don’t want to be held back. Butwhen they reach third grade and can’t read the standardized tests, they won’t passthose tests. And so it will continue in fourth grade, ﬁfth grade, and onward. If they keep getting promoted, they might make it to high school. But they won’tgraduate. I don’t know why anyone is
at the high dropout rates in somedistricts. When you think about it, if you were in ninth grade and could barely read, you’d feel angry, frustrated, and depressed, too. In this situation, faced withthe prospect of several more years of failure, dropping out would seem like alogical decision.So—we have work to do.About ﬂuency, Lemov asserts that it ‘‘consists of automaticity plus expressionplus comprehension,’’
and I agree. In order to read expressively, you have tounderstand what you’re reading. Modeling dramatic reading for students willhelp. Giving them practice will also help. Partner reading can make this processmore efﬁcient, and you can reconvene the whole class to share highlights andreinforce key points: ‘‘Who wants to read the part where
. . .
?’’ It’s importantto have fair expectations of students who, unlike you, are not reading Hamlet’ssoliloquy for the four-hundredth time. No matter how students perform, you canalways ﬁnd a way to put a positive spin on it. As Lemov notes, if someone deliversa performance that is too wooden, you can respond: ‘‘OK, now that you’ve got
The Literacy Cookbook