Science of Reading

“There is nothing permanent except change.”

No, this quote wasn’t coined by your school superintendent, building principal or grade level team leader, although it surely could have been. It was actually first stated by Heraclitus of Ephesus, an Ancient Greek philosopher who, believe it or not, never taught in an elementary school! Anyone in education would surely agree that teachers are the most flexible of people…ready to embrace change on a daily basis. Sometimes the change is imposed, yet other times, we seek out change ourselves. For example, when we see a colleague using a new strategy or concept that we haven’t tried before, we often find ourselves looking forward to incorporating the new idea, or parts of it, into our own instruction. Yet when larger movements like Science of Reading come along, there is less of a “oh, I like that neat little idea…maybe I’ll give it a whirl in my own class” type of vibe, and more of a total shift in thinking and teaching.

Think about it this way: Remember when you were a little kid lying in bed and you swore there was a monster in your room, but when you turned the light on, what you were actually seeing was a stack of your neatly folded laundry sitting on your dresser? Science of Reading is kind of like that. It takes a research-based approach that, at first glance may sound intimidating, but is actually nothing to fear! At its core, Science of Reading’s essential components include skills that we know our students need and will thrive with: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

If you are personally responsible for teaching young children to read through the Science of Reading approach, take the time to really dig into what the Science of Reading is all about through professional development, webinars and reading of your own! In the meantime, check out a few ways that you can effectively support teaching literacy while using the research behind the Science of Reading as a guide.

  • Be Mindful of the Language your Students Already Know

Oral language is the foundation of literacy instruction. Capitalize on that fact by using your students’ oral language as a springboard. Use it as a way to relate print to speech and to relate letters to sounds.

  • Rework Your Approach to Sight Words

Sight words, also sometimes referred to as high frequency words, come up repeatedly in text. They include words such as the, is, of, was, said, and many more. Through the Science of Reading approach, teachers model how the letters and sounds in sight words correspond to one another and how the words can be decoded through initial sounds & irregular spellings.

  • Be Explicit and Systematic when teaching Decoding Strategies

Teach your students to do the following things when figuring out words:

  • Look through the entire word from left to right
  • Use your finger as a help to segment words into sounds, syllables, or chunks
  • Blend the sounds and letter strings
  • Think about whether or not words make sense
  • Ask for help if you aren’t sure
  • Use Decodable Books

Providing decodable books allows students to feel empowered and confident as they truly read all of the words on the page. Does this mean that Science of Reading suggests doing away with all of your predictable and read aloud books? No! Continue to provide a variety of readable text for your students.

  • Incorporate Word Building Activities

Using skills – like blending and segmenting sounds to build words – plays a powerful role in developing word attack skills. Rather than teaching letters and sounds in isolation, Science of Reading encourages teachers to show letters as a way to build words right from the beginning! Designed for multilingual learners, the GrapeSEED Curriculum provides a strong foundation for literacy instruction to be built upon! Want to learn how the predictable patterns of letter/sound relationships, phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, decoding skills, fluency, and comprehension are taught using GrapeSEED’s engaging, age-appropriate songs, stories, chants, poems, big books, action activities, writers, and more?

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