The science of reading professional development explained

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    What is the science of reading and how does it apply to literacy instruction? This article answers those questions.

    The science of reading professional development explained

    Reading instruction evolves constantly. The techniques we use to help students with reading comprehension today are far different from those used in previous years. Literacy instruction is informed by science, with many years of research going into how we teach.

    The science of reading now allows teachers to help struggling readers in ways they couldn’t before. Now, those with dyslexia have access to professional learning environments backed by years of reading research.

    In this article, we examine the science of reading. We explain how this science covers all components of reading, from early literacy and foundational skills to more advanced techniques.

    What is the science of reading?

    Think of the science of reading as the collective knowledge we have gained regarding language comprehension. Teachers offer reading instruction using research-based literacy programs.

    These programs describe the how and why of reading as much as they teach basic concepts, such as decoding and phonics.

    It’s important to note that a single study does not constitute an entire science.

    Take the subject of early literacy as an example. There are tens of thousands of studies in this area, some of which are at odds with one another.

    Far from sparking reading wars, these studies provide the background knowledge needed for phonics instruction, allowing for the creation of many structured literacy programs.

    However, the sheer number of studies conducted presents challenges when creating a reading program. Educators must look for a convergence of evidence.

    This means searching for many studies that point to similar results, thus establishing literacy practices that are likely to work for the majority of students.

    The simple view of reading

    The simple view of reading is one of the most important models in the science of reading. It allows educators to measure reading achievement and oral language skills using a simple equation:

    Reading comprehension (RC) = Decoding (D) x Language Comprehension (LC)

    This equation informs the explicit instruction many teachers offer to learners. It shows us that learning to read requires the ability to recognize and sound out words, otherwise known as decoding.

    Beyond word reading, the equation also shows that learners must be able to make sense of or comprehend the words they read.

    The simple view of reading hides many complexities. Still, it’s the core model for reading success in many programs.

    The five core components of the science of reading

    The body of research is clear when it comes to the components of the science of reading. There are five components, implemented at every grade level, each backed by research that shows that the component works:

    • Phonological Awareness – Teaches students how to recognize and use the letter sounds in words. Students start by learning syllables and sounds called phenomes. By the time they’re in third grade, they can connect phenomes to letters, allowing them to decode words.

    • Fluency – Students learn to read aloud. They read from texts containing connected sentences and paragraphs. This component enables automatic word recognition, with understanding being the key goal.

    • Phonics – A literacy approach that explicitly teaches letter sounds and word patterns. The student reads and writes words in isolation. Eventually, they graduate to using those words in texts.

    • Vocabulary – Instruction becomes more language-rich in this component. Teachers use read-aloud text to explain morphemes. These are affixes, root words, and similar word patterns that appear in written language.

    • Text Comprehension – Even at the early reading stage, educators should teach meaning. They discuss texts and focus on the structure of writing.

    These components combine to create strong readers. They also form the backbone of many of the best reading programs.

    Quality programs that promote the science of reading

    There are many programs that employ the science of reading to teach students. The following is a small selection:

    The Reading League

    The Reading League works with schools to create professional development initiatives. It teaches educators about the science of reading and what leads to successful reading. It publishes a peer-reviewed journal and translates key findings from reading research.

    Core Learning

    Core Learning combines teaching for educators and students. It offers plenty of online learning opportunities, such as webinars and articles from leading experts.

    It also examines the various structured literacy approaches. Its program is informed by several leading experts, including Dr. Louisa C. Moats and Dr. David Kilpatrick.

    HMH

    HMH is another valuable resource that helps educators to digest the science of reading. For example, if you want to learn about the concept of the Reading Rope, this resource explains what it is and the role Hollis Scarborough played in creating it.

    HMH helps educators with teaching reading from the Pre-K level onward.

    How Speechify contributes to the science of reading

    Beyond the many theories and studies that inform reading programs, there are many technological tools that help with reading.

    Speechify is one of those tools.

    As a text to speech app, Speechify reads aloud any digital text placed into it. The app comes with a huge selection of AI-powered voices, all of which can teach proper pronunciation and aid in word decoding.

    Speechify isn’t limited to the English language. It’s available in over 14 languages across multiple devices. With Speechify, you make reading easier for those who experience difficulties. If you’d like to learn more about this valuable tool, try it for free today.

    FAQ

    What are the main components of the science of reading?

    The main components incorporate research into phonological awareness, fluency, phonics, text comprehension, and vocabulary.

    Is the science of reading the same as Orton-Gillingham?

    The Orton-Gillingham approach is a multi-sensory and structured way to teach reading, writing, and spelling. It is a program that the science of reading informs, though they aren’t the same thing.

    What is the difference between phonemic awareness and phonics?

    Phonics examines how sounds look when written out. Phonemic awareness helps students understand that words are made up of a series of sounds. Phonics instruction tends to be written, with phonemic awareness lessons being delivered orally.

    What is the National Reading Panel?

    The National Reading Panel was a government body created in 1997. It examined the research into reading and helped to establish the core components used in the science of reading.

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

    Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify

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