Don’t Stop Believin’

Recently people on the Internet have asked whether I “believe in the science of reading”.   Funnily, I’ve never been asked this before. I’ve devoted my professional career to using scientific methods to investigate reading, language, learning, and other questions. I made a conscious decision to use this approach to address questions that interest me. I … More Don’t Stop Believin’

The “science of reading” is a work in progress

In the past month I’ve given two talks that are the beginning of a concerted attempt to address some issues about connecting reading research and educational practice to improve literacy outcomes. Connecting research and educational practice is essential. The ongoing effort to make this happen (which I’ve called the “science of reading movement”) is a … More The “science of reading” is a work in progress

Sondheim on reading

Well, not exactly. But he did say something that captures an important element of  learning to read. Terry Gross of Fresh Air is running three shows in remembrance of Mr. Sondheim. In a 2010 interview, Terry asked him a hoary question: which comes first, the music or the lyrics? His answer yielded a small gem. … More Sondheim on reading

Running starts in reading

My post about the Fountas and Pinnell (F&P) curriculum takes issue with their emphasis on “word solving,” the use of a variety of strategies to figure words out. I mentioned “get a running start,” taking it as representative of strategies that are inefficient and unreliable. Re-reading the post I wondered whether “get a running start” … More Running starts in reading

Some context on context

Let’s talk about ”background knowledge.” The term refers to things a child knows about the world–about people, events, and situations; categories such as animals and clothing; topics such as animal habitats and how plants grow. These are things we use language to talk and write about. This knowledge provides the “background” or context for understanding a text.
Unsurprisingly, there are differing views about the role of background knowledge in early reading. … More Some context on context

Lost in Translation?

We (Mark, Matt Cooper Borkenhagen, and Devin Kearns) have a new paper about the science of reading and education, to be published in an issue of the journal Reading Research Quarterly (RRQ) devoted to this topic. The title is “Lost in Translation? Challenges in Connecting Reading Science and Educational Practice”.

Some of you will want to read the paper. It isn’t very technical but it is nonetheless written mainly for the people who read articles in RRQ. With that in mind, we (my colleague Molly Farry Thorn and I) will be breaking down the major topics in a series of blog posts here. We are also going to cover some important issues that didn’t make it into the paper, e.g., efforts to seek legislative remedies for low literacy.

What’s this new paper about? Here’s the abstract … More Lost in Translation?

This is why we don’t have better readers: Response to Lucy Calkins

Lucy Calkins has written a manifesto entitled “No One Gets To Own The Term ‘Science Of Reading’”. I am a scientist who studies reading. Her document is not about the science that I know; it is about Lucy Calkins. Dr. Calkins is a prolific pedagogical entrepreneur who has published numerous curricula and supporting materials for teaching reading and writing to children. She is among the most successful, influential reading educators in this country. According to an EdWeek survey published this week, hers is among the 5 most commonly used reading curricula in the country.

The purpose of the document is to protect her brand, her market share, and her standing among her many followers. Dr. Calkins is not interested in examining the educational implications of reading science. She is interested in co-opting the term so that the science cannot be used to discredit her products … More This is why we don’t have better readers: Response to Lucy Calkins

The plural of “anecdote” is …

Every scientist has heard the adage, The plural of anecdote is not “data”. Anecdotes have scientific value—they can reveal new phenomena before they’ve been systematically studied—but they’re not facts.  They are nonetheless often treated as such, especially if several seem to make a consistent point.* Twitterer Sara Pikelet wittily observed that anecdotes are “small batch … More The plural of “anecdote” is …