Sunday, August 13, 2017

Discourse with Dr. Selznick (Part ii) – Why kids shut-down

“I agree with you that many of these kids are instructional casualties and if they had been taught differently, many would have not shut-down.”  (DR. Selznick)

Luqman Michel: James Wendorf said, in The Children of the Code series, “Make sure that reading is taught in the most effective way”.

For the time being, let us leave the most effective way of teaching aside. What we should not do is to teach them in a wrong way. Imagine a child taught wrongly for two years in kindergarten.

If we do not teach children wrongly in their formative years in school (kindergarten and even earlier in playschool) I believe we won’t have students shutting down in grade school. 
“Most struggling children are struggling because what they learned in the past is inadequately resourcing or maladaptively directing their current learning.” (Learning Stewards org.)

All kids I have taught in over 10 years are kids who had shut-down because of having been taught the letter sounds wrongly. The second cause is teachers teaching them just one and sometimes 2 sounds without explaining that many alphabets may have more than 1 or even 2 sounds. Many teachers both in my country, Australia and in the US teach sounds of alphabets wrongly. Here are two videos that are accessible by most parents and this causes the children to be confused and thereby shut-down.

a)      Sounds taught wrongly:
Listen to the 2 videos and see how sounds are taught wrongly. This is how they teach in many schools.

b)      Not informing kids that many alphabets have more than one sound.
For example, teachers teach short and long ‘O’ as in orange and oval.
But children are confused when the teacher reads the words; one, oven, onion etc without explaining that the letter ‘O’ has more than these two sounds as in orange and oval.

The above is true with all vowels and some of the consonants.

You will recall me informing you that my students read well in Malay and romanised Mandarin because each letter has only one sound. (With the exception of the letter ‘e’ which has two sounds in Malay.)

Here are some excerpts from the Children of the Code:

Seigfried Angelmann: “They didn't get the idea, or we could not teach them, because we reinforced them too long in assuming "one symbol, one sound."

David Boulton: “This is what we're teaching children, or at least many parents are when they first expose their kids to letters. We act as if letters have this definitive, one-to-one kind of correspondence with sounds. Sesame Street does that and books and crib mobiles and everything else, as if letters have definitive sounds.”

Dr. Selznick’s comment: The first time you sent this I did take a look at the videos.  I wasn't impressed.  I'm not sure if it is accurate as a representation of the way reading is taught, although I agree there is a lot of bad reading instruction out there.  
I also agree that a significant portion of the emerging readers in the early grades would benefit from more explicit instruction as you note.  No argument there.  

Luqman Michel: Thank you Dr.Selz. This is the way reading is taught in my country, Malaysia. I believe it is the same in the US, NZ and Australia.  I understand from friends that many schools in UK are already paying attention to the proper way of teaching phonics.

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