Friday, August 19, 2005
IN COLUMBUS, PHONICS IS TEACHING A TOUGH CROWD HOW TO READ
Came across this inspiring news story from Columbus, Neb., which should be read by every teacher and every taxpayer concerned about the reading skills of Nebraska’s disadvantaged children.
The itty bitties at Sunrise Elementary School in Columbus are 81% Hispanic and 62% English Language Learners. The mobility rate there is an astounding 35% per year. What a challenge to teach reading.
But with a federal Reading First grant through No Child Left Behind -- $250,000 over three years – teachers were able to learn a new approach and work with the kindergartners through third graders for 90 minutes a day. They’ve lifted a substantial number of those kids up into reading competence.
Word has it that the same success is being marked in the other 11 Reading First grant schools across the state.
What made the difference? What do you think, silly? What have people like me been SAYING for all these years?
Well, what’s working is not really a new approach. It’s the old, time-tested, tried-and-true approach.
Systematic, intensive, explicit phonics instruction – not the Whole Language gobbledygook that most Nebraska grade schools are still using – is what’s working. If phonics will work this well with kids who come to school with very sparse language skills, imagine what phonics could do for the vast majority of Nebraska kids.
See for yourself:
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