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Readin’ and writin’

New York Teacher

In response to the Learning Curve column “Aiming for ‘Universal’ success in reading” [Dec. 1], I agree coaches are very valuable; yet in addition, let’s get “real” RTI and academic intervention specialists working directly with students. I am a reading recovery provider and I know I am getting students to read. Savvy principals know how valuable such a program is and have two or sometimes three providers working directly with the students. The bottom line is we need people working directly with those kids because too many kids are slipping through the cracks.

Bronx teacher who wishes to remain anonymous
(via Facebook)

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Sounds great, but the literacy coach should really be focused on phonics and foundational decoding skills in the early grades, not just reading comprehension. That was not addressed at all in the article even though all the current research shows that’s where the need is. I hope the DOE chooses literacy coaches who are knowledgeable in actually training teachers on the methods necessary to achieve fluency in decoding.

Sara Blitman, IS 53, Far Rockaway
(via Facebook)

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Why can’t teachers go back to the basics in teaching English language arts?

I taught grades K–2 for more than 20 years. My school was located in the heart of Coney Island, Brooklyn. It was there I got involved in a pilot program integrating general education and special education students in one class. How very successful it was!

The staff included two classroom teachers and two paraprofessionals. We worked together every day to address all our students’ needs. Each day was always a new challenge and brought smiles to all our faces.

What happened to the whole language approach, which included book making, phonics and good old reading with textbooks and companion workbooks? All the tools for the trade should be available so each child has a complete and happy education.

One big highlight of the school day was working on our own books. Every child became an author and looked forward to sharing stories with classmates, teachers and family. All of our self-made books were kept in a bookcase in the back of the classroom.

This was known back then as the whole language approach, including listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Children, parents and teachers are so worried now about Common Core testing that they cannot focus on just good old learning.

School should be a happy experience for the students, staff and parents. Reading, comprehension strategies, writing and utilizing vocabulary at an early age can only enhance a student’s confidence and lead to their future success.

Rochelle Berfond, retired

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