Month: December 2015

Reflections on Journeys

It’s been a year of two kinds of journeys. For students, the journey is one through seemingly impassable obstacles to a new vantage point, a journey of not just discovery but also self-discovery. This series of posts traces that journey from resistance through to engagement and through metamorphosis to independence. Can’t Read, Won’t Read – the Matthew Effect. How a history of reading failure compounds to make it more difficult to engage students. Can’t Read, Won’t Read – No Escape. The temptation to avoid reading help after years of failure is entirely natural, but must be overcome if students are to succeed. Can’t Read, Won’t Read – Metamorphosis. Startling transformations can occur in many facets of students’ lives when they experience success in reading. Can’t Read, Won’t Read – Learning to Fly. With careful planning, it is possible for students to move from intensive support to the pleasure and power of independent reading. Success, Failure and Self-Concept examines the dynamics of this journey from the perspective of reversing the negative cycle created by reading failure. …

Reflections on the Hard Road to Success

As part of this year’s time of reflection, I have been considering my own sense of urgency in communicating to educators not only the enormous scale of the problem, but also that solutions to the problem already exist. While most people are willing to accept the former, misconceptions about reading, intelligence and learning abound in education – often making it difficult to accept the idea that illiteracy is a solvable issue. 7 Misconceptions About Teaching Adolescents to Read. This post addresses seven key misconceptions that act as barriers to effective action. It is surprising and alarming how pervasive these ideas are. The post can be downloaded as a PDF. Pulling the Strands Together shows how the research on effective reading instruction – including effective remedial reading instruction for adolescents – can be applied to school practices. The problem has in fact been solved – it is up to us to be committed enough to apply the solutions. Code-Teaching or Code-Breaking? is, by some way, the most read post on this site. It sets out the two …

Reflections on Hidden Potential

One of the themes I have been reflecting on is the great tragedy of modern education: the wasted potential of literally millions of students who underachieve because they were not taught to read properly. There are two main reasons for this: poor reading strategies in early reading, and artificial ceilings caused by low expectations derived from low reading performance – in short, labels. The natural home for reading interventions (and it’s not SEN) challenges this practice of assigning students a disability label based on how well they are reading. The evidence is that when taught explicitly and systematically (and when faulty ‘guessing’ strategies have been addressed) nearly all but a handful of students can read at the ‘normal’ level for their age. Without doubt, this post generated the strongest reactions from readers. “You will always have students who will fail” deals with low expectations based on poor behaviour. By making use of basic principles, more specialised strategies, and effective whole school systems, it is possible to turn students around. And when we consider that poor …

Reflections on Challenge

As the year draws towards its end, it is natural to look back and reflect, and to take stock. Sometimes we see things in that broad overview from a fresh perspective. I’ve now been blogging for two years, and I can see that one of the themes I have come back to repeatedly is the challenge for secondary schools to meet their responsibilities to help students who struggle with reading. I don’t just mean doing something – I mean doing something that is demonstrably effective. In Schools Character and Justice, I reflected on the character debate in education and how our character is displayed in our actions – specifically, the actions we take (or don’t take) to support our most vulnerable students. Te Wero – The Challenge shows that “with a systematic approach, it is possible to virtually eliminate all reading problems in around three years” and so poses the question to school leaders: if you have effective solutions to hand for these students, why wouldn’t you act? These checklists were written to help schools …