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Reid Lyon on Reading First

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G. Reid Lyon, a key architect of the Reading First program and the former chief of the child development and behavior branch at the National Institutes of Health, weighed in today on the interim report on Reading First released last week.

His in-depth responses on the ednews.org website offer a different perspective on the report, which showed no difference in reading comprehension levels for students who were instructed in Reading First, and those who were not.

Thanks to JohnL at Teach Effectively for the tip.

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Recent research has shown that memory is stored in multiple brain regions all over the brain and where memory is stored is somewhat unique to each individual. For the moment, think "whole brain" (NOT to be confused with the unfortunate term "whole language").

It stands to reason then that, for comprehension to occur, readers must access knowledge about reading-related subject matter where ever that information is stored in the brain in the moment, as they are reading. Again, "whole brain".

THAT is scientifically based.

Isn't it potentially harmful, then, to focus early reading instruction almost exclusively on the "language centers" of the brain (re: phonemic awareness and decoding)? Of course sound-symbol knowledge is needed, but sounding out words systematically, left to right, as a "reading" strategy ignores the reality that the brain must, first and foremost, construct meaning from text as the primary reading strategy.

The SBRR that claimed that systematic, explicit phonemic awareness and decoding instruction were the right way to teach reading was incomplete. It completely ignored other significant scientific realities of the human brain.

Speed reading is possible because speed readers gather only key information in the process of reading. They construct meaning from strategic phonics information -- NOT each...and...every...sound,...each...and...every...syllable,...and...each...and...every...word.

Reading that way is slow, inefficient, and a detriment to comprehension.

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