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There are 6 comments on POV: We Need to Be Better at Teaching Kids to Read

  1. Is BU’s college of education currently teaching future teachers to use Lucy Calkins’ “balanced literacy” and the “three cueing system?” Rather than systematic, explicit, phonics instruction? If so, I am quite alarmed by how behind my alma mater is on the research-based methodologies of teaching reading. This article in Education Week is from 2019, and it references the American Public Media Podcast series titled “Sold a Story” by Emily Hanford, from 2018.

    For those who are unfamiliar, “three cueing” teaches children strategies of poor readers, like “eagle eye: look at the picture and guess what the word is, and “skippy frog: skip the word you can’t read.” Unless is children are *also* being taught *how* to break apart words and read them (i.e. “decoding,” or “phonics”) these strategies will fail them when books don’t have pictures, or there are too many big words to skip.

    1. Yes!!! The Lucy Calkins program does not teach SOR! Looking at the picture to help solve a tricky word is not an effective reading strategy.

      In order to learn to read children must know the alphabetic principle. Know all the letters, and how those letters and combination of letters (blends/digraphs) make sounds, then how to blend sounds to build a word is critical in order to learn to read.

  2. I respect the Dean’s transparency in proclaiming the D grade that Wheelock College received. As a retired high school educator and administrator, over the years I have discovered that there is indeed too much emphasis on new “research-based techniques” to teaching reading (most of these “new” techniques are like throwing jello at the wall and see what sticks) and not enough emphasis on the phonics-based approach that MOST readers learned and were successful with. As one who spent a career in special education, obviously many students struggle with the phonics approach. The best solution in teacher training (in my most humble opinion and experience) is to not only show aspiring teachers the different techniques to teaching reading but to show how they work and to have to the college students create a reading program for, say, one month using a template that the professor has provided. Too many programs that I have observed merely highlight the different approaches to teaching reading and seem to feel satisfied that they have done their job. The students need to practice creating these programs so they can apply them to actual students. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to apply these practices to actual students before graduation; it’s not feasible to send students into actual classrooms and disrupt what the classroom teacher is already doing. However, teaching the various approaches and having students actually create some programs from these approaches for practice is a start.

  3. I enjoyed reading this article, but was so surprised to see that BU Wheelock received a “D.” When I attended Wheelock in the 70’s, I felt that I was very prepared to go out into the teaching world Wheelock did a fabulous job with course selections. After Wheelock, I received my MS in Reading Education (now Literacy). My first job was as a Reading Teacher for First Graders (3 years)and then a First Grade Teacher (26 years) and a Third Grade Teacher (8 years). I am now retired but still tutor Reading in person and on line. The Pandemic had a lot to do with the “halt “ in teaching children how to be independent thinkers and readers. We as a society need to pay close attention and focus our teaching to help lessen this gap. Yes, teaching our BU Wheelock students the “how” and “why” of teaching reading (as welll as other subjects) is important but instilling the “love” of teaching students is equally as important. I look forward to reading a follow up article on how BU Wheelock is doing.

  4. I’m so glad to hear Wheelock is aware of the science of reading and is making an effort to change curriculum so that our future teachers are properly trained on how children learn to read. If anyone is interested, The Right to Read film is a documentary that talks about the literacy crisis in America, how we got here, and evidence to support the science of reading as being our road out of this crisis. I’d love to see Wheelock hold a screening. More info:

  5. Reading is an important part of school and a skill that helps people learn throughout their lives. Reading well not only helps you do well in school, but it also helps you think critically, use your mind, and understand how others feel. It is very important to improve the ways that reading is taught right away. It’s important that we put an emphasis on teaching methods that have been shown to work, make sure everyone has access to good reading materials, and give teachers the right training and tools. As times change and the needs of the future workplace change, a strong background in reading will give the next generation the confidence to face obstacles and take advantage of possibilities.

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