Science of Reading: The Podcast

S5-E10: Training the next generation of Science of Reading educators with Dr. Amy Murdoch

June 29, 2022 Amplify Education Season 5 Episode 10
Science of Reading: The Podcast
S5-E10: Training the next generation of Science of Reading educators with Dr. Amy Murdoch
Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Amy Murdoch is the assistant dean of Reading Science in the School of Education at Mount St. Joseph University. She received her doctorate in school psychology with an emphasis in early literacy from the University of Cincinnati. In this episode, she chats with Susan Lambert about creating prominent graduate and doctoral programs in the Science of Reading, and the responsibility of training the next generation of early literacy educators. She discusses how she has seen Science of Reading interest escalate, shares her hopes for the future of reading science in schools, and offers advice for those who are new to the Science of Reading and/or exploring an advanced degree rooted in reading science.

Show notes:

Beginning to Read by Marilyn Adams

Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children by Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley

Project Ready! An Early Language and Literacy Program to Close the Readiness Gap - Research article

Mount St. Joseph University Reading Science Program

Center for Reading Science

Quotes:

"Don't do it alone, try to find community and find people you can, you know, your trusted colleagues that you can bounce ideas off of and grow your learning."
—Dr. Amy Murdoch

"Sometimes things are not completely clear and we need to collect more evidence in data and we do the best we can until we kind of refine a practice that we're trying to figure out, especially for children who really have significant struggles with reading."
—Dr. Amy Murdoch

"We're all working towards the same goal of helping all children enter the world of reading successfully and continue that path of reading successfully."
—Dr. Amy Murdoch

Speaker 1:

We've been hearing lots of folks asking about graduate and doctoral programs. They may seek out as they look to get more deeply trained in the science of reading and the programs at Mount St . Joseph university in Cincinnati always receive high praise and recommendations. I see those recommendations all over social media. They're one of the science of reading leaders in higher education. And we are so honored to be able to talk with Dr . Amy Murdoch, who leads those programs. She'll talk a little bit about her journey, but also talk about the content behind these programs and how they developed. Be sure to check out the show notes for helpful resources. She mentions including links to a couple of books that were instrumental in the development of her science of reading, understanding. We hope you enjoy this episode, so well. Hello, Dr . Murdoch, thank you so much for joining me on today's episode.

Speaker 2:

Oh, well , thank you so much for having me. It's wonderful to be here, Susan.

Speaker 1:

And as you know, we like to start each episode by , um, having our guests just share a little bit about their journey. How did you become interested in literacy and particularly in the science of reading?

Speaker 2:

That's a great question. Um, so I did my undergraduate in psychology and at that time I thought for sure, I was going to go into kind of community mental health work. Um, very interested in how do we make communities better places for children. Um, and I just thought, that's what I wanna do. And I wanna work kind of in the mental health sphere. And then during my undergraduate, I had the wonderful opportunity to work in a Chicago public school that was focused on children who were struggling with some mental health issues. And so it was a therapeutic kind of setting, but it was for Chicago public school students. So I was in a , a first grade classroom and I was just an undergrad. So I was really just kind of a helper. And I was struck by the challenges the children had, not only in mental health issues, but they, none of them could read. And I remember asking the first grade teacher, and this was like spring of first grade and, and they couldn't read at all, like nothing. And, and I remember asking the first grade teacher about that and asking her to kind of help me understand the academics behind this system. Um, and it just became really apparent that part of their mental health issues and concerns were also wrapped up in a real failure to succeed academically. It really struck me that experience really struck me as something that we could do something about. And if we did, it would also help with some of the other challenges that these children specifically were facing. Yeah. Um, and so then I had the opportunity to go into a couple other schools and I saw some similar kinds of challenges in schools with reading instruction. And I didn't know a lot about reading instruction at that time. So I thought, oh, you know, this is again, just another symptom of needing to support communities and support families and all of those good things. Hmm . But I thought enough about, you know, schools were being, were a place where lots of good stuff could happen for children. So , um, for graduate school, I thought I wanna go into school psychology cuz I really wanna help improve schools. I was really interested in diversity and how do we make our schools diverse and supportive of diversity and all of those good things. So fast forward to my graduate program and I was in a doctoral program that was a kind of a master's into a , a doctoral degree. And I had the great fortune with being mentored by , um , Dr . Entz. And he did a lot of work in the area of reading and worked in kind of all sorts of different schools. But you know, the main focus was children living in poverty and he kept telling me, Amy, you need to focus on reading. That's what you care about. You wanna change schools, you wanna , you wanna work on reading. Um, he, as a graduate student was part of project follow through , which was a wonderful research project that , um, looked at what are the things we should do to help all children succeed, especially children living in poverty. And so he gave me Marilyn Adam's book beginning to read, and he said, you need to read this book. And I did. And I was just completely amazed by that research and um, that, that research wasn't what was happening in schools. And then he said, I needed to read a second book. He gave me the <laugh> the heart and RLY meaningful differences in the everyday lives of American children. Oh yeah. And that really just like set me on the path to say, I wanna work in reading and I wanna work in early intervention because you know, we know so much about how to help children have a strong start, but we're not doing that. So how, how can we help our systems, our schools, our community organizations, support children. And to me, it just seemed like reading was that Keystone.

Speaker 1:

Mm that's amazing. And for our listeners will link in the show notes, both of those two titles, so they can go out and look at those funny story about that. Marilyn Adams text is I was in a school one time and they were downsizing their , uh , professional development library. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and they had a cart of things for free. Right. And I grabbed that Marilyn Adams beginning to read book. I had never read it before. This was probably maybe 12 or 15 years ago and it's the original copyright. And I thought, wow, I don't think the school knew what they were getting rid of . And I oh , wow . They were hoping to have that back on anyway. Yeah . It's a , it's a great read.

Speaker 2:

It is . It

Speaker 1:

Is . So all of that background is really helpful to understand a lot of the work that you're doing at Mount St . Joseph university. How was the transition from that work that you were doing in your doctoral program? How did you land at Mount St. Joseph university? And we're gonna talk a little bit about , um, the development of that program, because it really is a premier program across the country for science of reading and people recognize that.

Speaker 2:

Thank

Speaker 1:

You. So what brought you to MSJ ?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so after graduate school, I worked in Cincinnati public schools and I was fortunate to have a number of different roles there , um, around different reading grants. So the biggest one being reading first, I was , um , the director of reading first in Cincinnati public and, and wrote their grant and then had the wonderful challenge of , um , directing that large grant, which involved 11 schools completely changing their, their reading program K through three and all the good supports that went into place around that. And we framed it around MTSS. Now what's known as MTSS at the time. Yeah , it was RTI mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so from there, I went to work at the special education regional resource center, which was an organization that served the public schools in kind of Southwest Ohio region. We did a lot of professional development and supportive schools, again, moving their districts and elementary schools and high schools towards the science of reading, using an MTSS framework. And then it was really interesting timing cuz that organization was going through some pretty big changes. They were merging with another organization that had a different philosophy and it , it no longer was a great match for me. Um, and it was one of those moments that was like, well, I know I can't do this. What should I do? And I just re vividly remember like late at night, like Googling, you know, what are different job openings in the area and thought, oh, I'll look at universities cuz you know, I thought I would end up at a university. I was very interested in doing research and happened to, you know, see this job posting from Mount St . Joseph university. And it was literally my dream job. They were looking for somebody who knew about the science of reading and would like to create a program for area schools, reading teachers to get a master's degree in the science of reading. Wow . And I thought in our area in Ohio , um , at that time and to some degree still there <laugh> , um , we had a strong whole language or balance literacy influence mm-hmm <affirmative> balance literacy and whole language was definitely predominant in our schools of education at the time. And so I thought is this for real, you know, is this , is this truly, is , are they really looking for a reading professor to, to teach the science of reading? And I was fortunate that it was for real <laugh> Dr. Richard Sparks was at Mount St . Joseph at the time and Dr . Myth OOC , who both were science of reading mm-hmm <affirmative> people . And they, they wanted to kind of change their graduate program towards the science of reading. And so I was hired to direct that program. And with Rick sparks, we kind of created the program, created all the courses. So it was this wonderful opportunity to really create something that would meet the needs that teachers had around. How do we support all kids to, to learn to read?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Wow. And that master's program has been around how long now?

Speaker 2:

So let's see, this is my 14th year at the Mount and I was , um , hired to start it. So wow. Moving into our 14th year.

Speaker 1:

Not that long. Congratulations.

Speaker 2:

Yeah . Yeah. Thanks.

Speaker 1:

<laugh> so you were able to bring, I mean, you know, that, that equity passion that you have , um, you know, the, the needs of students, the reading and all the experiences you had really served you well then to know here's what we need to put in front of our master's program folks, to ensure that they're being trained appropriately because I'm imagining 14 or 15 years ago, undergraduates weren't receiving the education they needed to receive in the undergraduate coursework to really prepare them to teach reading. Right.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. And that's absolutely what I was seeing both in my work in Cincinnati public and at the special education regional resource center , um , teachers would come to the center or come to professional development sessions and they would hear things about the science of reading and just lamented. Why is this the first time I'm hearing this? Why didn't I hear this in my undergraduate or graduate programs? Why was this, you know, held back from me and kind of a , a real frustration from teachers, understandably that they weren't provided this important information that has been around for quite a while. You know, the science of reading is not new. Yeah. Um, and so that's a real sadness to teachers at first, like, wait a minute, I could have been doing this differently. Um, but of course once they have the great stuff, they're able to implement that in their classrooms. And that's, that was our always our favorite thing that we would hear , um, from our students in class is that, you know, they would learn something in class and then they could implement it the next day with their students. And that was so valuable for us too, because they would tell us about it. And that would really guide our coursework and understanding what we needed to put into place as we are building this at the time new program.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And that makes sense. And so when you first started that program 14 years ago, how was it different then from what it is now? What, what kind of things have changed or grown over time?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Oh, that's a great question. You know, I would have to say the bones of it are really the same. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um , I think the core content that we've put into place , um, has really followed through , um, things that have changed. Obviously new research has come out. I think over the last, probably especially the last like five or six years, I think there's been more accessible information around how kind of the brain processes, reading information and a greater kind of flow of research from cognitive psychology that is more applicable to , to education. I mean, I think that research was there to some degree, but I think the connections to education have been made stronger. So I can see that as a place that's really evolved across our coursework. Um, the other piece that's evolved, which has been really fun is we moved our program about six years ago to a fully online format. Mm . And that really came out of a couple things. One, we, we were one of the first programs to get the international dyslexia association. Accreditation, Ida has a wonderful set of knowledge and practice standards that are what every teacher should be learning in their undergrad and graduate programs. And then they use those standards to accredit programs. So, you know, they look at your alignment with these knowledge and practice standards and provide accreditation. So we, we were one of the first programs that went through that process. And through going through that process, the wonderful consultant that we worked with at Ida Dr . Charlotte Andris who's since left this earth, unfortunately , um , she really encouraged us at the time to add a dyslexia certificate. Dyslexia was definitely a key part of our content already. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, but we added some additional practicum experiences and, you know, really put that kind of wrap around of having a dyslexia certificate to , to, you know, acknowledge the importance of understanding reading disability, as well as reading in general mm-hmm <affirmative>. And then with that idea recognition, and again, the encouragement of Dr. Andris and she had wonderful suggestions about strengthening our program as well. We got a lot of recognition, I guess, for that. And so we would have lots of people contact us and say, oh, have you ever thought about having an online program? And so we hadn't, but then with all of the great feedback we were getting, we thought, well, let's consider this. And so then we moved our program to fully online. Um, and the wonderful thing that happened with that is we were able to attract people from all over the country. And I think that really adds to our program to have those perspectives from all over. Um, it increased our diversity of just kind of roles that people were in. Um, we had more people in related services now joining the program. So we have a number of speech, language pathologists we'll get school psychologists. Um, so when I first started the program, we had one cohort of eight students that started once a year and now we have five cohorts a year and we have 20 students in each cohort.

Speaker 1:

And, and how many applications do you get though for each of those 20 spots? Quite a few. I would

Speaker 2:

Imagine we do. Yeah, we do. And so, you know, we've really tried to increase our capacity with the demand for the graduate program. This, this last year was the first time that we've had to actually turn people away cuz we didn't have spots. And in the past we've been able to, you know, increase well , instead of one cohort we'll have two cohorts, but I think we're kind of at our capacity limit right now until our doctoral students finish and then they can come and teach with us. <laugh> so great to go . Um , yeah. So the graduate program, we, we hope to accommodate everybody who meets our criteria in the program, but we're starting to realize that we're not quite able to do that anymore, but still pretty close.

Speaker 1:

Oh , that that's, that's amazing. And like I said , uh , Mount St Joe has a great reputation for their graduate program. And I know as I watch social media and people are asking, where can I get my master's degree? That will give me good foundations in reading science, MSJ comes up all the time. So congratulations on creating something. That's just really meeting the needs. Um, if we think about though, like if I was going to go to Mount St Joe and get my master's degree there compared to getting my master's degree, maybe just say at another university, what would students learn there at M MSJ in that graduate program that really makes it science of reading based ?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So I think the first thing is a very consistent model. So I'm very encouraged that a lot of universities now are moving towards the science, but it's not always consistent across their program yet. You know, you might have one professor who is aligned with the science and then there's another professor who's a little bit more whole language and so forth. Um, one of the things that we've worked really hard at Mount St . Joe is consistency across our program. And so making sure that all of our faculty, all of our courses are complimentary to each other and building across the course sequence mm-hmm <affirmative> . So you start with a foundations class and then you go deeper and deeper and deeper. So some of the things that I think make the Mount unique to maybe other places , um, around us, at least really using research from cognitive psychology, educational psychology school, psychology speech, language pathology, really the research from multiple disciplines that help us understand how children learn to read how reading develops and then what to do when reading is not easy. We have sometimes people ask us if we have too strong of a focus on children who are struggling and my answer to that is possibly, but <laugh> , if you can teach a struggling reader to read, you can teach anybody to read and all children need a strong teacher, but struggling readers will not learn to read successfully without a strong teacher. We know that, right. And so , um, our, our program I'm actually proud to say really does focus on how do we help all children to read, especially those for whom reading is challenging, including children with dyslexia , uh , or other reading disabilities. And so understanding the, the kind of why behind it, but in our graduate program, particularly a big focus on what are the instructional tools and strategies assessments can I use that will help my children become successful. So very practical focus is the other thing, you know, kind of learn it in class and do it with your students. The next day is our hope

Speaker 1:

And really , um, just to reiterate strong in the research foundations, but don't just sit there, right? Like how do we make this applicable in such a way that , um, for those of , for those listeners that are new to the science of reading, right? You still really use the simple view of reading as your , as your , your base to start from saying that kids need to have word recognition and language comprehension, and then unpacking that, is that right throughout the , the master's coursework really unpacking what that means?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I think the simple view is a nice foundation for people to understand. And then of course, as you understand it, you realize the complexity to it, right? And even the different components, it's not just teaching the different components independently, but it's how they weave together and support the development of the other. So how does phonics and spelling work together and even vocabulary and all of those things. So we always joke that, you know, the simple view starts out simple until you learn more and then you realize, oh gosh, it's not simple at all. Um, and , and again, the integration of instruction and, and , and not even just the integration of instruction, but how to understand assessment and database decision making and how we set up systems to help all of our students learn to read. And what does that look like with, you know, an interventionist working hand in hand with a classroom teacher and bringing in that SLP and , and , and all of those professionals collaboratively working together to figure out what students as groups need and individuals need to be successful.

Speaker 1:

Hmm . And because of the success of this program, then you decided, wow, wouldn't it be great if we had a doctoral program? <laugh> how did that come to be?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that also came really came from our students. So we had wonderful graduates, just doing amazing things from our graduate program. And they would often come back to me or Dr . Sparks and would say, you know, I'm kind of thinking about doing doctoral work, where should I go? Where should I go to learn more? And there are some other wonderful universities doing great stuff in the science of reading, but most of our graduates couldn't give up their career. So, you know, maybe they were doing great work in a school district, leading curriculum, and they couldn't really give that up and move to another state and completely dedicate their life to doctoral work. That just wasn't where they were in their life. But yet we saw these people as such amazing leaders and people, we want to have higher education and advance in leadership and teach in higher education. And so that was one big push is our students and not, you know, finding the right place for them to be able to go next. The other big push was, as our program was expanding, we needed to hire more people. And we were interviewing lovely applicants, people who had impressive resumes, but when we talked with them about the science of reading, that wasn't their background, you know, just like we say, teachers can't do what they don't know when they learn new things and do things better. Then they advance professors. The same thing, you know, they, they grew up in graduate and doctoral programs that were balanced literacy and they , they didn't learn the science of reading and their doctoral programs. And so they teach balance literacy. So it's that same problem. And so we thought, gosh, how do we, how do we grow our program? How do we, you know, grow the science of reading in teacher education? And that's where we thought we need a doctoral program that can capitalize on those great leaders that we see in our graduates, but provide them a doctoral program that will get them ready to become the next professors, the next, you know, leaders in school districts to really make sure our new teachers are trained in the science of reading from the beginning of their teacher training, rather than so many of my students who had to wait till graduate school to learn about the science.

Speaker 1:

Hmm . And it was important for you too, just like in the master's program to have this for working professionals. Right. And mostly, mostly asynchronous. Right?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So then we started thinking, okay, if we wanna create this doctoral program, we wanna create it again for people who are doing the work already, that we think would be great to kind of invest in, in terms of education. Um , but they can't give up their lives. And there's real value for them doing the work as they're doing the doctoral program. And that's been the most fun is to learn with these doctoral students who are doing amazing things and bring such insight into the doctoral program. It's like, you can't possibly not, you know, close that research to practice gap when you're working with people practicing all day, and then they're reading research, that's where their minds go. Okay. How can we do this in schools? So I love that so much cuz that's what we want. We want programs that close that research to practice gap, make it applicable to schools and who better to do that than the people doing the hard work in schools. Um, so then it was about, okay, that's who we want. So how do we build a program that will work for them? And we did a lot of work prior to kind of putting our plans in place to try to understand what might work. So we talked to our, our graduates, we talked to our friends who were doing research and professional development in the field and thought through what a doctoral program for a busy working professional might look like that was focused on the science of reading. And so we came up with a fully online during the school year program that does have some synchronous meetings in each class to have more collaboration. And then during the summer we all come together for a week long summer Institute. So we can have some of that face to face time . So we're , we're just going into our second year now. So, so far so good. But I guess the , the proof will be when, when our graduates finish and reflect back to see if that worked. But so far it's, it's working pretty well <laugh>

Speaker 1:

And insider information. I'm actually in that first cohort. So for those of you that know me and are listening, you're probably wondering why isn't she saying something about being in that cohort, but it's been, it's been really amazing. And the quality of people that are in there is just, and the learning that happens is, you know, bar none. Right? Yeah . Like it just, like you said, it's just been amazing. And so you're getting ready to, so you've uh , the first cohort is , has just started year two. Second cohort is just starting year one. And you have the master's program now, how are you feeling about all of that and the , and the kind of impact that you're having in terms of higher ed

Speaker 2:

Mm-hmm <affirmative> ? Well, we luckily have been able to hire some additional fabulous faculty members to help as we've, as we've grown, we've added people to our team and that has been wonderful and, and adding to the perspectives and kind of people who can teach different courses in our program, which has been really important. I think the other thing that I was feeling with the doctoral program is amazingly grateful of the people who, and I'm gonna get emotional Susan , um , of the people who came and wanted to do our program. Um, I remember when we were doing interviews, especially that first cohort, because you know, it was all so brand new then and reflecting with my faculty thinking, oh my goodness, I can't believe these amazing people want to come to this brand new program and help us figure it out. And that's what we told them when we accepted them. So they knew, and Susan can attest to this that, you know, they were gonna be trailblazers with us. They were gonna help us figure out what it takes to do this program. Well, and just how amazingly grateful I am, that we got the people both in cohort one and cohort two that we got because they were the right people to help us figure this, give us some great feedback and understand things that we're working and things that we wanted to tweak a bit. But then also just the journey that we're going on, I feel like we're going on together. Just , I'm very grateful for the amazing people that I've been able to connect with as part of building this program.

Speaker 1:

I think what's so exciting to me to hear you talk about it is sort of this arc that we just said when you started teaching people didn't know about the science of reading, when you started the master's program, it was difficult to find people that wanted to support it. And now the interest that you have, right? Yeah. I feel like that's changed a lot across the country that teachers are now really, really hungry across the country, not just to learn about how to make this happen in their classrooms, but to get credentialed in that, to get their master's , to get their doctoral degree. Have you seen that change over the course of, of being there at, at the Mount ?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. And the thing I love about it too, is it's been very like organic in terms of, you know , it's been building slowly. I mean , I think the last, probably five years it's the build has been increased, but you know, it's the right thing when your graduates leave. And they're so passionate about this work that they spread the word, they do the work in their schools and they spread the word and it's just like contagious. It's like, I , I know what to do now. It's like , um, not that it's easy. Not that it's a magic wand by any mean , but they have a path. They know how, how to help students and the passion that they carry forward into their work is amazing. And I think that's why it's growing. It's because it's working, you know, it's, it's everybody wants success . We don't , we don't wanna feel that we're, we're failing kids or failing our schools. And so once you find things that succeed, you spread the word. And I always say, you know, our, our little Mount Saint geo program, we have a teeny tiny marketing budget and our best marketing is our students. Most of the time, people who come to our program say they either heard now on social media about our program from one of our students or a friend of theirs went through it or, you know, somebody they know was connected. And so I think that's the, that's the best recruitment strategy ever is just having successful graduates out there doing amazing work.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, for sure. And I do know the doctoral program, the second cohort, I mean, you have folks like how many different states somebody from Hawaii even. Yeah . So, so you're talking about a really broad reach in terms of states.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. And our graduate program is like that as well. So mm-hmm <affirmative> right now. I mean, sometimes people ask me cuz we're in Cincinnati, Ohio and we are a brick and mortar university. We are not an online university. Actually the reading science program is one of the only online programs at our university. And I think in the, or the current group that I have right now that just started the graduate program. I think I have two people from Ohio of our 40 news states . Oh really? <laugh> so, which is kind of fun cuz we have people from all over. I think we have just about every state now represented across, you know, our time with graduate and doctoral students. Um , and yes, especially the doctoral program. We have people, Hawaii, Wyoming , uh , Michigan, Illinois, all over. So yes , but

Speaker 1:

That's yeah, that's amazing. So what, you know , as you've watched sort of the science of reading movement sort of evolve, what are the things that really encourage you besides the fact that teachers are now are more and more interested in being trained in the science of reading? What other things are encouraging about this movement?

Speaker 2:

I think it's really encouraging that you're seeing lots of different stakeholders get involved. You're seeing community leaders talk about the science of reading as a way kind of going back to what I was very first interested in, in changing our communities and strengthening communities and you know, just building more opportunities for all. So you see people not even connected to education, connected more to social movements and stuff like that. Talking about the science of reading as the way to help improve society. You see people at like the school board level and the kind of superintendent level being interested in this. So I'm encouraged cuz I see it as both a bottom up and a top down approach and I see it work in different ways. I see, you know, superintendents saying, oh, let's bring somebody in and talk about this. But then I also see kind of the smart kindergarten teacher who found success and then says to their principal, I know about this, let's do this in the school. And we know parents have done an amazing job of bringing awareness about the science of reading. So it's wonderful to see like it coming from all sides now, like it's not just parents or, you know, just bottom down , it's really coming from all sides. And then you're also seeing even state level efforts really pushing the science of reading. I mean definitely dyslexia laws across our country have, have moved this forward, but we're also seeing more initiatives like in higher education, how do we support teacher preparation programs to support their faculty, to move to the science of reading. So it's really nice cuz lots of different people are working on this from all the different angles that need to change in order to make systemic long term change happen. So I'm really hopeful. I haven't in my career, you know, I was fortunate to be trained in this from the beginning . Um , so I didn't have some of the dissonance that I know some of my colleagues and definitely some of my students have faced. Yeah . And so I, I am encouraged that at least it seems like there's real, real footing taking hold, you know, reading first, we thought this was happening. We thought with reading first, okay, we've got these, you know, these big projects and big money and big, you know, support behind it. And then so much of the reading first work kind of unfortunately dissipated, although I don't think it completely did. I think it set the foundation for what we're seeing now kind of the , yeah , the next wave to come in and really hopefully take us over the finish line.

Speaker 1:

Hmm . Well, and along with that, I know you at , at the Mount are also working on a new science of reading center. What can you tell us about that? I know it's just in process, right? Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So it's the center for reading science and um, it's really a way to kind of put together a number of projects that we've been working on , um, and give, give it more emphasis. Um , mm-hmm, <affirmative>, we're , we're thinking of our center for reading science kind of in two ways we want actually a physical center to support our area schools. We have a lot of schools in our area that are moving towards the science of reading and um , some schools that we've partnered with that are kind of model model demonstration sites. And we wanna encourage that and increase that in our area. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so kind of a physical center where teachers can come and learn together, learn about different curriculum resources and check things out. But then also a national center, which would have a virtual web space where again, there would be resources at different levels for teachers to learn about the science of reading , um , participate in different professional learning activities and really try to be kind of a trusted resource for the science of reading for our educational community. We kind of have right now with our center C three pillars to our center that we wanna move forward. And again, this is connected to work that we've done at the Mount through research and through grant projects, but work around the higher, higher education realm. So how do we help teacher preparation programs move to the science of reading? We did that in our university. So we moved our teacher preparation program , um, talked about the graduate and doctoral program, but our, our program for undergraduates and initial licensure, we also did a lot of work to align that to the science of reading and actually not just the science of reading, but the science of learning in general. So how do we teach math using science as well and how do we , um , set up classrooms? So that behavior is managed in a positive manner. And the research tells us like a lot about how to do that. And so one of our pillars is around helping higher ed and how do we train teachers with great things from the very beginning of their career? And how do we do that? Not just at Mount St Joe , but across the nation

Speaker 1:

That's important

Speaker 2:

Work. Yeah. And then our, our second pillar is , um, something near and dear to my heart, which is around early intervention. And how do we help young children in preschool have everything they need to be successful, especially those children from poverty or, you know, more marginalized, not having as many resources in their schools or , or in their communities. How do we make sure that they have those strong language and literacy foundations to help them become successful? So , um, along those lines, we have a , um , an open access curriculum that we've created that we are continuing to create and also professional learning modules connected to that, that we're hoping to share on our website when it's ready soon. And then we also have a physical lab school, that's a preschool lab school that people could come and visit and, you know, see these things in action in a real school. Hmm . Um , as well as some partner schools in our area. And then the final area is around kind of K12 and how do we support K12 teachers with professional learning resources and again, just kind of a trusted place to get information about the science of reading that they can use in their schools and, you know, support both instruction as well as that MTSS process. We have a project around MTSS that we're hoping to share lots of our tools and resources and professional learning modules around that area.

Speaker 1:

Wow. That's exciting. And this must be , uh , first sort of a first of a kind, is it , uh , in the country for a center?

Speaker 2:

Um, you know , I think there's lots of great, you know, organizations doing wonderful things around the science of reading. So, I mean, I think I'm not sure if we're first of a kind or just another wonderful resource hopefully to, to put out there that people can utilize some, some unique things that we've created. And we're also hoping to really utilize our doctoral students , um, to help share the , like our doctoral students do really wonderful projects in their classes that have application to teachers in schools. So sharing some of those things as well. So it's still kind of evolving. So we're hoping that through understanding needs that schools have and ideas that our faculty and doctoral students have, that I'll be able to tell you even more things that we can share. So stay tuned, <laugh>

Speaker 1:

Stay tuned. We will for sure. Um, where do you see the science of reading movement going next? You know, like it's, it's growing, it's changing many, many teachers are becoming more and more aware of just the need to change their practice in the classroom, particularly in the early grades. How do you see it evolving?

Speaker 2:

You know, my hope is that it evolves to what we do. You know, it's just education <laugh> , you know, mm-hmm , <affirmative> that it's not something different, but it's just part of how we train teachers. It's just part of what teachers do in schools. And so that it's not science of reading versus something else, but it's just, you know, we use the science to guide our educational practices and we train teachers that way from the beginning and then through their graduate and professional learning, we give them more and more and more, and that we're all working towards the same goal of helping all children into the world of reading successfully and continue that path of reading successfully. Of course, there's gonna be new, you know, discoveries. That's the great thing about science as we learn new things. Um, some of the things we thought were the best things we evolved into slightly different practices that are even better. And so I think that's the other thing that is unique is that really looking to understanding research and science and building that in our teachers from, from the beginning is also just so crucial and not always present in teacher preparation. Mm . So really looking to research rather than, you know, philosophy or theories to help us understand where we go next with educational practices.

Speaker 1:

Hmm . That makes sense. Any concerns you have at all about that ever evolving movement?

Speaker 2:

No. I mean, I think, I think as we evolve change is hard for humans. Um, you know, even, even if it's in our same fields and we're thinking, oh, you know, these are also science of reading people and they're , you know, we have different discussions and different takes on things. I think trying to make sure that we're listening to each other and we're talking from a place of evidence and data and trying to understand the evidence and data and knowing that sometimes things are not completely clear and we need to collect more evidence in data and we do the best we can until we kind of refine a practice that we're trying to figure out, especially for children who really have significant struggles with reading. I think there's still a lot to learn about how to support those kids for whom reading is just really tough. And our go to things that work for everybody work for these kids, but not fast enough or not efficiently enough, you know, it takes a long time. And so how do we, how do we support those struggling readers in a way? Um, and I think just being open to listening to each other and, and letting the data guide our decision making and not trying not to take it too personally, when something you held as truth evolves into maybe not completely true, like, oh, you know, I'm gonna add a nuance to this and, and add a little bit something different to make it work even better, which is hard. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. It it's hard. Those are good words though. And wise advice, it changes hard. Yeah . Um , um , but keeping the students at the center and, and the evidence at the center is really important. So as we wrap up, I just wonder what advice you might have for those that are just starting on the science of reading journey. Maybe they don't even know, maybe I wanna get a master's , but I don't even know what this means. The science of reading, what would be some good next steps for folks as they start to walk into this world?

Speaker 2:

I think finding community is really powerful. Finding somebody you can talk with who maybe is a little bit further along on the journey than you are, or even just a colleague who wants to go on the journey with you. I know for myself having colleagues that I can bounce ideas off of or can reason things through has been really important throughout my career. And so I think that human need to have community is really important. And the wonderful thing in the science of reading right now is we have a lot of wonderful organizations where we can find community . So my encouragement to somebody just starting is, you know, look to a trusted science of reading source, like the reading league or the international dyslexia association, and get involved with one of those organizations where you can meet some other people who might be able to help you along your journey, kind of guide you to some good resources, some good professional learning opportunities. Don't do it alone, try to find community and , and find people you can bounce ideas off of and grow your learning.

Speaker 1:

That is great advice. And Dr . Murdoch , it was so great to have you on this episode, we will link our listeners to all of the resources you mentioned in the show notes, so they can find them. But I appreciate you so much. And thank you for the work that you're doing, both for teachers, but also for the students across the country.

Speaker 2:

Aw , thank you, Susan. And thank you for all of your good work as well.

Speaker 1:

Thanks so much for listening and helping science of reading the podcast, reach over 2 million downloads in the coming weeks. We're going to feature four of our favorite episodes from our first five seasons for newer listeners. We think these episodes are especially valuable to hear . And for our listeners, who've been with us from season one. We know these conversations will be worth listening to again. Meanwhile, our team is hard at work, putting together something special for season six, stay tuned to this podcast feed for more information about that, and also join our Facebook discussion group at science of reading the community.