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Teaching and learning about reading

Literacy is the foundation for so much of what we teach in school, but teaching children to become proficient readers and writers is a complex task. It’s no wonder that the AFT has proclaimed, "Teaching reading is rocket science!"

In New York State, the Next Generation Learning Standards (NGLS) address both strong code-based and meaning-related skills. To help all students become successful readers and writers, educators at multiple grade levels and content areas should be knowledgeable in:

  • phonemic awareness (the ability to hear, identify and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words)
  • phonics (the relationship between letters and sounds)
  • fluency (recognizing words in a text rapidly and accurately and reading aloud with speed, accuracy and proper expression)
  • vocabulary (including language structure) (note: syntax, which is included under the umbrella of academic vocabulary, is crucial but usually overlooked. It's incorporated into the Next Generation Learning Standards and the accompanying advanced literacy briefs)
  • comprehension
  • writing

Development of these skills requires explicit, intensive instruction within a comprehensive curriculum that engages all students. At the same time, educators may have experienced inconsistent pre- and in-service professional learning in teaching reading and literacy.

If you teach at the elementary level, your school must use literacy curricula which include the above components. If you need professional learning, your school should provide that as well. There are tools available to you and your chapter if you believe that either of these are not in place.

No matter your background, current role or setting, here are resources to support you.

Here's where to start