Thank you everyone for attending this afternoon. I am Ian Ferguson, so I'm the admissions advisor on behalf of Kansas University or the University of Kansas KU. And we are going to... Well, Dr. Hallman and Dr. Bradley are really gonna be talking about the Science of Reading, you know more than what others are telling you. All right, so just a little bit before we get into the presentation about the University of Kansas. So the university is ranked number 19th in the online masters for curriculum and instruction, which is pretty impressive. KU was established in 1866 in Lawrence, Kansas and the School of Ed was established in 1909, so it's been around for over a hundred years. There are more than 300,000 KU alumni. So this is a great aspect to the program. You'll have a strong community that you can connect with. The program is accredited under NCAT and the CAEP standards for programs that lead to licensure outcome. Some other important stats that I really enjoy talking about about KU is that it is the number one best online master's program for special education. The 23rd best online education program for veterans, and number 30 for the best online masters in education programs.
All right. And for the curriculum and teaching programs, we do have three specific ones that kind of fit under the umbrella. There is a curriculum and instruction. There is a TESOL one and then there is a reading one. And I'm gonna focus on the reading one today for obvious reasons, but there are master... There's a master's in reading, a graduate certificate in reading, and then there is a reading licensure specialist or licensure endorsement with that. The nice thing about the graduate certificate, if you are interested in starting it and then you love the program, which I'm sure you will, you could roll it up into a master's with some of those credits. But if you are interested, we can go into more detail about that later.
All right. Sum of the program structure. It is a 100% online and it is also asynchronous, so that means that there are no designated login times for the program. It is a more practical approach to education. Ideally, you're gonna be learning the things in the classroom at KU, and then you should be able to apply it to the courses that you are teaching at your school. It's designed for the working professional. I say typically it's about 15-20 hours per week of study time per course. But with that being said, it does ebb and flow and the program is designed for the individual who is teaching full-time, who has extracurriculars outside of the classroom, like coaching or mentoring, and then has to go home and cook dinner for the children. So it really recognizes the multiple roles that people wear or have rather, not wear. [laughter] There is no GRE requirements. There are three start dates for the reading programs. Again, there is an engaging online environment. You do get a cohort. The classroom discussions or the discussion posts that happen in the program are quite great. Students will always come back and tell me how much they've enjoyed that. And then again, the NCAT and CAEP licensure outcomes.
Another important thing to note is that the hiring salary trends for KU curriculum and teaching graduates over 93% receive a salary increase within the first year of graduation. And 94% of alumni recommend the program. So you really can't beat the satisfaction of that. And I think that this speaks volumes about the professors that are in this program. So you taking a graduate certificate course and then probably will be seeking the master's right after that.[laughter] All right. Without any further ado, I'm gonna hand it off to our speakers, Dr. Hallman and Dr. Bradley. And I'll let them introduce themselves. Dr. Hallman.
Heidi L. Hallman:
Sure. Thank you, Ian. Welcome everyone. We're excited to hear from you later today and present you with some ideas. My name is Heidi Hallman, and I'm a professor and the chairperson in the curriculum and teaching department at the University of Kansas. I've been here for 16 years, and my area is English education, so I work with students who are preparing to be middle and high school English teachers. That has also been the site of my research. And one of the books I've written did a national survey of how English teachers are prepared by looking at all the teacher preparation programs in the United States. So happy to be with you today.
And again, thank you for being here. My name is Barbara Bradley. I'm a professor of Reading Education here at KU. Sometimes people ask why Reading Education and not Literacy, because that's what my degree is in. That's what's on my transcript, so I feel like I need to honor that. I'm the elementary education program coordinator as well as the reading specialist coordinator. I teach courses in the elementary ed program at undergraduate level and then graduate level. It's pre-K through 12. I'm also currently working on a project with emergent bilinguals and helping preschool teachers serve that population a little bit better, and their families. And my background is early childhood special ed.
So our topic today is The Science of Reading. You know more than what others are telling you and it's a little bit provocative title, but I think we'll explain why we have that as we go along. So this is our agenda. We will be talking about the Science of Reading and why are we just learning about it now? Who is it for? What is it, the Science of Reading in relationship to practices? And we'll give you some suggestions. And some of these may be things that you're doing already in your classroom, which will be very comforting because you really do know more than what other people are telling you. So again, thank you for attending. We know this is a very busy time of the year. It's always busy for teachers and administrators, but right now in Kansas, a lot of the children are doing testing, so it's a little bit chaotic in schools.
So we appreciate that you're here today. But first, we wanna start out with some assumptions that Heidi and I are working with. First that we're going on the assumption that every one of you cares about students and that you really wanna help everyone become proficient readers. And also, when we're talking about being proficient readers, we really need to move more broadly into literacy, that we want students to understand, reading, writing, listening, speaking and viewing. So we talk about reading, but it's really more broadly literacy that we're talking about. And it's not just the act of reading and writing, but it's really to think critically and creatively. We want our students to become productive citizens and move forward, move us forward kind of as a society, move forward and think more critically.
So this is what we're moving this some... We're working on the assumption that this is what you are thinking too. So with that in mind, we've all been hearing about the Science of Reading and really that teachers don't know the Science of Reading, and that's why students aren't able to read. And part of the reason that teachers don't know it is because faculty in higher ed haven't been teaching pre-service teachers. And we really do disagree with that. We feel like teachers are very knowledgeable, that you're very knowledgeable. You're not ignorant, you're not being negligent. At higher ed, that we are teaching these concepts, that we're not ignorant, we're not being negligent, that it's just much more complicated than all of that, that we really aren't very knowledgeable, caring, and hardworking individuals that are trying to move our students forward.
And part of this, when we're hearing that teachers don't know and higher ed aren't doing this, it's kind of giving this impression that the Science of Reading is very narrow. If you just do this, students will learn how to read, that it's kind of a one-size-fits-all model. And we know that that students are all very unique, classrooms are unique, schools are unique, the communities, there's a lot of diversity going on. And what we do need to do is communicate with each other and collaborate to support our students, that we can't do it by ourselves. We really need to work together to help students move forward. So that's kind of the foundation of where we're coming from.
Okay. So what is the Science of Reading? It's a well-established... It's a very large and well-established and dynamic body of research. And it's just not reading, it's reading, writing, listening and speaking, and as well as viewing. These are all of the things that we want students to learn and be able to do. And it's coming from a very diverse group of individuals. So it's coming from research individuals and research teams in the field of education, in the field of educational psychology, speech pathology, linguistics, pediatric, neurology, and I could go on and on. There are a lot of different people that are interested in supporting students and helping them with their literacy skills. And then within each of these areas, people have their own specialty as far as who that they're looking at. Could be general education, special education, and within special education, it could be students with dyslexia, students with autism.
People are looking at English language learners, they're looking at adolescents, adolescent boys, why aren't they reading? And it's also the age group. As I mentioned, my background is early childhood, so we're thinking about young children, preschool all the way up to adulthood. So it's a very large body of research, from diverse researchers that are supporting students and helping them become more proficient in their literacy skills. So again, it's just not this small narrow body of research going, "If you do this, all children will read." It's much more complicated than that. And some people are probably saying, "Well, why haven't we heard about the Science of Reading now?" Well, actually the term Science of Reading is, it's an older term, but we haven't been using that. We've been using a lot of other terms, which is... In education that's very common to have many, many terms representing one concept.
And that's this idea, the Science of Reading has been used to push forward for this agenda of teachers aren't doing enough, higher ed isn't doing enough. And that's bothered us because we do feel that people are working very hard on these issues. For example, there are many people here in elementary, so if you're an elementary school teacher, you've probably heard about the five pillars or the big five of reading coming from the National Reading Panel report. So phonemic awareness, phonics fluency and vocabulary. These are things that you're familiar with. That's what people are talking about with the Science of Reading. You're also hearing now about structured literacy and going, "Well, I haven't heard this." And I would argue you probably have, you may be using different terms. For example, if you're hearing phonological processes, that's very similar to phonological awareness, letter sound correspondence.
I use the term phonics. When you're hearing syllables in structured literacy, that falls under phonics with me. Morphology, inflected endings, ED, ING, the plural S, to me that's going under phonics, but it's also going under spelling too. So you're hearing these terms but you may have other terms for them, but other terms that you're probably very familiar with. Is it now you're hearing explicit teaching? Some of you may be more familiar with the gradual release of responsibility or the I do, we do, you do. The I do is the explicit teaching in there that you're familiar with. And as Heidi mentioned, education has always been this political football and everybody's the armchair coach, everybody's the expert. And we are to some extent experts because we've all been to school, whether it's public school, private school, homeschooling, we do know a lot.
But we would argue that it's the teachers that are in the schools that know the most. And we really respect and value your opinions, that you really know your students as far as what they need, what's working and what's not working, something that we've been hearing for a long, long time. Teachers will tell us, particularly elementary, we have phonological awareness program, we have a phonics program, we have a reading program, we have a writing program, and there's a mismatch. We're not reinforcing the same thing over and over. We're kind of spreading the kids too thin. And this is where as teachers we want you to advocate and say, we need to communicate, we need to do more to support our students. We need to align this. Doing all of these different programs to fidelity is not really serving our students best because they're not... They're pulling them in different directions. So again, we really do believe that you're very knowledgeable hardworking individuals. And again, the Science of Reading, as you can see here, is coming from a lot of different researchers with a lot of different perspectives that are very important.
Heidi L. Hallman:
So I'll talk a little bit about sort of how we situate this in the body of research and what that means. There's a term evidence-based practice. And so we can think of evidence-based practice, as well as scientific evidence as the goal of research. So we don't wanna just produce research to have anecdotes or to have examples. We want to have a body of research that comes together around a particular topic that lets us know as practitioners, this really works with kids. And so one example the National Reading Panel's report about what works with kids in learning to read, we can assure that those pillars of reading should be existent in our curriculum. So what we need to do as practitioners is ask, does our program comprehensively cover each of the evidence-based skills that students need to read proficiently?
And sadly, sometimes teachers and administrators are sold materials that kind of promise a research-based magic bullet to instruction. And I think you're the ones who are in the classrooms and you probably feel kind of skeptical, maybe tired of thinking that there's some quick fix or solution because, really, we know that with our diverse needs of students, we might have a plethora of instructional approaches that meet different students' needs. And that's exactly what we should have and that's rooted in the research. We have to have the foundations of our research that are scientifically proven, but we also have to have enough flexibility to recognize that there are other approaches that can complement. So some of the things that are left out in terms of Science of Reading, if it's given a very narrow approach, are the social components of reading instruction.
The idea that reading doesn't occur in isolation, it always occurs within a community or a classroom. And that classroom climate contributes to how willing students are able to read. So when we give Science of Reading a too narrow approach, we neglect some of those other components that you as teachers probably know are very influential in how your students learn to read. But getting back to the evidence-based practices, we still do need to recognize that there are... There is a need for looking at an accumulation of high quality research that tells us what is going to work with students and what is the most effective practice. And Dr. Bradley and I, to prepare for this we're looking at an issue of Reading Research Quarterly. This is a high tier journal in reading and reading development, and there was a themed issue on Science of Reading that included over 30 articles.
And the key findings from this themed issue included... The first thing was there are multiple studies in this issue focused on deepening our understanding of what is seen as the core of Science of Reading, which is phonics instruction for young children, that this is key to helping students in the early grades learn to read. And then two, though, kind of in contrast to that, there are many articles in this issue that expand our definition of Science of Reading. And so these articles touch on things like academic language, writing. And earlier, it was mentioned that really there hasn't been enough emphasis on the connection between reading and writing. And then third, background knowledge of students. So background knowledge certainly contributes to how well students are able to enter into comprehending a text and for instruction itself, or the pedagogy of the teachers.
So expanding that arena of science, of reading gives us as practitioners attention to those elements of reading that sometimes I think are given as, a soft side of education. So people might say, oh, your classroom climate is good, but are you really teaching with effective practice? And you kind of need to do both. So I think it is good that we have this more broadened idea of learning to read because... In classrooms, because we can't neglect some of the other components, that teachers have to foster in addition to the core of effective practices. And then the third thing was a more expansive view of readers. So certainly, we know that students are reading in different ways now. They're reading on their iPads, they're texting on their iPads, they're playing and interacting with friends on their iPads.
And we're not suggesting that all of those out of school things become imported in school because we know that that's not really realistic, it's not going to happen. But that students are able to negotiate meaning within those digital spaces, and they perhaps can use some of those skills in the classroom as well. And so to give us an idea that learning is... Students aren't robots and that we can draw on some of those skills to help us foster engagement in the classroom. So the final thing here is the program or approach that we use in the classroom has to have some kind of research-based that is proven to work with students like the ones you are working with as a teacher. And so, it's probably upsetting to many teachers when programs get changed too often in order to develop a deep understanding of them. And so I think as teams of teachers, really, as Dr. Bradley mentioning, thinking how all the components of programs work together would be one thing that could be recommended to think, how do these programs together meet the needs of my students and assure that I'm teaching evidence-based practices?
Okay, so is the science of reading only for elementary age students? I think it's probably clear that the answer is no. When we're talking about the science of reading or really literacy, this is for all students. Looking at Scarborough's Reading Rope, it will probably be very familiar to if you're in early childhood in elementary, how to help beginning readers, particularly the word recognition part. But certainly as you move up the grades, as students are struggling to learn how to read, we're still gonna continue to work on word recognition and teaching decoding skills. Something that we can all work, starting with early childhood, all the way through adulthood is the language comprehension, working on background knowledge, teaching background, activating background knowledge, vocabulary. We're always learning new words. The language structures, verbal reasoning, really thinking critically, is absolutely important. And then literacy knowledge is talking about genres and as Dr. Hallman mentioned, all the new technologies, there's constant learning about different ways to read and communicate with others. So the science of reading is for everybody.
So now diving a little bit deeper about some of the evidence-based practices, and obviously as we mentioned, it's a very large body of research, so we can only talk about a few things. So with early childhood, I'm gonna highlight the importance of oral language because language is the foundation for literacy. It's also the foundation for learning. So if you teach in early childhood, preschool age and really kindergarten, but throughout, we really need to think about the language in our classrooms. Children need lots and lots of opportunities to talk with adults as well, as well as their peers. And having conversations with children as we kind of all know, it's gonna support them learning new concept, their background knowledge, as well as vocabulary, but will also support phonological awareness, the sounds of spoken words. And part of this is through the lexical restructuring hypothesis.
If you listen to these words, you'll notice that there's just one individual sound or one phoneme difference. Cat cap, cup, cut. So that's one individual sounds. Now, the children aren't thinking about that because they're thinking about the meaning of words, which they should be, but they're implicitly beginning to understand the individual sounds and words that one sound makes a big difference. So the more vocabulary children have, it will support them later on working more on phonological awareness. We can also, through our conversations, help students with their morphosyntactic skills. For example, if you're in early childhood, it's very common to hear children say, I goed to the store and we'll correct them. Oh, you went to the store. So that's helping them understand the morphology as well as the syntax. And it's also important for us because when they do say goed, we're going, okay, this is good. They're understanding that ed represents the past tense.
They're overgeneralizing it. But, again, this is very good things that we need to be aware of to support our students. Read aloud are also very important because it introduces children to lots of new vocabulary. There was a study years and years ago that said that the vocabulary in picture books is more sophisticated than the vocabulary that two adults would be having in a conversation because a conversation is usually on very common topics, but the vocabulary and picture books has a lot of unique words. So it's a wonderful way to introduce vocabulary to children. And doing a lot of repeated readings. I think sometimes teachers will say no, they'll get bored. And I think if any of you are parents, I'm not a parent, but if you're a parent, children like the same books read over and over, they watch the same movies over and over.
So when we're reading aloud picture books, in different ways, kids will learn more and more about the vocabulary. Play is also a very important time because this is when kids will really have the opportunity to use the... Use the vocabulary, as well as develop their language skills when they're having more in-depth conversations. And also, during meal times is a great opportunity to have kids have conversations. Today is Monday. Mondays are wonderful because you could say, well, what did you do over the weekend? That's an authentic question. It requires a little bit... A higher level of talk because it's more abstract. We weren't there. So they're gonna have to talk about something that's in the past. Same thing with Fridays. What will you be doing this weekend? It requires a little bit more abstract language because it's not the here and the now.
So definitely having a lot of conversations. So what I would recommend for early childhood teachers, the first one is something I think you'll all appreciate. It was something I was told when I first started teaching, is just get a chair or a rocking chair, if you're lucky to have one, and sit and watch and listen to your children to understand what their language is. I think we're so busy trying to teach and we really need to sit back, going, okay, what are they doing? And this was when the speech pathologist pointed out to me, it's like Barbara, listen to them in the play area. They're always saying meat, everything is meat. It's like, no, it's chicken, it's hamburgers, it's tacos. You need to teach them this vocabulary. They don't have that. So we really wanna get kids talking in our classrooms.
Again, as the speech pathologist said, I can't [0:27:05.7] ____ their language unless they're talking. So we want kids to talk. But I will also challenge you if you're in early childhood, is thinking about how often you're really talking with children. In early childhood, we do a lot of behavior management and we can't get away from that because we have 20 little kids potentially running in different directions. So we're kind of always trying to manage them. But thinking about am I having conversations with children and who am I having conversations with? And that was, again, very difficult for me to realize. Some children, I'm having conversations with. In other children, I'm primarily... I'm giving them directions, and there were one or two that I was primarily reprimanding. And that was hard to accept that, okay, this is what I'm doing. I really need to change my behaviors.
So this is something I would recommend you do in... If your preschool teacher in kindergarten, these conversations. And then this back and forth, not just once or twice, but at least six times, where we're going back and forth to have a conversation. And sometimes what we do as teachers, we go around to different centers, we wanna see everybody and kind of a quick check. It might be better if you sit in one area and have these deep conversations with children rather than kind of floating around. So there's a lot that we can do in early childhood that will be supporting children when they move on to the upper grades and start doing more reading and writing. So early childhood, oral language, and of course, alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness, which I will touch on next with elementary. So when we're in the elementary grade, we have our children that are coming with strong language base and alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness.
So in the elementary, really the primary grades when we're teaching children how to read, we're really starting out with, or we're starting with the large sound units, with the words to the syllables onset rhymed and down to the phonemes, that's where we want to get children at, particularly blending and segmenting. There are other more complex skills, but if we can get to the blending and segmenting, we're off to a good start for learning how to read. And with blending and segmenting, it can be the body parts, tapping them out, the head, shoulders, knees, and toes, just really getting them very engaged. And then I have here the Elkonin boxes using chips or pennies, whatever you'd like to do, markers. So when they're doing... We always start with cat. So when they're doing kAt, they understand and then they're blending cat.
So that's the warmup for the kids to get them to think. And then we're doing the letter sound correspondence. And often we do letter tiles, but I have a really big pencil there to remind people that we really want kids writing. And a lot of times I'll just do the, the sheet cover over, an Elkonin box so they can do dry erase markers. Because when children are having to recall the letter sound correspondence and write it, it's really making stronger connections in their brain. And that's what we want, we want kids to recall and really remember deeply. And kind of stepping a little off track, this is why when we take tests, we all like multiple choice tests because all we have to do is find the best answers as opposed to the essay test, where it's like, uh-oh, I really have to learn this and remember it.
It's kind of that sense. If kids are having to recall this information and write the letters, they're gonna remember it. Some of you that have been around for a while also, back in the '80s, Sulzby and Teale wrote a book, Emergent Literacy: Writing and Reading. And in the introduction, they talk about, we put writing first because writing really does drive reading in the primary grades. Everybody can write, preschoolers can write. Yes, it might be drawing pictures and scribbling and mock letters, but once they start writing letters, it's really reinforcing the letter sound correspondence that will support reading. So we're warming up with our phonological awareness, specifically phonemic awareness. We're getting kids writing. And then we're getting... We're asking kids to read decodable texts, because we want them to apply what they're reading, what they're learning to read the skills that we're teaching them.
And one thing, again, for the teachers in elementary, I'm gonna challenge you a little bit to think about how much students are actually reading connected text. I went to a wonderful workshop a few weeks ago and when they pulled it all together, they were basically recommending five minutes of reading. I'm thinking five minutes of reading a day isn't going to help children move forward in learning how to read. And that's the challenge I think for elementary school teachers. We need all hands on decks. We need somebody sitting with children to help them learn how to read, whether it's other adults, whether it's kids in the upper grade, upper grades. And then again, moving this a little bit into the real world, I'm sure many of us, whether we did sports, musical instruments, you have children that are doing that, this idea if I took them to practice for an hour... And for me I was a swimmer, if I only swam five minutes out of the hour, I'm not not gonna learn how to swim.
If kids are only reading a few minutes a day, they're not gonna learn how to read. So that really is getting kids reading as much as possible, to learn how to read and to build their reading stamina. So I do wanna go back... I've got, cat, bat and flat because after we get the letter sound correspondence and they're sounding it out, out the words, which is, yes, painfully slow, hopefully, or the next step is having children recognize the bigger chunks like the at, then they can read more quickly at, bat, flat, and getting the blends and the digraphs in there. And then finally you see cattle at the bottom. Once they can read cat, the larger units, then we can start thinking about syllables. And you might recognize the spot and dot over the A and the E. Some of you might go, oh, the LE count back three, so you know where to divide the words into syllables.
And that's something that we can start teaching children. Actually, once they start getting some of the basics, we can teach multi-syllabic words. What's also very important is they just need to be close enough. And if they're close enough and the word is in their listening vocabulary, they can typically figure it out. And again, I know everybody in the elementary grades, you've seen children read the word paper as papa and then they go, oh, wait a minute, it's paper. So if kids have strong listening vocabulary, if they're close enough when they're doing syllables, they can usually figure it out. We do need to give them strategies, but hopefully they'll get that. So just some ideas to work on helping students. And again, we're hoping that some of this you're going, yes, I'm doing this, I am knowledgeable, and I'm on the right track.
Heidi L. Hallman:
And Barbara did a great job giving a kind of a preview of some of the evidence-based practices for elementary. So certainly in our course, our course sequence and our reading, master's program, we go much more in depth with these elements. And many of you, I'm sure do these things in your classrooms, and so hopefully this is resonating with you in that way. I'm gonna move up to the middle level. And the middle level, kind of thinking about that, as the upper elementary into middle school, children who are approximately ages nine to 14. And so there's a term called the fourth-grade slump that really is a term that is meaning that reading changes in those grades and you all know that, but reading becomes something that is situated in the discipline. So by the time the students are in fifth and sixth grade, they are getting into discipline-specific literacy practices and vocabulary.
And so, the development of academic language becomes really heightened during these grades. And so students don't have a good foundation in the early grades that Barbara just spoke of, the elements of that. They're going to have trouble transitioning to the more disciplinary specific vocabulary that's used in the middle grades. And in regard to academic vocabulary, you maybe have heard phrases like thinking like a mathematician or thinking like a scientist. And so those are references to that idea of school subjects as a disciplinary community. And a teacher within that school subject is immersed in that discipline, but has to make that discipline visible to students through the teaching of academic language and through explicit vocabulary instruction. So I'm just gonna talk a little bit about that. And things maybe to be wary of in terms of teaching academic language might be, it's tempting to think of skills based approaches to learning academic language as the right way to do things.
So, give a student a worksheet, have them exactly copy down a definition of a word from a dictionary. But that's actually a quite a limiting way to teach academic language because it is devoid of interaction. It's not using academic language in context. So, some of you may like classrooms that are chatty and talk a lot and some of you may have a hard time working in that chaos. But there's actually a great benefit, especially as students are in, the middle grades, to having students engage with each other around the... In these discourse communities, because they can kind of try out and practice the use of this academic language and instead of making it kind of a concrete all or nothing. So the trying out and the working with it. There was a great question I was kind of glancing over, but we're not really reading the chat as we present, but I was glancing over and I saw someone wrote, "How do we build prior knowledge, not just activate prior knowledge?" Because when students don't have prior knowledge in a certain area, you're right, you can't exactly activate something that isn't there.
So we're certainly not promoting just, oh, just let the student talk and they'll know. You have to actually provide the content. So in middle and secondary grades that is an important component of building student schema around academic language and vocabulary. Many of you might be familiar with Kelly Gallagher, but in one of his videos, he has a newspaper article about the Dalai Lama, and he reads that aloud with students and says how do we... Who is the Dalai Lama? He's the leader of Tibet. What does this mean? And a lot of students had no idea, but through the explicit vocabulary instruction, through his modeling, he was able to bring out words in the context of that newspaper article. And so I would say that's really the building of that prior knowledge that maybe students we would think they would have, but perhaps they don't.
And it's always a discovery process for us as teachers. What do they come with? What things can we help fill in? Because they are also very active in their learning of content at this age, and we need to promote that. One other facet of the middle grades that I think I already alluded to is the sociocultural practices of using academic language. So sociocultural just means the social and cultural aspects of literacy use. And students really gravitate toward their peer groups and using... Doing things in a setting that they find affirming to who they are. And so that idea of affirmation with the reader identity, but also teachers' great adeptness at facilitating that is a skill that has to be used wisely in the middle grades to get students on board. In an article I was reading in this Science of Reading themed issue talked about how certain reader identities might actually be things students are resistant to.
So the teacher might promote certain texts or books, or why don't you wanna read this? And so that can cause even more and greater resistance to some literacy use. And so that careful balance of what does it mean to have students have some autonomy while still, as a teacher, facilitating progress toward what we think that students should know and should be doing. And so I think that's something in the middle grades, you're all working with, especially thinking about what kind of texts do we teach and promote? Do we teach young adult literature? Do we teach the canon? Do we teach... Do we let students select their text? Do we have book groups? And I think the answer is probably all of those things, but the teacher, him or herself, is a great catalyst in being able to do those things well and sort of to read their students and what their students need.
And then moving on to the secondary level with evidence-based practices, one concept that I thought was really interesting was this concept of textual dexterity. And so when you get to... I just talked about the middle grades as kind of establishing those disciplinary ways of using language and of academic language. And then when you get to the high school level, students are actually kind of maybe already expected to kind of know how to use texts in different and flexible ways. And so if they go to a social studies or a history class, they may start to see connections between other classes or current events. And those things are evidence of textual dexterity that students need to be developed enough in their literate dispositions to be able to move from one kind of text to another. But I think the key is exposing students to that variety of texts and bringing them into that continued discourse communities.
And for teachers to also talk through that, what does it mean to use these kind of texts at this level? And I think I was reading in the chat, students do like to be read aloud to in the middle grades, even in the secondary grades, to try to illuminate what the teacher, him or herself, is thinking, sort of the metacognitive processes. That's where we're really modeling for students, how do we comprehend this text and what questions do we bring to that text from our own experiences. And this continued development of academic language and support of reader identity are, I guess as a secondary person, I think are really important at the secondary level. But of course they are at all grade levels. But that autonomy piece is probably heightened because students have developed already a sense of who they are and who they want to be. And so recognizing, how can I expand my view of what students should be able to do by honoring what they want to do and that careful balance of promoting that in our ELA classrooms and beyond.
Okay. So moving forward, where do we go next? Well, first, we have to acknowledge that as educators, we're all lifelong learners. We always wanna learn more. That's just who we are by nature. So we have a know a lot of knowledge and a lot of beliefs, but just because we know it and we believe it doesn't necessarily mean we're implementing it. We need to reach out to others. I am so thrilled we have instructional coaches here and reading specialists because those are the people we do need to reach out to.
Heidi L. Hallman:
And teaching is often a kind of an invisible act. We often can do it in our own classrooms with our students and close the door and making that more visible through things like observations, discussion, problem-solving can be beneficial for everyone. And I know many of you have experienced probably what that looks like in professional learning communities or with the instructional coaches in your school. But it is a skill. Instructional coaching is a skill that is actually... In our program, we have a course that has... Heavily focuses on adult learners and instructional coaching. And so adult learners, which would be all of you and us, we already come to our practice with a lot of skills and competencies. And so activating those and getting teachers to really build on what they already know is a much more effective approach than just telling someone, you're doing it wrong.
You're not doing the science of reading, because we started this presentation with this premise that you do know more than what others are telling you because you've been doing this in your classroom with your students and you know what works. And we want to highlight how that resonates with the research literature. And so instructional coaches can be a key part of improving practice, but the foundation has to be in recognizing adult learners' needs and really building that relationship of trust that you can dialogue about your practices. And so with this, we're gonna turn back to Ian, I think, and this is kind of wrapping up our presentation part.
[0:45:20.4] ____ think of a few resources.
Heidi L. Hallman:
So we just very briefly, we're not gonna talk about all of these, but I do wanna highlight with April 15th and taxes coming up, this is your... All of these resources are courtesy of your tax dollars. So please get on, please find these resources and download them. Think twice before you print them out, because some of these are really long documents. I'm just gonna highlight the first one. It's the National Early Literacy Panel report because it does focus in on young children. I think the other two reports, the National Reading Panel report people are very familiar with, but there's also one for young children. And then Heidi mentioned Reading Research Quarterly, that there are two special issues. When the editors did a call for the Science of Reading, they were overwhelmed by the response, so they ended up having to do two special issues to look for. The other, again, is, our tax dollars is hard at work, is a What Works Clearinghouse Practice Guide. These are just some of them for early childhood and elementary related to literacy broadly. But they also have resources there for math and working with children with behavior problems. So please go to the... To look for some of these resources.
Heidi L. Hallman:
And resources in middle secondary, improving adolescent literacy. I think you'll see a greater focus on student choice and student autonomy in the resources about the middle and secondary grades. And also, we didn't really touch on the teaching of writing, but I think that that would be an element to science of reading more broadly that could be explored further, that there could be a special issue even on the teaching of writing because writing has been really hidden in the background. And I think if you can improve that in your practice as well, your students are going to benefit from that and become better readers.
All right. Thank you Dr. Bradley, Dr. Hallman. So now we'll go to some of the questions. If you haven't put a question in yet, please feel free to do it. It's up at the top of the screen. All right, so to start us off, they're asking, I'm a veteran teacher looking to gain my reading license. What are the programs I'm looking at, or what if the programs I'm looking at do not mention the science of reading? Are there other key words I should be looking out for?
You know, again, I think with the science of reading, we're all teaching it. I think we're making more of a conscious effort to get that terminology in there because it's a hot topic. But if you're looking at programs when they're talking about really reading, writing, listening, speaking, you're gonna get a well-rounded approach. I think also thinking about your population of students, is it meeting the needs of students that are English language learners? Different aspects like that. But again, I feel like... I mean, we're certainly talking about all of these components in our programs and across multiple courses. You're not just seeing it once, you're seeing it across multiple courses.
Very good. All right. We have another one from Ellen. They ask if this has been taught for so long, why are resources like Lucy Calkins and Fountas and Pinnell still so prevalent?
That's a good question. I think, again, a lot of it is advertisement. People have been around a lot... You know, gold Star standard. Everybody slaps a label saying we're doing the National Reading Panel report, we're doing No Child Left Behind, we're doing science of Reading, we're doing... Every program is going to say we're doing this, to some extent that they are. But again, you need to look at more critically going, is it meeting the needs of my students? And if not, discontinue it. My major professor Steve Stall, years and years ago, he told me, if it works, do it. If it doesn't work, stop. And I think when a district has spent lots and lots of money on a program, they're gonna expect you to do it. But as teachers, we've gotta stand up and just say, it's not working. We need to supplement it in some way.
Heidi L. Hallman:
Right. And someone in the chat, I'm gonna scrolling here mentioned the podcast, Sold a Story, Lucy Calkins. I would suggest that those are things you can investigate on your own time because it does get into the political realm of things. And as Barbara just mentioned, that school districts invest a lot of money in things sometimes without knowing exactly what it's going to be like or what the gaps are. And so it's also become difficult to know, what is the best choice and what does this program really comprehensively cover?
Great. We have another one from Valerie. How would you recommend introducing the science of reading into our K through two curriculum or K through 12, I'm assuming?
Again, I think that with the science of reading, it is all of the components, thinking with young children, starting with oral language, phonological awareness, doing alphabet knowledge, and then decoding skills, the phonic skills, fluency. Again, I'm using some of the older terms, but you're also getting the syllables in there, the morphology, the syntax, the vocabulary, the comprehension. Looking at all of these skills, the content areas, going back to Scarborough's Reading Rope, the issue I think that we have is integrating all of this, how do we get it all to work? And I think that is the challenge because sometimes we break things up into little chunks and we really need longer periods of time to get children to read and getting children to write. So the science of reading is multiple components and figuring out how to get them to write. This is when I would talk across teams, grade levels both vertically and horizontally, getting your reading specialists in there to figure out how do we integrate all of this and who needs what when.
Because if kids are reading chapter books, you don't need to spend that much time with the decoding. You know, let's get them reading, let's get them writing and doing other things. The kids that are struggling, we really need to sit with them because otherwise they're just point blank not reading unless somebody is sitting with them.
All right, this is a good one, I think. What the evidence-based skills for reading that you've mentioned, I have an idea of what I think they are, but would love to hear from you. So what are the evidence-based skills for reading?
As far as some of the skills that students need, they need the phonological awareness. You need to go for the larger units. We need to get them down to the phonemes, because that's when kids are first learning how to read. It's very painful listening to kids read because it's kAt, I see a cat. So they need the phonemic awareness, they need to know the letter sound knowledge, and then they need that constant reading until it becomes more automatic, so quickly and accurately. And then when they're getting that, we're building onto the fluency. So through lots and lots of reading, building their stamina with that. Always with all of this, it's the vocabulary and the comprehension. And as Heidi has mentioned and I've mentioned too, it's the writing. We need to get kids writing because that's reinforcing a lot of these skills. It's not necessarily spelling, it's important, but when children are writing to communicate ideas, they're thinking more deeply about the words that they're choosing, the syntax that they're using, the vocabulary. So there are many things. That's why reading is so difficult. There's just so many skills that kids have to integrate and that's, I think, the challenge that we're all running into.
We have a question from an instructional coach. So how would you suggest I engage my community in science of reading principles? There are about 60% of classes where the principles aren't implemented.
Oh, okay. Yeah, that is challenging when you have a large number.
Heidi L. Hallman:
I would say that you say 60%, if there are teachers who are doing some practice really well, perhaps highlighting that practice and having some kind of forum to share. And that takes time, whether it's in a PLC or whether it's telling... Asking the teacher, could I record you for five minutes doing this practice? You know, this is really effective and I could share this, and how would you feel about that? And I think it's building that trust, but also that visibility, because if you are noticing it, it may not be visible to the other teachers because as we know, we can shut our door and we can be isolated. But if we build some kind of a sharing community, you as an instructional coach can highlight the things that are really great about some people's practice.
And opportunities to observe. I must admit, when I started observing teachers, I thought, oh, I used to do that. Why did I do that? Because when you're the fly on the wall watching, you suddenly realize some of these practices that we thought were wonderful really may not be as beneficial as we think.
Alright, I'll do one final question. And it's, can you explain the difference between decodable text and leveled texts?
Okay. So I'm glad you brought that up because I didn't touch on that. The decodable text, for example, when I did the cat, the fat cat sat on the mat or sat by the bat, these are... We've been teaching children the short vowel. For that case, it was the short A. So we've taught them that explicitly. Now, they're reading that in the text. And then we we can do decodable text, not just short A, but the short E, whatever we've been teaching, they're seeing it, they're reading it, they're rereading the text, they're beginning to understand what it feels like to be... To read more fluently. At that point, they're not fluent readers, but they're getting that sense because they're rereading these texts. These are texts that we can send home because they'll be successful at home with these texts.
But as they're developing more skills, so we can do the level text, it just has a lot more variety. So it's not just the short A and the short E, but it might have all of the short vowel sounds in there. Eventually, it will have all the different concepts. So the short vowel sounds, the blends, the diagraphs, the long vowel sounds with e the vowel teams, the diphthongs, that would be the level text. So starting out with a decodable, when they have a few more skills, getting in some level text. So it's not all of one, and then we switch all over to level text. It's beginning the integration, so they're getting more complex texts in there with the level text. But I can't emphasize enough that kids really just need to be doing a lot more reading. Sometimes we wanna say, well, the parents need to do this. Again, I'm not a parent, but I would push back that we need to make sure they're reading in the schools with us. Whatever we send home, it should be texts that kids can read well so they're not setting up that confrontation with the parents. They're really just practicing what they can already do to reinforce their reading skills.
All right. Okay. That concludes the Q&A portion. Thank you Dr. Bradley and Dr. Hallman. Really appreciate it. Now, just a few other things. Just to kind of recap about the University of Kansas. You know, again, this is a top ranked institution. You know, as you've already experienced, Dr. Bradley and Dr. Hallman are an esteemed faculty. You know, definitely into the research aspects of a lot of things. You have the online engaging and engaging online environment. There's a lot of student support throughout it. And then of course you get to become a member of the Jayhawk community, which is a nice perk in and of itself. The coursework is all asynchronous. There is 24/7 technical support. So when you are in the program and it is online, you are not just dropped in and say good luck.
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Great. Thank you.
Heidi L. Hallman:
Thank you. Thanks everyone.