Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The LEARN Act - What really IS the best way to teach reading?

Here, Susan Ohanian quotes a letter sent by Stephan Krashen to the Congressional sponsors of the LEARN Act.
Conversations like this always make me wonder... What research really counts, and what "research" is merely opinion couched in authoritative-, academic-, and scholarly-sounding language?

Krashen says that the LEARN Act is "Reading First on steroids". He goes on to list lots of reasons why the money is misplaced. That we should instead be investing time and money in having kids READ instead of going overboard on direct instruction of phonics, etc. I was glad to see that he made a distinction between Intensive Systematic Phonics, Basic Phonics, and Zero Phonics. (He advocates Basic Phonics.)
INTENSIVE SYSTEMATIC PHONICS
phonics taught in sequence
all "major" rules
all rules consciously learned
reading = practice of learned rules

BASIC PHONICS
no optimal sequence
consciously learn only basic rules
most rules subconsciously acquired from reading
reading = source of most phonics knowledge

ZERO PHONICS
all rules subconsciously acquired
reading = source of all phonics knowledge

He says that the LEARN Act insists on Intensive Systematic Phonics, and most of what he says in the letter opposes this. However, he clarifies by saying that he is NOT in favor of Zero Phonics.

Interesting conversation, which I presume will not be over any time soon...

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