The following is from the conversation between Dr. Kathryn Garforth and Jennifer Buckingham.
Sight words or one that has been memorized based on its shape vs the word that has been orthographically mapped. Because I see in many classroom teachers sending home Dolch words and expect kids to memorise them. Let us talk about why that is not the best approach and how memorizing a word is different from mapping it orthographically in your brain (Kathryn Garforth).
Response from Jennifer Buckingham
Children are expected to memorise a long list of words by memorizing the way the words look and its visual properties, not thinking about phonemic properties.
There are lots of words that are visually similar… if you are trying to remember the word ‘look’ by the shape of the word of course it can be book that has the same shape.
Scientists have discovered more than 20 years ago that words are not stored visually.
‘Because reading involves visual input, everyone presumed that it also involved visual storage. However, input and storage are not the same thing’. (Dr.David Kilpatrick)
Let me quote further from Dr. Kilpatrick's book, ‘Equipped for reading success’.
When we read, we attend to virtually every letter of every word we read. If we did not attend to every letter of the words we read, we could not instantly recognize words that differ from one another by only one letter.
Those letters are taken in simultaneously, not in a sequence like when we phonically sound out words. When a reader encounters a string of letters, he immediately recognizes it as a familiar letter string, which in turn activates the oral word. The visual span takes in all the letters at once; so all the letters simultaneously activate the oral word.
If activation did not occur at the letter level, we would constantly confuse look-alike words.
I do hope this will stop all these SSP proponents continuing to say that whole language learners visually memorise words using letter shapes.
How do we ever end the reading wars if retired teachers and other educators keep arguing with an intention to win an argument instead of discussing with an intention to learn from each other?