Literacy Talks

A Little Bit of Myth Busting: The Pet Peeves of Reading Experts

March 16, 2022 Reading Horizons Season 1 Episode 3
Literacy Talks
A Little Bit of Myth Busting: The Pet Peeves of Reading Experts
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Literacy Talks, our three literacy experts share some of their reading instruction pet peeves. From humorous to heartwarming, you’ll hear why English is not a complicated language (it's complex), why reading instruction can’t and shouldn’t end at third grade, the problem with limiting students to books only at their Lexile level…and more. It’s a fast-paced, fascinating look at rethinking and relearning what we thought we knew about teaching reading.

Here are the six pet peeves shared by Stacy, Donell, and Lindsay:

  1. When people refer to English as a crazy language
  2. When people think that IQ and reading are related
  3. When we tell children they can only read books at their Lexile level
  4. Not learning what we needed to learn about the science of reading when we were in college
  5. The resistance to getting rid of the 3 cueing strategy
  6. When people think that reading instruction ends at third grade
Narrator:

Hello literacy leaders and champions. Welcome to literacy talks. We are so excited to welcome you to this podcast series from Reading Horizons dedicated to exploring the ideas, trends, insights and practical issues that will help us all improve our professional practice in teaching reading. Our series host is Stacy Hurst, professor at Southern Utah University and Chief Academic Officer at Reading Horizons we're reading momentum begins. Joining Stacy are Donell Pons, a recognized expert in literacy and special education. And Lindsay Kemeny, a Utah based elementary classroom teacher. Today's topic is literacy pet peeves, and Lindsay Kemeny will start our conversation today.

Lindsay Kemeny:

Okay, I'm excited to introduce our topic. So you guys know Tim Shanahan, he is a well known figure in the literacy community, and he regularly posts articles on his blog. He's very knowledgeable about research and reading. And he's also known for saying things that are a bit controversial. He recently posted this article entitled, do you have any pet peeves about reading? And I thought that would be a great, fun topic for our podcast today. So I want to throw the question out to you guys, do you have any pet peeves about reading? They see, let's start with you. What is one of your pet peeves?

Stacy Hurst:

So choosing just one would be tough, but I'm gonna say that I don't love it when people say that English is crazy. And I don't love that for a lot of reasons. But a big one is that I think most of us know more. Now we know better, that there really are a lot of patterns and consistencies in our language, whether it's spoken or written, even considering all the changes that maybe have happened over time. But my biggest reason for having that as a pet peeve is because of the students who struggle. I think it's hard enough and to hear a teacher say, or somebody who should know better say English is just crazy. That really is kind of defeating, I think, and I think we all know better. Now, we all know better. Yeah, that's all.

Lindsay Kemeny:

So can you think of an example, Stacy of something where like, tell us something that, you know, maybe most people might think, see, that's an example of how English is crazy. But how there is actually reasoning behind that. I think

Stacy Hurst:

of the word love, for example, or even have, well, let's go with love because it's a little more complex. And it looks like it might be pronounced llove. If we look at it, the spelling, but if we know two things, if we know that English words can't end in v. And we also know something that happened in the history of writing, which is the scribal Oh, then that word would make more sense. So if there if something seems to be an exception, there's usually an explanation. Yeah,

Lindsay Kemeny:

I love that. And I love bringing those things to the awareness of my students. For example, when we are practicing how to spell the word one, like the number one, we can map that and that's a tricky one to map because the O is representing both the N A, and then the n is represented by the N E. So we're gonna go through kind of how we talked about how we introduce those high frequency words, but then I'm going to talk about look at the word loan, lonely, alone. And we're gonna talk about the meaning. And they just think that's so cool. We're all word nerds. And we love that kind of stuff. But it's so fun to show them. Yeah.

Stacy Hurst:

Do you know, when I introduced the open syllable to my college students, I did this the other day. And I had the question. Well, what about the word to to and what about do and when I was able to explain those there, their minds were blown.

Lindsay Kemeny:

Okay, so, so explain them to Stacy.

Stacy Hurst:

Well, those are the scribal Oh, explanations. They used to be spelled t u and T. T. O used to be spelled to you, which makes sense.

Lindsay Kemeny:

I don't know if all our listeners will know what that means. The scribal Oh,

Stacy Hurst:

so a long time ago, way, before the printing press, the way that we replicated print was to have scribes literally copy. And I don't know about you guys if you've ever had the opportunity, but I have because in my middle school, if you chewed gum, the consequence was you had to copy pages out of the dictionary and I chose to chew gum and pay the price. I think my vocabulary increased, but I also had a really pained hand. Because copying is really hard after a while it's hard on you, and the scribes would write in a cursive format. So anytime there was a you followed by a letter that they just wanted to keep going with it was just easier to kind of turn into an O, and keep going. And so that kind of stuck with some of our spelling conventions. That's an example of one.

Lindsay Kemeny:

Awesome, thanks for sharing that. Okay, I'm gonna turn it over to Darnell, what's one of your reading pet peeves

Donell Pons:

I'm going to have to lead with because it still really bothers me. And I hear it a lot. And it comes in different forms. But it's the idea that I Q and reading are related. In other words, it's a mark of a high IQ, if you read well, and if you don't read well, it's the mark of a low IQ. And it starts when when children are young, he heard somebody say, Well, my little guy started reading when he was three, he's very bright. Or someone might say on behalf of another person, oh, this little guy is so bright, he started reading when he was four. And it spreads this idea that reading an IQ are absolutely related. And we know that isn't true. And it led to making a lot of poor decisions to within schools. Well, that misconception one of those would be that students who were struggling with reading that had an high IQ didn't need any help. Well, I guess they're lazy, not putting forth enough effort. And then they're also likewise with students who had a lower IQ, but could be good little readers, because I didn't have a reading disability would be ignored virtually because Oh, their IQ is too low. So reading apart will be difficult. So a lot of poor decisions are made in schools based on that misinformation. And then the other thing is just the perception that people who struggle with reading have their whole lives felt like they weren't very bright because of reading. And so I think that's my number one pet peeve, I have to say, because it causes a lot of problems all the way around.

Lindsay Kemeny:

Yeah, that link between depression and dyslexia or reading struggles is just so strong. And it's so I think we've all just witnessed the heartache. And just these students who just they have these feelings of worthlessness. They walk through the halls just dejected, and not knowing what's wrong with them thinking they're dumb, when they're not. They're

Donell Pons:

bright, and it shuts down a lot of dreams, you know, a lot of hopes and dreams for folks. And it's pretty early, especially with our people, our folks who have dyslexia, right. I think that's another thing. If we had a really good grasp on this, we wouldn't do the things that happen to you see happening, we wouldn't do those things that are damaging, we'd have a better chance at not doing those things. And that I tell you, my goodness, we should be doing everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen.

Lindsay Kemeny:

I know that's what really helped my son and it was It wasn't me that told him but someone else that said, you know, Dyslexics, a lot of them have a higher IQ, right? They're either average or above average. A lot of them. Yeah, that's a great one. Okay, Stacy, any thoughts on that before I move on to mine?

Stacy Hurst:

Well, it's it is a great one. It makes me think of the discrepancy model to me. It makes you wonder to get me started. Yeah, I know. Sorry to bring that up. So maybe Darnell, your pet peeve, and my pet peeve might fall into the area of misconception.

Donell Pons:

Yeah.

Lindsay Kemeny:

Yeah. Okay. So to share my first one, I'm going to let you guys listen, I'm not going to tell you my pet peeve, you're going to listen to 30 seconds and see what my pet peeve is. Okay. There we go.

Unknown:

Um, most of our books have a sticker of white sticker on the bottom of the spine of the book that tells you the Lexile level. This book Ramona, the brain has a Lexile level of 820 means eight to zero, l this is a Lexile level of that book. If you look at your card, and this is within your range, this will be a good fit for you. Here Lexile level is between 204 100 This book would be too high too hard for right now. If your Lexile level is between 900 and 1000, this book would be a little bit too easy. So we would find something a little bit more challenging. All right.

Lindsay Kemeny:

Oh, I heard the chuckles Yep. No, nothing kills students excitement about reading faster than having these restrictions, like you can only read, you know, between these certain levels. So this is a huge pet peeve of mine. And I have two stories kind of on on two different ends of the spectrum here. One my son with dyslexia, if he was only allowed to read the books he could actually read like I'm thinking back to when he's in third grade, he would have only been able to have access to like little simple decodable kind of CBC, CBC simple books, and he would miss out on all this, you know, grade level content and background knowledge and vocabulary. And of course, you know, this is where some audio books come into play. But there's also a lot of research that supports having students exposed to complex text. And when he was it was about in third grade where we started reading chapter books too. Gather where he would read a sentence, I would read a sentence he would read a sentence either your sentence took a really long time at first. But he was so proud of himself when we finished that first book. I think our first chapter book was Hank Zipzer book. So if you guys know Henry Winkler, he's has dyslexia. And he has a series of books where the main character has dyslexia, My son loved those. And I just remember, we were at an event in the end of that summer. And you know, those books are probably like a third fourth grade level. And so he introduced himself at this event, set his name and said, I have dyslexia but I can read fourth grade books, no one's going to limit him to a certain reading level. And I just love that. And then on the other end, my other son, I have four children. So one of my other sons, he was in fifth grade, and he read above grade level, his Lexile was like, you know, seventh, eighth grade books. And his teacher, every time they read a book, they had to do a book report. All right, that's kind of a pet peeve within a Pet Pet. Then who wants to read right? But anyway, and they had to get a certain amount of pages per turn. Well, my son was really into these Diary of a Minecraft zombie box. Okay. Greatest literature. They're simple. They're like chapter books, I don't know, they're like 100 pages each. But there's tons of his teacher told him that he couldn't read those because they were too easy for him that he should read books on his Lexile level. And I talked to her, and I'm like, this is what he's interested in right now. Like, if he can't read them now, then he'll never be able to, you know, and, and maybe the books that are seventh eighth grade level aren't necessarily appropriate for him. So this is where his interest is, we have no concerns about his reading, this is fine. And she kind of dug in her heels and said, I will not accept any of the pages from these books. And you know, I won't accept book reports from these. And I just kind of was like, okay, you know what, I'm not going to tell him, you know, to myself, I'm just like, Well, I'm not going to tell him he can't read them. And so he read probably 1000 pages that she just wouldn't count. And I'm like, whatever. That's not important. What's important is that he likes to read, right? And he's excelling, just kind of two different experiences. I mean, what kind of effect does an aside signed reading level have on a child?

Stacy Hurst:

Oh, I think you just hit on a pet peeve that might have taken me a week to get to related to that it's this myth of reading levels. Yeah, we just won't let go of that. But yeah, and so you can see the impact of that by the two examples you just shared.

Donell Pons:

And Stacey are miscut. My my that conception, if you want to call it misconceptions about reading, ignoring the IQ, right. So this extremely bright child does have the ability to read and understand something right with support as you read a sentence, he read a sentence, but definitely his mind is ready to accept that material and how those experiences. So again, I think, you know, the they relate many ways you see them cross over each other.

Lindsay Kemeny:

And I really credit that a lot to how well he's reading now. I mean, so we do the same thing. Now he's reading Harry Potter, he's in sixth grade. And man, those Harry Potter books are hard. I mean, we're like in a sixth one. And he does awesome. I mean, now he's reading more than the sentence. He's reading longer. But I might, he can plod through those complex texts, because we practice so much with them. Exactly. Yeah, no.

Stacy Hurst:

So in that sense, we need to focus sounds like more on the reader. Yeah, absolutely.

Donell Pons:

Well, and

Lindsay Kemeny:

those Lexile levels are really, we can't just limit them to a level and say this is your because on some topics, they're going to be able to read harder levels than on other topics. Yeah,

Stacy Hurst:

I don't think it's an easy connect the dots, right? Like, I feel like if we can keep curiosity alive in our students, it seems to come in spades when they're young. But at some point, probably about the time we start limiting their reading, right, one way or the other. And then also, they're just gonna learn more, right? They're gonna end if 80% of learning depends on reading anyway, then let them read what they're interested in.

Donell Pons:

Yeah. Lindsay, I like what you said too, about just allowing your son to just be a text, you're not worried. You know, he's fine. And having practice with a text that that is quite manageable for him is really good practice being in text that's easily manageable. Hey, that's awesome. There's value to all of it. That's the thing, setting up these limitations coming up with arbitrary ideas about what's a good experience with a text, right, because that's arbitrary. You know, we don't know that that doesn't have value for him. I have not seen a specific study on that. Right. Yeah. In that moment with that text. This isn't a good idea. Yeah. So I like that you stood up for your son and you let him read what he wanted to read because that's the biggest piece engagement,

Lindsay Kemeny:

right? Yeah, exactly.

Narrator:

Our terrific trio is having fun sharing their pet peeves about reading and teaching reading. We're so glad you're along for the ride. Do you have some pet peeves and myths about reading and literacy you'd like to share? We'd love to hear from you share your thoughts at reading horizons.com/reading-resources.

Lindsay Kemeny:

So, okay, awesome. Well, I think we can go around and share another pet peeve. So I hope you guys are ready for another one. Let's go back to Stacey, I know you had a list of them. You said,

Stacy Hurst:

I do. And you know what I? What? How do you draw the line between pet peeve? And like, I'm just angry about some

Lindsay Kemeny:

crossover? Yeah. Okay. Yes,

Stacy Hurst:

yeah. So my pet peeve really, truly is. It's big. It's real. It's big. But we've all suffered from it. And it really is that well, a I'm bitter that we didn't learn what we needed to learn in college about teaching reading. And to add insult to injury there it was, that information was available. But I know our professors didn't know it or chose not to embrace it, or whatever. And I think I'm at a point now where I'm angry because we have to go to great lengths to make up for that. So we know in the state that we're in, which is Utah, this state has purchased for school districts, letters training, which is fantastic training, but it's expensive, and it's time consuming. And teachers are busy already. Yes, they need it. It is critical and crucial. I am not going to say that it's not the case. But it's unfortunate that we have to spend the time and money to do that. I guess just to take a one little step further. We are now all of us in a situation where we do no better we do. We have entire state saying they will not accept the three queuing system and any other curricular materials. There's no reason for us to not be teaching things that are aligned with the science of reading in our College of Education. There really is no reason. Yeah, anyway. So yeah, a little bit angry. Sure, you could tell that coming through. But yeah, that would be my next one.

Lindsay Kemeny:

I think we've all experienced that. Why didn't I learn this in college? What I just remember specifically when I learned that dyslexia is the most common learning disability. What? Why didn't I have a course on this? You know, why don't I have professional development on this? Yeah, why

Stacy Hurst:

can't even say dyslexia, right. And then the other. I kept thinking about this, I think I've shared this with YouTube before, I don't remember the year I want to say was around 2005. I was contacted by the university I graduated from because that was one of the first years they did the National Council of teacher quality review on pre service programs. And apparently the university that I graduated from came up on top in our state that year. And so they wanted to interview somebody who graduated from that university. Now, at this point, I'm already a literacy coach. So I've already taught first grade, the National Reading Panel has had a huge impact on my career at this point. And they interviewed me and I even used the term science of reading before it was cool in the interview. It's in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Lindsay Kemeny:

Wait, they said you used it before it was cool. So apparently,

Stacy Hurst:

I recently within the last year, found the article and read it and I'm like I said science of reading. Love it anyway. But the whole time, they were asking me questions. And I was talking about the National Reading Panel and how hard it is for teachers to know what the latest research is and how to translate that into practice. Whatever else I said the entire time I was thinking, but I didn't learn any of that in college. I didn't say it because I felt like that would be rude. But I was thinking in my mind, I didn't learn it there. I this was all me like reading stuff.

Lindsay Kemeny:

Okay, so it's all now I'm gonna cut in front of you because this leads into my pet peeves that okay, for like, I remember I had a course in college on phonics. And I was I pulled out the book not too long ago, because I'm like, No, I know I have a phonics class, what did I learn and I feel like reading that book, and it literally says that phonics should be used as a last resort. Oh, so I was heavily taught the three cueing strategies balanced literacy to language repackage, so my pet peeve is those that are resistant to stop using the three cueing strategies. And if you're not familiar with that, that's when you're reading a word based on the meaning the syntax, the visual cues, this is those Beanie Baby strategies where it's like, look at the first letter. Look at the picture. Does that give you a clue? They're all guessing strategies. A lot of people will argue and say I'm not teaching kids to guess but you know, even the father of whole language can good been called reading a psycho linguistic guessing game. So I just see that I see some that I see a lot. I'm excited about because a lot are, are getting rid of these strategies, but there's a lot that are still fighting back. And I even just watched something with a, like a teacher edu celebrity who has, you know, sells on TPT. And, and has her own blog, and she said, it's not, it's more about tweaking the strategies. So the strategies, instead of saying, Look at the picture, first, you're gonna, you know, switch that and use that last to figure out the word. And so it's just really alarming to me, because it's not just that there isn't any research to support those strategies, those strategies are doing damage, right. And I think they're harming students. They're creating these terrible habits, they impede the process necessary for the students to store those words in memory. We need the students to map the sounds to the graphemes to keep their eyes on the words, Dakota all the way through. So Darnell, have you seen adults that, that you work with who who kind of depend on these three queueing strategies,

Donell Pons:

so the adults that I work with have been drowning for years, and so they're leaning into anything, and none of it is terribly efficient or effective. And most of them cannot honestly remember being given any strategy. They have very vivid memories of being out in the hall on their own, because they weren't quote unquote, getting it. In fact, I have one who said the principal would walk by this man is in his 60s, and he remembers the principal walking by when he was in third grade and saying, you've been out here all day. Wow, and didn't do anything about it. Those are the memories. So they can't even remember having been taught a poor strategy. They don't remember being taught any strategy

Lindsay Kemeny:

strategy. Yeah. So I just see constantly with those little kids. That's what they already want to do is look at the picture and guess we don't need to teach them that right. We've got to break that habit. We shouldn't encourage it. Stacy, you were telling us about an experience you had with one of your pre service teachers. I was wondering if you could tell us about about that test question she got

Stacy Hurst:

up. I'm gonna have to, I don't know have a Diet Coke after this or something. You guys are triggering

Lindsay Kemeny:

me. Or riling you up? Okay. Yes.

Stacy Hurst:

No, she texted me it was 1030 at night. And she said, I am so mad that I got this question wrong. And she'd screenshotted it. So I thought it was the quiz that I had given her. I thought she got one of my questions. Right. And I was like, I thought she was getting ready to, I don't know, negotiate to get it. But as I read the question, it was very specific to the three cueing strategies. In fact, it said, teaching a student to look at the first letter in a word and guess the word and looking at the pictures, and then there was one other will help their reading development. And it was a true or false question. And she said false and got it wrong. And this was in I teach, obviously, in the College of Education, but this was in a family life and human development course. I was so furious about that. And I my instinct was to literally be like, who is the professor? I will be in their office tomorrow, we will have a conversation. But I I texted back and said, How are you going to handle that? And she said, Oh, I just sent them all three of Emily Hanford articles. Like I like thank you good. Yeah, I don't have to handle it. And it was my student advocating for it. So it's still happening. still happening. Yeah. Even at a university where the science that goes into reading is being taught.

Lindsay Kemeny:

Yeah, I believe it because at first I thought, oh, people are switching and now I'm seeing statements online and in Facebook groups and different things. And I'm like, Ah, no. And there are people that they are their resistance. They're saying, you know, someone posted a video, but listen to this kindergartener, you're going to tell them that they're not reading, you know, and they're just obviously just memorize the pattern of the book. But anyway, we're almost out of time. So Darnell, let's, let's go back to you. What's your last pet peeve that you want to share with us?

Donell Pons:

So very quickly, just the last one is reading is done by third grade. That's a huge pet peeve. Oh, that

Unknown:

we're all done by third learning to read reading to learn that one. Yeah, that whole thing.

Donell Pons:

And that's a can of worms we could talk about for a whole session too. But just developmentally doesn't make a lick of sense, right, developmentally, and the differences that we have developmentally and the needs of students, but that does a lot of harm. That idea that yeah, it's all done by third grade.

Lindsay Kemeny:

Yeah, there's still so much to do. I love that. Okay. I love that you guys. So to kind of recap our pet peeves, I guess we have our six then that we share today. So English is not crazy. IQ and reading are not related. They're not the same thing. We can't limit a child to their Lexile levels. We talked about the frustration of not learning what we needed to in college. And now we're kind of paying the price as we're trying to make up for that. We need to get rid of those three cueing strategies. And it's hard when we find some that are resistant to that. And then we are reading instruction continues. We're not done by third grade. So I think that's a good list. You guys, and you

Stacy Hurst:

started the podcast talking about Timothy Shanahan and we can end by doing the same thing because he wrote to blog posts because apparently he had more pet peeves. I'm sure we could keep going to part two.

Unknown:

We might need to.

Stacy Hurst:

Thank you, Lindsay. That was an awesome discussion. And thanks, everybody for joining us. We will see you next time.

Narrator:

Thanks for joining us today for literacy talks, the podcast series for literacy leaders and champions everywhere. Literacy talks comes to you from Reading Horizons where reading momentum begins. Join us next time