Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Reading Recovery: Just the Facts?
Reading Recovery (RR) devotees often laud RR as the most effective first-grade remedial intervention program available for children having difficulty learning how to read. Others see RR as a mirage, an unintended but cruel hoax that brings children more harm than good. Well then, is RR really what’s best for kids? And what does credible research say about the RR controversy? Considering RR’s extravagant costs (but often grossly underreported!) and the possible academic impairment to children, these questions demand answers. Doesn’t it make sense to examine these critical issues? Does Reading Recovery really belong in public schools?
Dr. Marie M. Clay designed RR in New Zealand during the early 1980’s. Clay intended for RR to reduce reading failure among first grade children, as a supplement to the now infamous whole language (WL) reading strategy. WL directs children to place emphasis on sentence contextual cues (guessing) rather than letter-sound (phonics) strategies. Trained RR teachers, in accord with Clay’s patented procedure, provide one-on-one intervention instruction for 30 to 40 minutes per day for 12 to 20 weeks.1 The cost: $7,000 – $11,000 per child!2 Struggling first-graders who read at the bottom 20% of their class are the targeted population. RR is considered “successful” when a child’s reading level is brought up to the class average.3 In low performing schools the class average could be at a dysfunctional reading level! Even so, the reading impaired student, however dysfunctional, has achieved RR’s goal and is “discontinued” as a “success!”
RR students’ “success,” reported by the RR teacher, much like the emperor’s new clothes, is often not observed by the regular classroom teacher. The Chapman et al, (2001) study revealed a huge discrepancy between mean (near average) book level gains reported by the RR teacher (16.6), and gains reported by the classroom teacher (9.0) for the same (discontinued) children. Independent research supported the classroom teachers’ assessments. “Because those who have a vested interest in the success of Reading Recovery collect and collate data from the children participating in the program, systematic bias may be introduced into the assessment process when a measure as unreliable as reading book level is used.”4 Is RR’s reporting system flawed?
A study conducted at New Zealand’s Massey University by Chapman, Tunmer, and Prochnow (August 1999) found that “RR failed to significantly improve literacy development of children considered to have succeeded in the program. One year after completing RR, the participating children’s reading skills tested about one year below age-appropriate level and showed no signs of accelerated reading performance. Also, the children demonstrated lower self-esteem and discouragement over poor reading and spelling skills. Teachers reported some RR “graduates” as being less adaptive to assignments and having more behavior problems. The study also indicated that RR students needed greater exposure to word-level (phonics) skills and strategies.5 But Clay contends that children’s attention may be diverted from comprehension and understanding “when instruction directs students to conscious manipulations of letters, sounds, or single words.”6 Unfortunately, Clay’s impaired argument opposing emphasis on systematic, explicit phonics instruction is taken seriously by some misguided teachers and school administrators. Clay’s errant pedagogy flies in the face of California’s Reading Language Art Standards, and destines even more children to life-long-illiteracy. Is this “what’s best for kids?”
Not for the kids living in Columbus, Ohio, North America’s Reading Recovery headquarters. Columbus schools have, according to Investors Business Daily (IBD) 4/1/99, quit using RR and spent $282,240 to hire Sylvan Learning Center to train teachers how to teach phonics-based, direct instruction methods. IBD has identified RR and whole language as coming from the same pool of failed education dogma. Also, the New Zealand Ministry of Education funded study (April 1998) labeled RR “an ineffective intervention program . . .”7
Interested parents and teachers may want to read B. Grossen’s study, Reading Recovery: An Evaluation of Benefits and Costs.8 Reading Recovery, kin to Whole Language may not be what you want for struggling children. Just the facts?
1 Tunmer, W.E., Chapman, J.W., Massey University, New Zealand. Reading Recovery: As Good As It Gets? Education Review. March 9,2001, p. 8, Under the title, “The case for a Reading Recovery Review.”
2 San Diego Unified School District, Office of the Board of Education. (Author not noted). Reading Recovery Research Project, October 12, 1999 – October 26, 1999 (Revised). National Right to Read Foundation Website: http://www.nrrf.org/sd_rrrp.htm
3 ibid. p.2
4 Tunmer, W.E., Chapman, J.W., Massey University, New Zealand (2001). The Reading Recovery Approach to Preventive Early Intervention: As Good as it Gets? p. 16. And, Chapman, J.W., Tunmer, W.E., and Prochnow, J. E., Massey University, New Zealand. Success In Reading Recovery Depends on the Development of Phonological Processing Skills. Revised research Report for Phase Three of Contract ER 35/199/5, submitted to the Ministry of Education (New Zealand), August 1999. Currently under publisher review. Address correspondence to William E. Tunmer, Department of Learning and Teaching, Massey University, Private Bag 11222, Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Speed Reading – Teaching Tip
Teaching Tip: If you want to help your child increase his silent reading speed, there are two major ways. One, spend lots of money on speed reading technology. Or two, once a day you can have your child read as fast as he can with a pencil while you set your kitchen timer for 10 minutes When the timer dings, he stops and marks his place. He counts the lines he has read and enters into his journal. Each day he tries to read a few more lines than the day before. The one thing you will want him to do in addition to reading as quickly as can is to underline any word he is not 100% sure of. You can tell him the reason. Things that are not important, we skip. We don’t want to skip words and give our God-given computer brains the wrong message. Things that are important, we underline. The message becomes clear to our computer brains that there is a problem to solve. Quite often, after underlining the same word several times, your child will know what the word is without knowing why he knows. Or, because he knows that word must be important to know, he will ask, “Hey mom, what’s this word?” And he’ll remember it.
Please visit our website (www.avko.org) for more free ideas on how to teach reading, spelling, and keyboarding.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Research on Learning Styles and a Request for Rebuttal Studies
by Cathy C. Shank
A colleague of mine did some recent research to try to find evidence that that teaching to a person's learning style is an effective strategy to promote learning (or that it is any more effective than NOT teaching to the learning style). He could find no proof that this strategy works. Does anyone know of any research that shows such proof?
Here are summaries from 2 articles he found and his analysis:
The application of learning style theory in higher education teaching Dr. David Robotham, Visiting Lecturer in Human Resource Management Wolverhampton Business School, University of Wolverhampton, Compton Road West, Wolverhampton, WV3 9DX Written: 1999
This paper began by arguing that in order for learning to be effective in achieving desired outcomes, educators need to have an awareness and understanding of individuals' learning styles. Although it is possible to identify the learning styles of individuals, it is questionable whether such an approach is valid. Using existing inventories of learning styles,
individuals are simply allocated to a narrow range of categories, containing a limited number of learning activities to which they are, in theory, best suited. The suggestion here is that this a fundamentally flawed approach. Higher education teaching should seek to move beyond the enhancement of performance within a narrow spectrum of activities, and consider the development of foundation skills, such as self-directed learning. An able self-directed learner may still choose to use a particular learning style that is relatively narrow in nature, but they are consciously taking that decision, in view of their perception of the needs of a particular situation. There is also a need for further research into learning styles to establish whether they are temporally stable. Longitudinal studies of groups of students during their degree studies would help to identify how learning styles may change.
An Overview of Learning Style Models and Their Implications for Practice.
Freeman, Michael K.; Whitson, Donna L.
Journal of Adult Education, v20 n2 p11-18 Spr 1992
Friday, March 4, 2011
Instructions on How to Transfer Downloaded E-Book Files from your Computer to Your Kindle with a USB Cable.
Instructions on How to Transfer Downloaded E-Book Files from your Computer to Your Kindle with a USB Cable.
Things You Will Need:
- Computer / Laptop with an E-Book(or E-Books) in it.
- Amazon Kindle
- USB cable that is connected to your Kindle charger
After you have downloaded the E-Book into your computer.
1. Remove the electrical plug from the end of your Kindle charging cord. This will reveal a USB connector that you can then plug into any USB port on your computer.
2. Plug the other end of the Kindle charging cord into the charging port on your Kindle. Your Kindle can be on or off for this part of the process. The Kindle's charging port doubles as the data transfer port. When your Kindle is plugged into the computer you will be able to both recharge its battery from the computer's battery and transfer files.
3. Wait until your Kindle automatically goes into USB drive mode and appears in your computer's system as a removable mass-storage device, just like a Flash Drive or External Hard Drive or a DVD / CD would.
4. Double-click on the Kindle's icon to open a window displaying its various folders. Locate the folder designated for the file type you want to transfer from the computer to the Kindle. Note that only certain file types--.PDF, .AZW, AZW1, .TXT, .MOBI, .PRC, .AA, .AAX and .MP3--are currently readable by the Kindle as of early 2010.
Locate the files you want to transfer on your computer's hard drive, then drag and drop them into the appropriate Kindle folder.
6. Disconnect your Kindle from the USB cable. It will automatically return to wherever you may have been reading before you connected it to the computer.
Scope and Sequence of Word Patterns Presented in
Here you will find the word families that are tested in each level of Sequential Spelling, including the order in which they are presented. Levels 1 and 2 have a bit more detailed information, including examples of the easiest and hardest words of each word family, the number of words presented in each word family, the number of repetitions, and even the number of beginning 2nd graders who can spell the easiest word (based on Harry Greene's 1954 study). Levels 3-7 give you an abridged version of this table, with just the word families tested.
We have also given you all of the evaluation tests of all of the levels (teacher's editions) so that you can get a better idea of what each level contains.
Although we recommend, generally, that everyone starts at level 1 (see Where to Start with AVKO Materials), you may find that this is too easy for your child, especially if he is above average in spelling. You may choose to accelerate the lessons, "spot-check" the word families and test on them only if they are missed, and/or choose to develop your own Sequential Spelling tests. You may also be interested in Individualized Spelling if you would like to make your own tests. If you would like more information on customizing the program to meet your specific needs, please do not hesitate to contact us. The Sequential Spelling method is extremely adaptable because of how it is set up and the principles on which it was founded.