Monday, May 23, 2022

Swarm behaviour by Twitters


This morning, 23.5.2022, I read many tweets referring to a post in New York Times.

There was only one educator, Jerusha Beckerman, who spoke her mind instead of following the crowd.

Here are a few of the many tweets and my comments.

Jodi Snowdon @joleigh_snow

Simple fact- if you don’t know the code, you can’t learn to read. You can guess but it won’t take you far enough to reach your potential.


My comment:

What does ‘if you don’t know the code, you can’t learn to read’ mean? Where did she get this idea about guessing?

The National research council in its book on page 6 says that context and pictures may be used as a tool to monitor word recognition. Children should not be taught to use them to substitute for information provided by the letters in the word.

My book uses pictures to guide kids to learn to read. I tell my students to look at the pictures and then read the sentences. No one will guess pony for horse or mouse for rat as they already have been taught the sounds represented by consonants.

𝐉𝐞𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐟𝐞𝐫 𝐋𝐮𝐟𝐭𝐨𝐩 @JLuftop via @NYTimes

 “We have schools that have not benefited from understanding how to do the most important thing we do — ensure students leave literate.”

My comment:

What is the most important thing to do? I have repeatedly said that we should teach consonant sounds correctly to ensure kids do not disengage from learning to read. If this is done correctly it does not matter which books you use to teach kids to learn to read. Millions of kids learnt to read during all periods – Whole Language, Balanced Literature, phonics.

The question to ask is why kids disengaged from learning to read during all these periods. What was it that was instructed wrongly? What was the common factor?


NYT on Lucy Calkins

You may read the article in NYT here.

They cite a half-century of research that shows phonics — sound it out exercises that are purposefully sequenced — is the most effective way to teach reading, along with books that build vocabulary and depth.

My comment:

Should we not ask why kids in schools that teach phonics are also leaving school as functional illiterates?


“So many teachers like me have believed that a professor at Teachers College, an Ivy League institution, should be up-to-date on the reading research,” she said. “The fact that she was disconnected from that research is evidence of the problem.”

My comment:

The tweet by Jerusha Beckerman highlighted in red below answers this well. She is a teacher educator who visits students in a wide range of public & charter schools.


In fact, functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain demonstrates that humans process written language letter by letter, sound by sound. Far from being automatic, reading requires a rewiring of the brain, which is primed by evolution to recognize faces, not words.

My comment:

I have asked several questions on the above in my blog post found here. None of the educators whom I have asked the questions, have responded. Perhaps Dana Goldstein of NYTimes may be able to provide us a response.

Tony Wagner @DrTonyWagner

New understanding of how children learn to read drives important changes in curriculum. Thanks to @DTWillingham and many others. via @NYTimes

My comment:

I refer Tony Wagner to my post above and would be grateful for his insightful comments. I have yet to learn how children learn to read.

Has DTWillingham found a reply to a Tweet by Alanna Maurin as follows:

Alanna Maurin Dec 28, 2020 Replying to @PamelaSnow2@DTWillingham and @EdinspireGeoff

My son had a year of structured synthetic phonics via a scripted program and he struggles to blend. He said puh instead of p, buh instead of b tuh instead of t. A week of correcting this and he is beginning to read fluently. Are there any studies on this?

Mark Seidenberg @markseidenberg

From the bits of draft materials, I saw it could not be determined whether this was an important change or balanced literacy all over again. Many important unknowns about final product. I am more skeptical than Dana Goldstein. More detailed comments when I get a chance.

My comment:

I have written to Mark and commented on his Tweets and tagged him and he has never responded. He ought to know after reading my posts here and here that the main problem in kids being unable to read are as listed in my blog post at LINK

Again, no one has disputed what I have found out from my research of over 15 years.

Jerusha Beckerman @ruebeckerman Mar 9 Replying to @DanaGoldstein

Can you explain where we get the idea that schools these days are NOT teaching phonics? At least in the metro area (speaking as a teacher educator who visits students in a wide range of public & charter schools), my experience is that schools are teaching phonics & phonemic awareness ad nauseum. They’ve all been using Fundations and the like for years. I don’t understand the “science of reading” claim that no one is listening to them. It’s closer to the opposite!

My comment:

This is what we need from educators. Think and do not be influenced by those with a vested interest or those who dance to the tunes of those with a vested interest.

The tweet by Jerusha Beckerman @ruebeckerman was on Mar 9. Here is a tweet from Dana Goldstein this morning.

While critics see Calkins' shift as too little too late, it could meaningfully help children. I visited two schools this semester using her curriculum alongside structured phonics, either from her or another company, and both were getting very solid results with happy kids.

Here is a tweet in response to the tweet by Dana.

Jerusha Beckerman @ruebeckerman Replying to @DanaGoldstein

Yes! This is what I see happening in every school I visit and hear about from my students. A combination of explicit phonics and other forms of literacy teaching. It seems the majority at this point, and yet the discourse is that it’s not. I don’t get that.

Note: I have not read any of the books by Lucy or her text books used in schools. I believe there must be students who did exceedingly well using her books during the past more than 8 years. The question we should ask is whether there are schools that did not use her books in the US. Did those schools perform better? If not there has to be something else that is the cause of the poor performances in all states in the US as well as in the UK and Australia.

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