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Volume 3 Number 3

Harry & Rosemary Wong ask, "Is it possible that a school district would have no openings at a time of worldwide teacher shortages? But more importantly, why were there no openings in the Medford School District?"...
Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong
Promoting Learning by Marv Marshall
4 Blocks by Cheryl Sigmon
Ask the School Psychologist by Beth Bruno
Online Classrooms by Leslie Bowman
The Eclectic Teacher by Ginny Hoover
The Busy Educator's Monthly Five (5 Sites for Busy Educators) by Marjan Glavac
Around the Block by Cheryl Ristow
Ask the Literacy Teacher by Leigh Hall
Instant Ideas for Busy Teachers by Barbara Gruber and Sue Gruber
Every Day is Read Across America Day!
Music is...
Ten Pennies and Ten Dimes
Swinging on the Education Pendulum
Literature Circles
Internet Based Interaction in the Classroom
How to Create A Bad Acceptable Use Policy Document (And Have It Survive)!
Safety on College Campuses
The Montessori Mystery
Playing Baseball in the Classroom - A Flexible, Adaptable Game to Motivate Your Students
Whither Not Social Studies!
When Bright Kids Say, "I'm Bored!"
Book Review: Comprehension Instruction
Teacher Social Groups
Retaining Principals
Today I Learned
Things You NEVER Thought You'd Have to Say…or Hear
What Was Your Most Unforgettable Show and Tell?
How Do You Deal With Middle School Students' Apathy?
Why Reading Scores Across the Nation Have Declined
Apple Seeds
Special Days This Month
Poem - Searching for the Gold
The Lighter Side of Teaching
  • YENDOR'S Top Ten
  • A Challenging Foot Feat
  • Schoolies
  • Woodhead
  • Handy Teacher Recipes
    Classroom Crafts
    Help Wanted - Teaching Jobs
    Featured Lesson from the Lesson Bank
  • Here Comes the Train
  • Upcoming Ed Conferences
    Letters to the Editor
    Chatboard Poll, What changes has your district made in an effort to raise test scores?
    Action Against Hunger Project
    Explore Costa Rica's Monteverde Cloud Forest
    Third Annual Music Education Survey Gets Underway
    Gazette Home Delivery:

    About Stewart E Brekke...
    Stewart E Brekke is retired from his position as a physics and chemistry teacher in the Chicago Public Schools. He taught for just over 23 years with the Chicago district and just over 1 year with approximately 20 surrounding suburban districts, full time and substituting.

    Stewart holds three degrees: An MS in Ed from Purdue, an MA in Humanities from Wayne State University, and a BA from the University of Illinois. His interest in Physics and Chemistry teaching centers around teaching to minority students the standard mathematical Physics and Chemistry course taught most often to the best students, and not often presented to students perceived as "at risk."


    Why Reading Scores Across the Nation Have Declined

    by Stewart E Brekke

    We have lost a nation of readers due to the extensive use of the whole word method in the teaching of reading. We need intensive use of the phonics method of reading in teaching all kinds of students. Despite the repeated citations of many studies by professors who have never dealt with individual students in elementary and high school and who strongly advocate the whole word method of teaching reading, many students cannot recognize all kinds of common words visually and therefore have difficulty reading. I have dealt with a large number of students on an individual basis from the Chicago Public Schools, the Catholic schools, of different races , Black, Hispanic and Caucasian, and from my experience it is clear that many young students cannot read well because they cannot sound out words they do not immediately recognize visually or totally new words. It is my opinion that the poor reading scores of today's young people of many different backgrounds is due to the lack of teaching the tried and true method of phonics.

    To teach the phonics method of reading in the classes is more involved and requires more effort than the teaching of the whole word method and is not therefore used as much as it should be. The phonics method of reading requires repeated drill and practice in the classroom especially in the early grades and the use of drills and practices is not in vogue particularly in the universities today. If a poll was taken today of CEO's of corporations, successful lawyers, doctors and managers, I am certain that all of these successful individuals have learned to read through the phonics method. Also, a great industry has grown up selling videos and educational materials to teach young students reading through phonics. These young students have never learned to read properly and therefore have had poor academic performance. Often, by using these commercial phonics products successful reading results and grades and individual test scores improve.

    To improve reading scores in all grades in all kinds of schools, private and public, Black, White and Hispanic, I would require intensive use of the time tested and proven phonics method especially in the early grades, but also at all levels in the schools. Implementing the phonics method of reading will not only improve reading scores, but learning and test scores of all kinds because it is the only real way to teach reading. Further, the phonics method is inexpensive and could save school districts millions since requires minimal extra materials, and just the teacher and students.

    Further, when students can read, they like to learn because they feel successful with the class material. When students cannot read well they feel they are inadequate and do not like school and learning, and then become truant and discipline problems. I have seen a slow learner in general science read better than even an honors physics student because the slow student learned phonics and the honors student did not. Reading excellence is not dependent on IQ as I have found. Slow learners can read well provided the area of the brain which deals with reading is not damaged or affected by retardation factors. I have also seen learning disabled students have academic problems, not because they are learning disabled, but simply because they have not learned the phonics method of reading. Often, many schools I have been in require reading periods just to improve the reading capability of the students. This is an error and possibly a waste of time and effort. We do not need more set aside reading periods, we need periods in which reading poor students learn to read through teaching them phonics.

    Therefore, good careers can be generated for our young people if they can read well which can only be done by using the phonics method of reading especially in the early grades.

    I offer this insight from the daily classroom experience I have had for over twenty years of teaching physics, chemistry and various sciences in the high schools of the Chicago Public Schools.

    Stewart E Brekke, MS in Ed, MA
    (Chicago Public Schools--retired)

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