Friday, January 21, 2022

Balanced Literacy or SOR - my comments on Dr. Sam Bommarito's blog post


On 16.1.2022, I read a post on Dr. Sam Bommarito’s blog. Here are a few extracts and my comments.

Dr. Sam:


On the one hand, everyone agrees that the current state of reading instruction is not acceptable. SOR advocates claim Balanced Literacy is the root cause of the problems in reading. They view Balanced Literacy as lacking instruction in phonics and the use of orthographic information.


My comment:


That the current state of reading instruction is not acceptable has been echoed for decades and is nothing new. I have repeatedly said that the common thing during all the different methods of teaching is the teaching of sounds represented by letters. As such if there is a reading problem during all methods of teaching we should look at the root cause of the problem. The root cause is what is present during all the methods of teaching.




So what we have is a situation where some districts are using Balanced Literacy or SOR with some success. HOWEVER, there are many other districts whose programs are not successful. It could be these districts are not doing the programs with fidelity. It could be that they really don’t have coherent programs. The bottom line is that those districts are doing things that just aren’t working. That is the main source of the current literacy problem.


My comment:


This is similar to what I have been saying with regards to phonics. Phonics is not taught with fidelity. The foundation of phonics is teaching the phonemes exactly the way it should be taught and not with extraneous sounds which kids find impossible to blend. How in the world is a child to blend kuhohtuh to sound out the word coat? Read more in my blog post here


I repeat my mantra: Teach all children the correct pronunciation of phonemes and no child will be left behind. Stop this nonsense of programs not being successful. Many schools with W/L had been successful just like many schools teaching Balanced Literacy. HOWEVER, (as pointed out by Dr.Sam above) there are many districts that have been unsuccessful regardless of the programme implemented.




Remember that I’m advocating for a centrist position that says we need to look at ALL sides and draw from all sides…. We need to work to find common ground. We need to use common sense to do so.


My comment:


Common sense? Where has it gone? Common sense says teach phonemes with fidelity/ exactly the way it should be taught as in the video in this post. LINK.


KateGladstone said...

From what I know of SoR and what I know of Sam Bommaroto’s wOrk,:

NEITHER of them agrees with, or teaches, the pernicious practice of turn8ng e dry speech-sound into a syllable that ends with “UH”!


MANY of the people who do “Reading Recovery” —
AND many of the people wh9 do “SoR” —
do this,

and claim that there is no other way to present any consonant-sound,

and claim that they were therefore taught to do this,

and appear unable to hear any difference between (say)
“kuh” and “k,”
between “muh” amd “m,” etc.,
when this is demonstrated,

and ridicule/publicly shame/lower the marks of
any child who gives any evidence of noticing a difference between the two,

and explain this on the grounds that
“this child is not perceiving correctly / this child is just making trouble,” and so on.

Such things get particularly nasty when (as sometimes)
one meets a child or adult (often, a reading teacher!)
who USED to be able to hear the difference,
but who was (as a schoolchild) ridiculed/shamed into losing that competence,
and who is now proud that he or she has, well, had that competence removed:
“Oh, yes, Kate, I remember that I USED to be, long ago,
one of those stupid children who nonsensically think
that the sound at the beginning of the word ‘me’
somehow isn’t actually ‘muh’ but is somehow different.
I used to be like them — I used to think that I could hear some kind of difference between ‘muh-aah-nuh’ and ‘man’ … but my first-grade teacher made sure I stopped all that nonsense, and the other children helped her with that by treating me badly until I learned better, just like them!"

By the way, I have friends in both camps ("SoR" amd "RR")
Because of your connection with Sam Bommarito, you may be interested in the following, where Sam and I are talking together (Although not about that issue) is and

Luqman Michel said...

Thank you for your comment Kate.