Letters to the Editor...
Learning to Read
The article that said you have to
teach how to read using phonics and not the
whole word method is missing the whole
point. Different children learn to read in
different ways. Most of learn to read in
an eclectic way. We need tp present
reading instruction n multiple formats so
that we meet the needs of all readers. To
do one in isolation is doing a disservice
to all types of learners.
The phonics method alone makes a joke
of sounding out words like "they" "said"
and many other words in our ecclectic
English language. Learning by the phonics
method only stunts reading progress.
No one method works best for
everything or everyone.
The best way to teach reading is to
teach multiple strategies and cues that
tell you quickly what strategy might work
best at that particular moment. Also
problem-solving skills are critical so
beginning readers (and good readers) can
quickly try another strategy when the one
they are trying does not work.
Even when whole language was the rage,
I personally do not believe that its
proponents EVER meant not to use phonics.
The old pendulum swings, and hopefully
we take from those swings what is effective
and what really works. For myself as a
teacher of reading, I tend to stay in the
middle and watch the swings and continue to
do what I know works. I use multiple
strategies. The best advice/program I have
seen in a long time is the 4-blocks method
and/or balanced literacy. I won't get into
the debate about whole-group or small-group
instruction because I think you need BOTH.
At least I need to use both. My large
group instruction is frequently the mini-
lesson or the lesson everyone needs or
needs to have reviewed. It is also an
opportunity for good readers to share
strategies that work for them. The whole
There is a lot more that could be
said, but suffice it to say that phonics
alone or whole-word method alone is not the
best strategy for the majority of readers.
One or the other MAY work best for a select
few, but I think even those few should be
exposed to many strategies and problem-
Ada Swanson, firstname.lastname@example.org,
This month's letters:
Learning to Read, 9/29/02, by Ada Swanson.
Adult ed, 9/23/02, by cw.
Reading Stats/Sonia, 9/12/02, by AP.
Editor, 9/12/02, by Florence Bothwell Cosby.
Why can't I post on the chatboard?, 9/11/02, by Charles Cingolani.
reading stats, 9/09/02, by sonia .
reading and writing chat board, 9/05/02, by Sue Gruber.