Phonics Exposed: Understanding and Resisting Systematic Direct Intense Phonics Instruction

Phonics Exposed: Understanding and Resisting Systematic Direct Intense Phonics Instruction

Phonics Exposed: Understanding and Resisting Systematic Direct Intense Phonics Instruction

Phonics Exposed: Understanding and Resisting Systematic Direct Intense Phonics Instruction

Synopsis

What are the implications of teaching phonics via a systematic direct intense program that mandates all children to experience the same scripted lesson at the same time? This book addresses the question through an in-depth play-by-play description of a phonics lesson as it occurred in a real classroom, followed by chapters that look at it from different angles by "zooming in" on one facet to analyze it closely: *Reading. What is reading? What definition of reading is presented (implicitly) in the phonics lesson? What do competing definitions from the reading research literature say about how important phonics rules are and how they are used by readers and teachers of reading? *Teacher knowledge. What is the role and the place of teacher knowledge as it relates to the lesson? What are the skills a teacher has and needs to use in a lesson that is completely scripted ? *The children. What are their roles and positions during the lesson? What are they learning? *Curriculum. Where does the phonics curriculum come from? Curriculum in general? Who does it serve and how? What is its purpose? * Culture. What is the role of culture in the lesson? How do cultural differences and culturally relevant pedagogy relate to the scripted phonics lesson? *Politics and ideology. Why and how is everything that happens in schools political? How are scripted lessons and resistance to them, forms of political action? *Teacher professionalism. How can teachers act in order to maintain academic freedom expressed as professional decision making in classrooms? The author of this book is not neutral. He presents the difficulties a teacher encounters in implementing mandated systematic, direct, intense phonics instruction and children who are confused and frustrated by it. But at the same time he constantly presents hope in the form of smart teachers, curious children, and possibilities for taking action that can lead to change. His direct, accessible writing style stimulates thought and discussion.

Excerpt

Once again the American public is faced with a phonics debate. Newspapers are filled with sensational headlines babbling about Reading Wars. The same statistics are used by some to prove that American children read well and by others to decry the low reading scores of American children in world comparisons. The answer to the mythology of reading problems is, for some at the present time, the explicit teaching of phonics: the “chicken soup” of reading instruction that will obviously solve the ills of illiteracy in society through commercially published programs. The superiority of phonics as the sole successful method to teach reading and the failure of all other methods raises its ugly head every 10 or 15 years. In my 50 years of experience in professional education, this is the fourth round. I remember in the 1950s the concern about why Johnny wasn't reading. The response was an attempt to make teachers give up successful integrated language curricula developed by teachers in which students learned to read and write as they explored social studies and science concepts. In the 1960s, I sat in inner-city classrooms in Detroit, Michigan, supervising student teachers who were teaching children to blend and “say it fast” for 2% hours a day. A decade later in Tucson, Arizona, I observed student teachers preparing as many as nine ditto sheets that had to be completed before 11:00 a.m. by two groups of children working silently as a third group worked with the teacher on work attack and recognition skills. And then after hundreds of thousands of children suffered through boring reading programs, endless worksheets focused on abstract units of language, and numerous ends of level tests, the same groups of children were still not succeeding on standardized tests designed with a one-size-fits-all mental-

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