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13 February 2016 @ 12:07 pm
Truth in Advertising  
Here we go again. Another programmed approach to reading touts that is research-based. Look closely, however, and you will discover that the program itself has not been subjected to experimental research that demonstrated its effectiveness. Instead, the components of the program have some data to suggest that this piece and this piece and maybe even that piece might be effective. This, folks, is not the same.

Read Naturally (www.readnaturally.com) has wonderful graphics to demonstrate how their program works. Teacher Modeling is one component. Let's start here. Yes, there is research to support teachers as models. We have talked about this for decades. Students how have teachers who are readers are more likely to read themselves. Having models of literacy is one factor that can assist readers as they develop their identity as lifelong readers. So, yes, this piece of the model has some basis in research. Monitoring progress? Absolutely, there is research that underpins the value of monitoring progress. How that progress is monitored though, is not apparent from this lovely diagram. If progress is monitored only through quizzes and tests, then the progress being monitored is chiefly progress on the quiz or test and not necessarily in reading. Repeated Reading can also be effective according to some research. However, how is this reading done? What content is being read again (and again and again)? For what reason are they reading again (and again and again)? You can give a student a list of nonsense words and have them repeat them over and over until they pronounce each one correctly (according to someone else's designation of correct) and that does not necessarily improve much of anything having to do with reading.

Now, this program is not alone in taking bits and pieces of strategies and activities we know can improve reading and combining them into a new and improved program. And the bottom line is this: it is still a program. It is still a one-size-fits-all approach to reading, in this case reading intervention. It asserts that it can cure all the reading ills; it asserts that it is based on sound research; it asserts that it is the cure all for what ails test scores. It is none of the preceding, though.

What works? Reading aloud (see Donalyn Miller's interview here: http://oomscholasticblog.com/post/never-too-old-reading-aloud-independent-readers-donalyn-miller). Choice (see Dick Allington's article here: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar12/vol69/num06/Every-Child,-Every-Day.aspx). Access to books (see Krashen here: http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/articles/access_to_books_and_times_to_read_versus_the_common_core.pdf).

However if I took these three factors and jammed them into some kind of programmed approach, I could not label that program as research-based. The components are. If I want to make this a program and tout its effectiveness from a research perspective, I would need to design a model and do the research. But i do not want to do this. I do not want to put together a program (though it is lucrative). I want to develop my teaching identity and philosophy. I want to make my own decisions about when and how and why to intervene or not intervene. Unfortunately, there are way too many schools and districts where this is not permitted, where it cannot happen, where kids ar being deprived of what they need to become lifelong readers.

Yesterday, I had the honor of delivering the keynote to a group of educators in east Texas. I spoke about CHOICE, ACCESS, RESPONSE and ENGAGEMENT. I talked about the long history of these factors, about their basis in good pedagogy. I urged the participants to take the research on what works and use it to guide their work in the schools. The folks I follow for their wisdom in the field urge the same thing. I am lucky to have Donalyn Miller, Penny Kittle, Kelly Gallagher, Kylene Beers, and others that continue to inform my teaching. And I think of the giants who came before us all: Carlsen, Smith, LaBrant, Nilesen and Donelson, Hipple, Gallo, Abrahamsson, and so many others whose voices have given rise for our own voices today.
 
 
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