Professional Article Analysis: Reading and the Brain

In the article, Reading and the Brain: What Early Childhood Educators Need to Know, authors Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher share neuroscience research that is applicable for educators. The authors analyzed the research and provided five topics of understanding: every brain needs to be taught to read, learning the written language physically alters the brain, repetition leads to automaticity, visual information is important to the learning process, and the role of imitation in learning. Within each of the five understandings they have additionally provided practical guidelines for teachers to use within their classrooms.

I learned a plethora of information on how the brain works, how it does not work, and how to make this knowledge work in my benefit as a teacher of reading. First, thousands of spoken languages have existed through the course of human history; causing the brain to be wired to speak and listen. Second, the brain has not been hard wired to the written language; as this has only been around for 6,000 years or so. So, when born we are ready for sound but we must be taught to understand print. Last but not least, through early experiences with print, intentional instruction towards phonological awareness, being read to, etc the brain can be altered toward the ability of the written language and the student will become a reader.

This article provided a few takeaways for my future teaching practice:

  1. More reading produces a better automaticity. Providing many opportunities in reading, creates pathways that fire consistently so that the readers working memory can focus on comprehension instead of the act of reading.
  1. Provide strategies to assist the reading path to reach automaticity for those struggling readers. Note: All readers at one time will be struggling as they are building toward an increase of text complexity.
  1. Use Readers Theater as a way to use reading repetition without losing the student’s motivation in reading; they are focused on performing their script well for the audience!
  1. Provide visuals in reading activities to increase learning process.
  1. Intentionally teaching through modeling, demonstration, and thinking aloud. Students learn while teachers think through information out loud and modeling reading strategies to assist them to navigate through difficult texts.

Read anything good lately? Please share with me in the comments below.

Professional Article Analysis: Teaching Reading is Rocket Science

 The article, Teaching Reading is Rocket Science: What Expert Teachers of Reading Should Know and Be Able To Do, provides us with well researched information regarding the importance of teaching reading, where we are in regards to our teaching programs, what we should be teaching within these programs, and how we obtain these goals within teaching programs and professional development. The author, Louisa Moats, states within the opening sentence, "Reading is the fundamental skill upon which all formal education depends" (p. 7). Highlighting the importance of teaching reading and why this research is in high regards for both preservice and service teachers, if they are to be successful toward teaching their students to read. Although some students will learn to read no matter what teaching they receive, most students need teaching instruction that is explicit and systematic.
     Before reading this article, I was unaware of the lack of education toward reading, writing, and language within the teacher preparation programs. I was surprised to see that even in 1999 we were still seeking scientific research in reading acquisition. According to Moats, it was at this time that reading scientists and educators were finally able to agree on what needs to be done to assist with the needs of our students in regards to learning how to read. 
     In addition, I was unaware of the following effective reading instruction component, "Frequent writing of prose enables deeper understanding of what is read" (p. 8). I am interested in learning more about this component and how is that I can practice this skill within the classroom to assist readers. 
his resource provided me with a list of practices that I should look at in reading instruction. Especially with my middle school aged students who are still having difficulties with reading. Reading interventions and reading instruction continues after the third grade. Comprehension strategies, vocabulary instruction, prose writing, reading a variety of texts, written English instruction, and providing lessons on basic word structures (p. 10) are activities that should continue within the middle school and high school education. 
     In addition, I felt as though this article provided a call to action for educators to make a difference toward the instruction of reading in the following ways: seek out new research in reading instruction and incorporate them into practice, promote and partake in high quality professional development ensuring continuing education with best practices for the classroom, and get involved within the master teacher programs offered at the state and national level. 

Read anything good lately? Please share with me in the comments below.