Summer Stacking : A Crash Course
June 10, 2021
If you are like me, you have had a rocky road with personal reading this year. It’s been up and down, hard to finish some books, difficult to find time to read, more difficult to concentrate when I do. But summer has always been my time to soak up book after book after book. Pleasure books, recommend books, a pile of books for a summer study, any random book someone recommends. Summer Reading. I’ve loved it since childhood, binge reading series after series or an author’s body of work.
This summer, I’m taking on a learning project, one that I’ve been beginning for months now. A all-out crash course in the science of reading. Perhaps you’ve already dipped into this yourself, listened to some podcast, attended some workshops, followed some social media, watched a few videos. If so, please feel free to help steer me in the direction of learning, of being open to possibilities, to helping more students be proficient readers.
Here is my summer stack in reading science.
Shifting the Balance by Jan Burkins and Kari Yates, available from Stenhouse is definitely a book for those who consider themselves to be workshop or balanced literacy teachers. It’s light on the criticism of either side and takes a measured approach to change. The chapters are organized by potential shifts. Heavily supported by suggested ‘tries’ and a website of resources, this is a wonderful first step for any teachers who are wondering about acquisition of reading, spelling, and sight word skills for strugglers and others.
Wiley Blevins has written many books about using phonemic awareness, decodable books and phonics. One older book (2017), I recommend is A Fresh Look at Phonics (Corwin). What I like best about his style of writing is that he has activities or try-its that you could easily do tomorrow along with a section I really think is genius called Best Practices and Look-Fors for Success. Easy to read with a balance of theory, practice, and routines, this will be a great read to freshen your practice or add some deeper phonemic awareness techniques. Another book to check out, also by Blevins, is Choosing and Using Decodable Texts.
Equipped for Reading Success by David Kilpatrick is a how-to book for phonemic awareness activities heavily laced with brain theory. Chocked full of activities developmentally crafted to promote phonemic awareness, this book would be a great read-along for a team of teachers who want to build up activities to use in small group work or whole class explorations. The first few chapters are not an easy read, but do freshen up your thinking about brain research and learning to read.
Along with these adult reads, you might try a fresh look at decodable texts. There are many more on the market these days that feel like they would be the right book in the hands of many beginning readers.
While they are still available online for all, you might check out Flyleaf Publishing Decodable books. These fresh books made me rethink what I had previously believed about decodable readers.
Another series I am liking now is Little Blossom Stories . These engaging book use a combination of sight words (high frequency words) and decodable words with graduating vowel patterns to tell stories that will seem real to young readers. I like the sentence structure and playful nature of these books along with the diverse representation of people.
Finally, a book for the deepest dive possible into the patterns in words. This book is invaluable if you want to create course in phonics for your students. While not new, I learned so much about phonic patterns that I thought I knew, but definitely did not. the ABC’s and All Their Tricks was recommended to me and I can’t wait to dig in and find out everything I didn’t know about vowels.
Here is a quick peek into my summer deep dive, a small representation of a close study in teaching phonemic awareness and beginning decoding skills with a ‘balanced’ approach using some brain science to strengthen student success. I am looking forward to working through some early reading techniques to freshen up my practice and coaching.