Sarah Tantillo, Ed.D. is the author of “The Literacy Cookbook” and “Hit the Drum: An Insider’s Account of How the Charter School Idea Became a National Movement/
She consults nationally with K-12 schools on literacy instruction, curriculum development, leadership, culture-building, mental wellness, and strategic planning.
We all know how important reading is. We know that students who struggle to read struggle in school and life. So why aren’t we doing a better job of teaching EVERY STUDENT how to read?
For a long time, curriculum recommending the ineffective “3-cueing” approach (look at the picture, consider the context, “Does it look right?”) has prevailed. If you walk into many classrooms, you will find students “reading” books that include patterns like “The bear likes to paint. The bear likes to draw. The bear likes to sing.” They have memorized “The bear likes to” and they look at the picture for the rest. Similarly, if you give them a picture of an animal that looks like a horse, captioned “pony,” they will “read” it as “horse.” THEY ARE NOT ACTUALLY READING.
As recently as 2019, “an EdWeek Research Center survey found that 75 percent of K-2 and elementary special education teachers use the method to teach students how to read, and 65 percent of college of education professors teach it” (see “Is This the End of Three Cueing?” by Sarah Schwartz in Ed Week, Dec. 16, 2020).
In her clear and powerful podcast SOLD A STORY, Emily Hanford explains how we ended up here. Then she explains the RESEARCH on the science of reading, which explains why this approach does not work, and what we need to do instead. In short, we need to teach phonics.
Please, please, please: Listen. Here: https://features.apmreports.org/sold-a-story/