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Folk(s) 4 America Group

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Words Their Way Blue Book

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Words Their Way Blue Book

Two teens who were once best friends find their way back to each other in a family-owned bookstore. The store is home to books that are filled with letters between the pages, notes in the margins, and favorite quotes underlined and circled by hopeless romantics and long lost friends throughout the years.

Roadway signs in the United States increasingly use symbols rather than words to convey their message. Symbols provide instant communication with roadway users, overcome language barriers, and are becoming standard for traffic control devices throughout the world. Familiarity with symbols on traffic signs is important for every road user in order to maintain the safety and efficiency of our transportation facilities.

One idea is that reading is a visual memory process. The teaching method associated with this idea is known as "whole word." The whole word approach was perhaps best embodied in the "Dick and Jane" books that first appeared in the 1930s. The books rely on word repetition, and pictures to support the meaning of the text. The idea is that if you see words enough, you eventually store them in your memory as visual images.

Stanovich wanted to understand how people read words.12 He knew about Goodman's work and thought he was probably right that as people become better readers, they relied more on their knowledge of vocabulary and language structure to read words and didn't need to pay as much attention to the letters.

So, in 1975, Stanovich and a fellow graduate student set out to test the idea in their lab. They recruited readers of various ages and abilities and gave them a series of word-reading tasks. Their hypothesis was that skilled readers rely more on contextual cues to recognize words than poor readers, who probably weren't as good at using context.

There are videos online where you can see cueing in action. In one video posted on The Teaching Channel,17 a kindergarten teacher in Oakland, California, instructs her students to use "picture power" to identify the words on the page. The goal of the lesson, according to the teacher, is for the students to "use the picture and a first sound to determine an unknown word in their book."

Goldberg realized lots of her students couldn't actually read the words in their books; instead, they were memorizing sentence patterns and using the pictures to guess. One little boy exclaimed, "I can read this book with my eyes shut!"

Around the same time, Goldberg was trained in a program that uses a different strategy for teaching children how to read words. The program is called "Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics, and Sight Words," or SIPPS.24 It's a phonics program that teaches children how to sound out words and uses what are known as "decodable books." Most words in the books have spelling patterns that kids have been taught in their phonics lessons.

Eventually, many whole language supporters accepted the weight of the scientific evidence about the importance of phonics instruction. They started adding phonics to their books and materials and renamed their approach "balanced literacy."

Balanced literacy proponents will tell you their approach is a mix of phonics instruction with plenty of time for kids to read and enjoy books. But look carefully at the materials and you'll see that's not really what balanced literacy is mixing. Instead, it's mixing a bunch of different ideas about how kids learn to read. It's a little bit of whole word instruction with long lists of words for kids to memorize. It's a little bit of phonics. And fundamentally, it's the idea that children should be taught to read using the three-cueing system.

One part of the day was explicit phonics instruction.46 The students were divided into small groups based on their skill level. They met with their teacher, Andrea Ruiz, at a kidney-shaped table in a corner of the classroom. The lowest-level group worked on identifying the speech sounds in words lik


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