Do you find yourself wondering whether the Science of Reading works for your learner? Not sure what all it entails? Wondering how phonics fits into the mix?
At Fit Learning, we look to the science to ensure our instructional techniques are as effective and efficient as possible. We combine that with a fun and fast-paced approach to engage and motivate learners. Here’s a quick rundown on how Fit Learning uses the Science of Reading to achieve incredible results.
What is the Science of Learning?
Johns Hopkins Learning Institute defines Science of Learning (SOL) as “an approach that recognizes the value and importance of cross-fertilization across traditional fields of study, drawing on many different methods and techniques to understand how learning occurs— with the ultimate goal of optimizing learning for all.” SOL also helps debunk long-held myths, addressing teaching and learning-related practices that aren’t actually supported by evidence. Above all, SOL is about discovering, through research, which learning methods are most effective.
How does the Science of Reading relate to SOL?
The first thing to remember is that the Science of Reading (SOR) encompasses a body of evidence. It explores how people learn to read and how best to teach reading. Like SOL, SOR is vast and draws upon research from areas such as educational theory, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and linguistics. So, what does the research tell us? SOR doesn’t embody a single specific technique for reading instruction. However, there is compelling evidence supporting the following concepts.
- Teaching phonological awareness, or learning how oral language can be broken into smaller parts
- Teaching phonemic awareness, or learning sound-spelling relationships
- Training on phonics, or learning how to associate written letters with their individual sounds (also called phonemes)
- Working toward fluency: When the learner can read quickly and accurately enough to be able to absorb and comprehend what they’re reading, rather than spending their time and effort trying to decode words.
- Using explicit and systematic instruction:
- Explicit instruction refers to a teaching method where the instructor gives clear learning goals, generally with direct explanations of skills. Learners then receive many opportunities to practice the skills.
- Systematic instruction involves teaching a skill in a carefully developed sequence, similar to how a builder would construct a house. So, Fit learners learn and master basic skills before moving on to more advanced topics.
What do the studies show?
Numerous studies have shown that the use of these methods is highly effective at teaching children to read. The benefits are long-term and extend well beyond students’ current stage of learning, providing valuable skills for years to come. The research shows SOR to be effective for all types of learners, including those with average ability, those with learning disabilities, and those who may be at risk for future delays. Finally, SOR has been proven to improve learners’ spelling and reading comprehension — that is, alongside the learners’ basic reading skills.
Dr. Sally Shaywitz, Yale professor and author of Overcoming Dyslexia, addresses the criticality of phonologic/phonemic awareness, as well as phonics, on developing reading skills. She writes,
“Language is a code, and the only code that can be recognized by the language system and activate its machinery is the phonologic code … The phonologic model tells us the exact steps that must be taken if a child is to go from the puzzlement of seeing letters as abstract squiggly shapes to the satisfaction of recognizing and identifying these letter groups as words.”
As relates to explicit and systematic instruction, scientists Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool examine the power of “purposeful (or deliberate) practice” in developing cognitive adaptability and accomplishing goals. In Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, they write that purposeful practice requires one to: “Get outside your comfort zone but do it in a focused way, with clear goals, a plan for reaching those goals, and a way to monitor your progress. Oh, and figure out a way to maintain your motivation.”
SOR and Fit’s reading program are a perfect “fit.”
Fit Reading places a strong emphasis on phonological/phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency, along with covering oral and silent reading, comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary. Additionally, Fit’s method uses explicit and systematic instruction to help learners train to fluency. These are just a few examples of how Fit Learning’s practices are supported by the most compelling evidence. We could go on and on, but you get the idea …
It doesn’t just end there, though. The team at Fit stays current on the latest research. This ensures their methods reflect what the evidence reveals is most effective, leading to the best possible outcomes.
Fit’s reading instruction differs from other reading tutors and methods. In particular, its program is crafted to make learning targeted, efficient, and fun. The process kicks off with a comprehensive assessment to identify the learner’s current level of fluency in core “building block” reading skills. The Fit team uses those results to develop the learner’s individual curriculum. Then, measurements are conducted continuously to track the student’s progress toward skill proficiency. Along the way, Fit’s learning coaches use their behavioral expertise to reinforce the learner’s success as well as build confidence. This makes the overall journey to mastery an enjoyable one. After all, reading should be fun!
Learning science also serves as the basis for Fit’s programs in other subject areas.
Fit’s other areas of instruction include math, expressive writing, logic, spelling, and penmanship. We also use learning science in our Lil Fits and Fit Homeschool curricula. The instruction in these areas, as with Fit Reading, centers around establishing fluency and doing it using explicit and systematic instruction. We utilize 1:1 sessions and customized learning plans in all of our service areas. Fit’s learning coaches use various strategies to engage and motivate students for optimal learning and retention.
Simply put, Fit Learning’s research-backed methods are combined with a fun, upbeat approach to instruction. Getting serious results.
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