The phrase “Science of Reading” is popping up everywhere these days, from new state mandates to classroom curriculums, but it’s not just a buzzword. The Science of Reading has been around for decades, successfully implemented by teachers in their classrooms, but it got its spotlight recently when drastically low test scores threatened our future generations. Why aren’t kids learning to read if we have all of the phonics and whole-language theories active in our classrooms? And what do we do now?
Science of Reading is the answer to this. That said, it’s often misunderstood, so let’s get you in the know.
1 - You can’t just “do” the Science of Reading.
The Science of Reading is a term used to refer to the interdisciplinary body of research that contains information about the teaching of reading and writing, including the issues found within.
2 - The National Reading Panel defined 5 Pillars of Reading, but there’s actually a 6th to consider.
This encompasses several components including phonemic awareness, phonics and orthographic mapping, fluency, vocabulary, and oral language comprehension, but also should take into consideration students’ background knowledge and how they build to that knowledge over time through effective language skills.
3 - There are 44 unique sounds in the English language despite having only 26 letters.
If we explicitly teach these sounds (also known as phenomes), in a systematic way, letting kids in on the why behind the etymology of certain words and the reason behind what seems to be screwy spelling for the Germanic English language, they can grow in leaps and bounds.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg of all of the tidbits of knowledge that the Science of Reading contains as research-based practices for teaching literacy.
The most important part of the Science of Reading Research?
Nothing beats one-on-one instruction and human interaction, where mouth position and sounds can be corrected, reading disorders can be suspected and tested, and genuine interaction with the language can be modeled on a daily basis.
For more information on the Science of Reading, check out the University of Florida Literacy Institute (UFLI), one of the most respected practitioners and supporters of SoR on the scene.