Teachers are attempting to transform literacy pedagogy, which often relies on intimate, in-person interaction between teachers and students, into a strategy that can work via videoconferencing which is a task that’s often compounded by unreliable internet access or a shortage of books that can be mailed home.
Reading is best learnt at a young age, when the developing mind is most receptive to language, hence a major delay in reading fluency development may be irreversible. Early learning experiences are associated with later school success, fewer grade retention, emotional and social well-being, and lower rates of juvenile misbehavior, according to studies, all of which have an impact on adult productivity.
Children who do not learn phonics are more likely to struggle with reading. That’s why phonics training should be explicit and methodical, according to researchers: Students must be guided through a certain sequence of letters and sounds by their teachers. Kids who learn to decipher words can then apply what they’ve learned. Eventually, they ‘’’ll be able to read with fluency as they progress to increasingly difficult words. While some children may not require much assistance with phonics as they become older, experts suggest that phonics training is critical for young children and struggling readers. But, according to Shanahan, educating children to read should contain more than phonics. They should also be taught how to read aloud, comprehend what they read, and write.
INTO UNKNOWN WATERS
Decoding techniques such as phonics, text-based instruction, choice reading, interactive read-alouds, personalized feedback, and multi-sensory approaches such as tracing letters or reading manipulatives such as sight word games or sentence building cards are used by many teachers.
However, in the midst of the crisis, even seasoned instructors find themselves in unknown territory. They’re left to improvise with untested digital tools, many of which were supposed to be auxiliary rather than crucial to teaching reading, because they don’t have daily access to their kids in the classroom.
Some technologies even take away some of the most difficult aspects of learning to read by performing the thinking for them. “Part of learning to read is going through difficulties,” Heather Schugar, a literacy professor at West Chester University, told Education Week.
The effort to learn to read in a remote learning context might be compounded for teachers with students who have dyslexia or other reading issues. The Orton-Gillingham Approach, for example, uses a multimodal approach to teaching phonics, but it might be difficult to employ the auditory, visual, and tactile-kinesthetic techniques without in-person assistance from an attentive instructor.
A LENS BASED ON STRENGTH
The largest challenge, according to Nell Duke, a professor of Literacy, Language, and Culture at the University of Michigan, is asynchronous time, notably the lack of a “direct teaching presence.” Worksheets, instructions, books, and videos are insufficient to substitute in-person teacher mediation, in which a teacher modifies or coaches students in real time. “Without direct touch and connection, we really don’t know how to move the needle mulch for children in early reading,” she adds.
Duke, on the other hand, feels that videoconferencing can be used to deliver synchronous instruction. “You can still teach phonics through videoconference.” You may still listen to kids read and use the knowledge to create future lessons. You still have time to improve your phonological awareness. You can continue to read to them aloud”, she adds.
Literacy specialist suggests using polling capabilities in learning management systems to keep the interaction that is so crucial in literacy education alive, while another teacher describes how she utilizes Flipgrid for interactive read-alouds.
The key for instructors, according to Duke, is to change their perspective. “The secret to successful remote teaching is to avoid a deficit mindset. Constantly focusing on what these distant educational situations can’t accomplish is probably not healthy, and it’s certainly not constructive.”
GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND TRADITIONAL BOOKS
It’s also critical, according to Duke, for instructors to let go of preconceived preconceptions about what a text is “There is a huge book bias in education,” she argues. When it’s difficult to get books into the homes and hands of children, let alone the identical book into the hands of every child in a class, you have to broaden your thinking.
She claims that online periodicals and web sites may be used as text, and that youngsters can create and read each other’s texts, or that instructors can write their own. Alternatives include TextProject, which provides high-quality, open-access student textbooks as well as teaching manuals.
Teachers should remember that what matters most is engagement, and that the value of read-alouds, in particular, rests in the interaction around the book—conversation, discussion, and idea trading—rather than the book itself.
REMOVE THE BENCHMARKS FROM THE FIXATION
In terms of the broader picture, Duke warns against focusing solely on benchmarking in the face of distant learning, especially when such standards are fake in certain aspects. “Some mix of community people and state instructors come together with a lot of test items and decide what proportion of those test things kids should get right at that age,” she adds. “It would be absolutely reasonable for our society to determine [during COVID-19] that we have a new set of criteria, [and] that we’re going to focus on pushing every kid ahead, but not on bringing every kid to the socially created benchmark that we agreed on.”
The development of subject knowledge, which is linked to a child’s long-term reading performance, is also critical. Educators should keep in mind that, as disruptive as this period of history is, it may provide significant insights into early literacy development and teaching. “We’ve been utilizing technology for the sake of using it, without really having a clear strategy for ‘why,'” said Schugar of West Chester University to Education Week. Now is the time to consider how we might make the most of those really strong instruments.”
What are the finest online reading programmes for improving comprehension?
PRODIGY(free)- is a wonderful tool to encourage youngsters to improve their language abilities in a fun, engaging setting.
STARFALL(selected stuff for free)- is also beneficial for children who have reading difficulties, such as dyslexia. It’s untimed and stress-free, with plenty of positive reinforcement to help youngsters gain confidence in their reading abilities.
EPIC(The basic membership comes with one free book every day. Unlimited options are available for $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year)- This online tool suggests books for your child depending on his or her reading ability and interests. It includes a collection of “read to me” books as well as an easy-to-use dictionary to assist them improve their language abilities. As they earn badges for their accomplishments, your kid will be inspired to keep reading!
READWORKS(free)- ReadWorks has a tool called StepReads that can help. This gives the same information as the original text, but in a more straightforward manner. ReadWorks teaches the same information (including vocabulary terms) regardless of your child’s reading ability, rather than “dumbing down” the topic.
STORYPLACE(free)- StoryPlace allows you to replicate the library story time experience to your own home. This reading website for pre-kindergarteners blends tales with movement, games, and music.The movies that go along with each book are bright and vibrant, and each tale comes with a clever hands-on activity. If you have little children, have a peek at this free resource.