Science of Reading: The Podcast

S3-03. Deconstructing the Rope: Decoding with Louisa Moats

February 10, 2021 Amplify Education Season 3 Episode 3
Science of Reading: The Podcast
S3-03. Deconstructing the Rope: Decoding with Louisa Moats
Show Notes Transcript

Join Dr. Louisa Moats, President of Moats Associates Consulting, as she unwinds decoding, a strand of Scarborough’s Reading Rope. In the third episode of our Deconstructing the Rope series, Louisa highlights the significance of decoding in the science of reading and discusses the value of becoming students of our own language. She also mentions the reciprocal relationship between decoding and encoding and why both are essential to provide effective phonics instruction to children in the classroom.

Quotes:

“We need to be students of our own language so that when we accept the responsibility of teaching kids how it works, we’re very comfortable.”

“We have much more insight into how kids learn any language-based academic skill, not only from neuroscience but also cognitive, developmental, linguistic, and educational intervention research.”

Want to discuss the episode? Join our Facebook group Science of Reading: The Community.

Speaker 1:

How do we help students become confident readers and what do all our students need? So they can enjoy reading success. Especially during this unprecedented time, welcome to season three of science, of reading the podcast. I'm your host, Susan Lambert. This season, we're celebrating the 20th anniversary of Scarborough's reading rope. A model that helps us understand the complexities of learning to read and helps us focus on evidence based practices. Each episode will cover elements of the model, what it means and how it should impact classroom instruction. We've lined up a dream team of science, of reading experts. We think you'll really love the science of reading movement continues to grow and at a time that is more important than ever it's vital. We focus on research based practices to deliver classroom instruction that allows students to learn. If they aren't learning, we need to examine our practices. We may not know what changes are coming next, but we do know we need to stay connected and learning from each other will get us through it. The more we learn and listen, the more we'll be prepared to lead. Our students are counting on us. If you're not familiar with Louisa Motz and her impact on the science of reading, you'll want to be her seminal book. Speech to print is now in its third edition, just released in 2020. For me, this conversation was such a fan girl moment. Dr. Motz really helps break down concepts that often can feel overwhelming and explains their importance in clear digestible language. It was such an honor to speak with her, and we're very excited to bring this conversation to you. Make sure you check out the show notes for connected resources enjoy well. Hello, Louisa . Thank you so much for joining us on today's episode.

Speaker 2:

It's my pleasure to join you

Speaker 1:

Well with all of our guests. We like to first talk about how you became interested in early literacy or early reading, and you're a leading expert. So I think our listeners would be really curious about your journey.

Speaker 2:

Uh , well it was a long unwinding road <laugh> , but , um, and filled with , uh, serendipitous opportunities for which I'm very grateful. So the first way that I became interested was , uh , that right out of Wellesley college, I was hired to be the secretary in a , in the first neuropsychology department in Boston at the new England medical center. And I didn't know anything about anything. I had no background in education, no background in brain science, no nothing, but my boss , um, thought that he could make better use of me as an employee. If he taught me how to give the neuropsychological test battery to the clients we were serving in the hospital. So after a few months he put a white coat on me and a couple of other young women and taught us how to give these tests to people who had suffered neurological injuries. Most of them , uh , in, in adulthood. But we also had children who were being referred for unexplained learning difficulties. And some of those children had known neurological conditions, but others just had learning problems. And , um, uh, in those days , uh, all we knew how to do was look for quote , minimal brain dysfunction, to try to explain why someone was having trouble learning to read and write. So in that context, I first encountered kids who were struggling with these basic academic skills. And I was particularly fascinated with the ones who couldn't read or spell. And then I went on and became licensed as a teacher and taught in various settings all the while, knowing that I didn't know what I was doing and that my preparation programs while well, reputed were quite useless. And I remember for a long time feeling like a Charla that the students I was charged with helping weren't really being helped by me. Uh, and I felt that way in , uh , was a public school then a , a state run program for kids with complex problems and then a day treatment program after that. And , uh , eventually I got into a doctoral program at the Harvard ed school in my early thirties. And it was at that point that I began to really gain some insight into what was going on. Um, but you know, leading up to that point, I knew that I didn't know how to explain what was going on with the kids. I felt for the kids. I heard the stories of anguish from the kids and their families. And , um, I think it was that experience of being , uh, unknowingly, ignorant, and then knowingly ignorant for so long while I had professional responsibilities, that is the basis for my lifelong dedication to equipping teachers with the knowledge that will indeed empower them. Um, so that, that was a really formative experience, I would say.

Speaker 1:

Wow. And you must have felt exceedingly frustrated, just hear , hearing me, hearing you talk about that really, you know, not knowing what to do and knowing that you didn't know what to do.

Speaker 2:

Yes. And as my career has gone on , uh , you know, in our present work , uh , with our course in , in teaching teachers, how to teach reading and spelling the most frequent comment that we get from those who go through it is why didn't anybody teach me these things before? Um, this is all new information. Uh , so the empathy, I feel empathy for those teachers. Um, and then , uh , well, after my doctoral program, I spent 15 years in private practice and that was just , uh , such an informative experience because I was in a little town in Vermont, but saw clients from all over new England and , uh, several thousand of them over that period. And what struck me <laugh> at the end of that 15 years was basically the same thing, cuz I kept writing these elaborate reports with test results and I'd end up saying, will somebody please teach this student how to read? <laugh> , you know , that's what they need is an informed teacher. And I , um, that also , uh, you know, just seeing how the kids presented in a clinical setting, mm-hmm <affirmative> with a whole long battery of tests and then realizing that it was the reading and spelling and writing tests that were the most informative , uh, and the most , um, pivotal for deciding what to recommend. So ,

Speaker 1:

So in that context , um , I'm gonna just ask you one more question here. How have you seen things change in our current environment from what it was like back then where you were doing that clinical experience?

Speaker 2:

Well, I like that question because it forces me to recognize that over the last 50 years that I've been involved in this field 50 plus there really has been progress. We are not as totally ignorant as we were when I began. We have this body of neuroscientific work that has informed us about how the brain learns to read. And that's been , um, so critical for , um, I guess , uh , uh , marrying , uh , some of the work important work and the hard sciences with educational practice. So we know much better why some aspects of instruction that traditionally have been shown to be effective. Um, we know better much better why those practices are effective. And also we have much, much more insight into how kids learn any language based academic skills , um, not only from neuroscience, but also cognitive developmental research and linguistic research and educational intervention research. We , we, we have a body of information to go on now that we certainly had none of when I started out. And there's a convergence across these different lines of inquiry that is , um, uh, <affirmative> , uh, you know, it represents a consensus about the most important components and principles of instruction , um, that we can hang our hat on.

Speaker 1:

Hmm . That is really exciting. And you know, you've been involved in helping translate that for years for folks. Um, and just recently last year, actually the third edition of your book, speech to print was released. And, and I'm gonna read you , uh , a couple of quotes from that book and I'd love you to respond to them after we read them.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

So you wrote even well educated adults often do not know exactly what goes into speaking, understanding words, using phonics, spelling, interpreting sentences, or organizing a composition, even though they use these language structures every day . And then you go on to say very few adults unless they are studying and teaching the material can explain why we double the consonant letters in words, such as misspell dinner and accommodate, or why there is a silent E on the end of the word, love a deeper explicit level of knowledge may not be necessary for teachers to read the words, but it will be necessary to explain pronunciation and spelling where the words came from and how spelling is related to meaning. So why do you think it is important, so important for teachers to have that necessary knowledge?

Speaker 2:

Well, it's , um, uh, very empowering to not only be comfortable explaining how our complex writing system works and how language works both at an oral level and at , uh , uh , the level of the written word. Uh , but also if one has those insights into how language works , um, and how the print system represents speech, then , um , as , as a , as teachers, we can interpret kids errors and kids confusions and kids questions with much more insight. So it allows us to relate to the kids and , um, and not waste time giving them useless feedback <laugh> , which is very common. Yeah. And, and also , um, to build confidence in the kids that we can see what's going on inside their heads when they don't understand, or don't remember, or don't connect sounds with symbols or don't , um, you know, decode or spell , uh, uh , with, with, with the knowledge that they need. And , um, uh , I have a particular passion for spelling error analysis. I did my dissertation on spelling error analysis because of the written word shows us what's in the kid's brain, right? If , if you, if , and , and if you have a linguistic eye as it were, or a li linguistic lens for looking at what is prompting the kids' behavior, it's, it gives you a direct , uh , uh , path to , um, kind of the next steps that you need to go through in order to help that student grasp why the word is the way it is. And remember it because , uh , what I'm saying , um , involves another , uh , uh , kind of principle of teaching and learning that is important, which is that we tend to remember what we understand. And I think I got that from Daniel Wilham <laugh> , but we tend to remember what we understand, and that goes for this written code that we all have to learn how to read and spell as well as the more global concepts that we deal with in teaching comprehension. So , um, I think we can, we can kind of unveil the mystery of print for kids who are trying, you know, the , the student who isn't good at this stares at the written word and hopes that there's some magic filter, that's going to allow them to imprint these words on the back of their eyeballs so that they can be remembered. Yeah . Um, but the , that, that is fruitless , um, and that it's fruitless and it then reinforces the bad habit of kids guessing from context and <affirmative> and , um, the way to help them get a handle on the written word is to show them piece by piece how the written word represents spoken language, and that occurs at several different levels of language organization.

Speaker 1:

Hmm . Well, on our last episode, we really sort of kicked off a little bit by talking about this word recognition in general, what it is and what it means, but we really wanted to invite you on to talk specifically about the strand of decoding. So to sort of extend what you were talking about. And I know you're gonna share with us the , the reciprocal you already did about decoding and encoding. Um, but, but let's start with, with sort of the decoding strand. And can you help us understand exactly what it is and why it's so important , uh , to teach that explicitly?

Speaker 2:

Um, well , uh, it's important to teach it explicitly because a lot of kids can't figure it out on their own. Some, a few kids do a minority of kids do figure it out on their own, but the vast, well, I would say, okay, two or the middle third will do it much better. And more quickly, if it's explained to them the bottom third really needs to have it explained because they do not , uh, to <affirmative> , uh, teach themselves very readily at all. And unless we teach them explicitly how it's working, they are sty. I mean, I've had adults tell me that they had to flunk out of school in eighth grade, who would say, he said to me, I could never figure out what them alphabets was for and, you know, statements like that are just heart rendering, because they're so emblematic of what we know from research that staring at these alphabet symbols does not guarantee that they're going to register in the person's brain as a representation of sounds , uh, uh , either phone names or syllables or meaningful parts of words, more themes , or the grammatical units that are represented in print. Um, so all of that needs to be explained and it needs to be , uh, it needs to be taught also , uh , especially in the case of English, because English is a more complex representational system than some of the others on the earth. <laugh> , um, it takes longer to learn because of it , the , the complexity of the relationship between speech and print and the multilayered representation of language. So some languages, for example, are very transparent alphabetic languages, where if you learn a sound for each symbol, you can pretty much decode the words in English. That's not the case. It's not that direct it's. Um , so, you know, stop me if I'm getting too detailed, so, oh, no, no , not at all. Okay. Let me just stay on this, please . Topic of why we need to teach it. Yeah . And then the heart of reading fluency is automatic word recognition. Mm-hmm , <affirmative> , it's not, you know, reading , uh, and , and is hideous part of this is that it's so hidden from view what the brain has to do. So hidden from view in the proficient reader. So you and I read automatically, we look at words, our brain processes them in milliseconds, our eyes scan the text. Uh , we register almost every letter that we look at our eye looks ahead to process the phrases. We put it all together really fast, but how do we do that? We do that because the individual words are automatized. We have what's called a site vocabulary, and I'm using that term differently from the way it's often used in reading instruction to refer to irregular words. But the site vocabulary is the autumn, is that all those words we recognize without hesitation, without conscious effort when we've become proficient. So it, it , you can't learn to read without that. And , um, fluency is , uh, driven by these bottom up processes of first recognizing the letters then the graphings, which are the representational units for the phoning in the spoken word. And then in addition, we have in English , uh , re uh , conventions for representing syllable patterns and syllable units. And then we have , uh, spellings for common morph themes or meaningful parts that are quite standard and predictable in spite of the fact that the pronunciation of those spelling units shifts when we have complex words with prefixes and roots and suffixes .

Speaker 1:

Hmm . And so you mentioned , um , several layers of, of language in , in English. And , um, what, what , what would you say to people that say, well, it's so complex to teach that English is just completely irregular. There's no way to actually teach it.

Speaker 2:

Mm-hmm <affirmative> <laugh>

Speaker 1:

Is that a myth?

Speaker 2:

Uh , well it, oh, that's a myth. I mean, that , it's so irregular, that's a myth and people who throw up their hands and, and , and say to kids, oh, there's just no reason for that. You just have to remember it. <laugh>, mm-hmm <affirmative> well, that's really unhelpful because there , um, I like to say five major angles to, from which we can approach the written symbol system in English and a really good teacher will be comfortable drawing on any of those five angles to explain why words are the way they are. And there was a study done many years ago that was funded by the federal government at the time to resolve this issue about whether English was predictable or not, whether the spelling system was predictable and I still cite it. Um, it found that 50% of the words in English are predictable. If you know the pH name , graphine correspondences alone, and you don't know anything else, you can spell 50% of the 20,000 most common words in English. And then you can spell another 34% in addition , uh , with one error , uh , usually on the vowel because the vowels have the least predictability mm-hmm <affirmative> , and then you can spell another 10% accurately if you know, the morphine structures and the way those morphine are spelled, and, or you take into account the origin of the word in terms of the language that it came from, or it's etymology, because words that come from their Latin based have different spelling, conventions than words that come from our Anglosaxon base or our , um, uh , fr uh , old French base and all of these base languages with the fed vocabulary and spelling conventions into English , um, add to our ability to explain why words are the way they are. And the example, the simplest example to give is the use of the diagram C in English spelling. So in the Anglosaxon based words, we typically use C H for the sound, right . That's what we first teach to kids is ch as in chat. But if a word is a French origin, ch can be used for the sound sh as in machine or , um, uh, chagrin. And if the word is of Greek origin, it may use C H to spell the sound as in character, or , um, uh, uh , uh , let me see. Um, if we know their ch

Speaker 1:

I'm trying to think of one, and I

Speaker 2:

Can't, there are lots of them, there are lots of them , um, uh , probably scholar, although there's probably a German connection there too , um, school, which probably came more from German. Um, but , uh, um, let's see, I'm drawing a blank when I'm usually very fluent on this. <laugh> , let's talk about something else and I'll think of more examples.

Speaker 1:

It's a great example, though, of , um, of the sound of the sound spelling patterns and, and the etymology of that and how that's so important for kids to be able to learn. So, as you were describing that, it sounds a little to me like , uh, the, the predictability and the importance of teaching explicit instruction, folks often talk about systematic. So, you know, that, where does the systematic element of teaching that phonics instruction or the sound spelling patterns? Like, what does that mean? Because I think there's some confusion about that as

Speaker 2:

Well. Yeah. Okay. Well, to me, the, the term systematic has , um, two equally important meanings. Uh , one is that we teach a , a, any element in relation to the overall system of representation. So if I'm teaching kids about , um, uh, let's see , um , diagrams

Speaker 1:

Mm-hmm ,

Speaker 2:

<affirmative> in English, I want to teach the, the larger concept that graphemes represent pH names , and graphemes are often more than one letter. So the common dye graphs of T H S H C H w H and NG are examples of graphings where more than one letter is used to represent a phony. Then I also want to , uh , teach those , um, in relation to a scope and sequence that's been laid out where all the key correspondences have been mapped out in an order that makes sense from easier to more difficult. So we know, for example, if we're teaching systematically, we're going to teach simple syllables before complex syllables. And what do I mean by that? A simple syllable has single consonants before after a vow and a complex syllable has consonant what we call consonant blends , um, before after a vowel. And then I would have, if I were the designer of this program, I'd have to ask the question, well, where does the concept of a diagram fit in? Do I want to try to teach it before I teach about consonant blends? Or do I want to try to teach it as part of the concept of a simple syllable where a word like , uh , that T H a T is considered a simple syllable because it has a consonant , a vowel and a consonant. And now here, I know that our listeners will say, what do you mean th is two consonants , isn't it? And I would say, no, actually not the logic that I'm talking about it has to do with consonants being a class of speech sounds and vowels being class of speech sounds. And if we're going to teach the code in a way that has real logic to it and can be taught systematically, we have to kind of choose an approach here. And for me, teaching kids that graphings represent the , the sounds in speech is the most potent logic, because that's the way written language was invented in the first place. Yeah . It was invented to represent speech. We don't learn to talk from reading. We already know how to talk. We have to learn this simple system that is mapped onto that's bootstrapped onto speech.

Speaker 1:

Hmm . And all reading is a language braced endeavor, right? So everything starts from speech

Speaker 2:

That's right. And the other aspect of being systematic is that the instruction follows routines and lesson format that the student comes to count on and be comfortable with. And the teacher comes to count on and be comfortable with. So I , um, the , the word systematic is coupled with explicit. Yeah . In most of our descriptions of what structured language teaching is, but explicit means you tell the student what you want them to understand. You, you put it in the context of the whole system that they're learning. Um , for example , um, here's a good example in our, in , in , in my approach, the speech to print approach, I have a chart of all the vow sounds in English. I use the term vow for a type of speech sound that is the nucleus of a syllable. And we lay it all out in a chart. Here are all the vows, and here are all the ways that we spell them. Uh , and all of this can be taught. It's kind of like showing the kids, the multiplication chart. Now you don't have them learn every bit of that all at once as if it were just a smorgasboard, there's an approach and a system to teaching that information. So I think of our code as the same thing. Uh , we can lay it all out in these charts, show the kids, how the phoning graphing correspondence system works. Correspondent system works, teach it an element at a time and then move on to , uh , syllable combinations and more themes eventually.

Speaker 1:

Hmm . That's great. And, and when you talk about it that way, I'm, I'm sure our listeners can relate to this idea of, especially if they're teaching phonics of the explicit instruction of what that sound , those sound spelling patterns are. Can you talk about the reciprocal relationship then of why it's important to teach end coding at the same time we're teaching decoding?

Speaker 2:

Okay. Well, there's several reasons. Um, uh , one thing is just , uh , simply the evidence , uh , in intervention research and instructional research, that if you teach kids how to decode and your lesson includes a spelling component or an end coding component. In other words, if I'm teaching about diagrams , uh, I, if I have , uh , a lesson component that asks the kids to write those constructions and those words that they're , they've just practiced reading, I will get a better result. The kids will learn better and they will learn more quickly. And they will also of course, transfer what I'm teaching them about reading to their spelling. So that's the first line of evidence, but the second is, has to do more with the psychology of learning words when we learn words. Um, and I , if we're going to achieve automaticity, and there's some research evidence supporting this, if we're going to achieve automatic word recognition in reading, we need to have stored in our memories, our word form areas , um, a complete and accurate , uh, uh , memory trace for the word. And that has to be, it has to be accurate to be retrieved quickly for recognition in print. So it's two sides of the same coin and think of this image of the word that's stored in the word form area as , um, uh, the underpinning for , uh, automatic recognition in reading. And then total recall for spelling. Now you may ask, well, what's the difference , um, in that word form area, if someone can read a word but not spell it well, that means that if they can read the word, but not spell it, that that image of the word in their memory is a little bit incomplete that , uh , they may have what we call a partial word forum image in their brains enough to make a match when they look at the word in, in , in print. But it's not quite detailed enough to recall for spelling. Um, and I always start out presentations when I do them , uh , live anyway. <laugh> , um , I give a spelling test. Oh , and I say, okay, everybody write the word accommodate and write the word commitment and write the word iridescence. Those are my three favorites. <laugh> because they all have double letters in them for one they're hard <laugh> . Yeah. And then I say, okay. And then I show them the right way to spell. And then I say, okay, how many of you made at least one error on the words that I gave you and 90% of the hands go up. Hmm . And what I'm illustrating is that , um, it is, it is easier to recognize a word in print because you can recognize it. Even if your word memory is a little bit degraded. In other words, you just, you're not sure. Okay. When you see the name of the town Monterey in California, and then you're asked to write that you're not sure whether there are two RS in there, because you've also seen the word Monterey with one R in it for some other place. And what is it? And you can read it. Right. Right . So , um, spelling is harder than reading for that reason. You have to have an absolutely detailed and exact memory for all those letters in the word. But even if you don't, you can still make a match between the approximation of the letter group with the known word in speech. It's a fascinating thing. Mm .

Speaker 1:

And would you say then that spelling actually lags as we're , as kids are learning to read spelling, then would lag a little bit behind reading or recognition of the spelling patterns in print.

Speaker 2:

Okay . That is so, so for, for me, as I look at the data, we can teach spelling along with word recognition in first grade, without having to separate them very much. Mm-hmm <affirmative> , but after first grade, the pace of learning and reading, if kids are on track and they have the basic tools of phon name , graphing correspondences, and they're beginning to read words with a couple of syllables and they have a pretty good , um , automatic, a word recognition, condition, vocabulary , uh , being , uh , built up of, you know, hundreds of words while spelling is harder. So the pace has to be slower. There has to be more practice. There has to be more emphasis on the higher utility words , um, be Hmm . Um, because storing those words in that word form area for totally accurate retrieval takes more practice. And , um, um, yes, it's harder.

Speaker 1:

Hmm . That's interesting. Let's go back to this, this idea of like, when we're teaching our kindergarten, first grade kids, maybe just in first grade , um, how can, you know, if there's a first grade teacher out there listening, how could a first grade teacher actually use the spelling process to help them understand what, what their students know about the reading process can , is that possible?

Speaker 2:

Well, I think so. I , I would recommend always that teachers give a spelling inventory to kids to see what they are processing about the spoken word that they're trying to learn. And especially at that level for kids, the task is taking a known word in their vocabulary. You hope mm-hmm <affirmative> , unless they're a student who doesn't know English now that's another matter <laugh> but say the word is in their vocabulary, or sounds enough like a word that they know that they're trying to take that spoken word and match it up with print and what their spelling will show us is if they are not paying enough attention to the actual sequence of sounds in the spoken word, in order to make that match between the phonies and the graphings. So in the early stages of learning to spell what kids typically can do when they're writing is they can write down what I call the salient sounds in speech, the ones that stand out, and those are the first, usually the first sound in the word. And then if there's a prominent other continent that will stand out, but the vowels are very elusive and kids learn the vowels more slowly, but you can see that if you give them a little spelling inventory. Yeah . And you ask them to spell the words with the short vows, you can tell whether they even put a vowel in the word at all. Um, or they put some other letter in as a placeholder for the vow. I mean, you can tell a lot about what they're picking out of the speech sound stream to ask them when you ask them to spell. And then that in turn is useful, because then you can say to yourself, if you're the teacher, you can say, oh , I need to practice oral language segmentation of the, all the two or three speech sounds in a spoken word. And I need to identify the vow sound by its place and manner of articulation. I need to focus on matching that single sound with the letter that represents it. I need to practice with this student. I need to practice discriminating. That vow sound that I'm teaching from one with, with which it can be confused and so on. So you can take your cues from looking at what the student is writing.

Speaker 1:

Interesting. It spelling is a little misunderstood. And, and if you would ask teachers about dictation that even has a , like that has a horrible connotation and gets a bad rap, but it's kind of important.

Speaker 2:

It's very important. It's like , um, I'm all for it, but it should be, it should be used as a form of practice and rehearsal, not as some kind of punishment, right. It should be used to show kids. Uh , and, and someone, I, I wrote a spelling program with , uh , a number of years ago who was a first grade teacher. Mm-hmm <affirmative> , that's the way, oh, her kids were so good at spelling and writing, but she had did dictations with all of the words and patterns that they had been taught. And it was a routine in the classroom and boy, those kids learned , um , and it's a very sort of old fashioned traditional thing to do, but gosh, it's really important to give kids the opportunity to practice transcription. It's the transcription of oral language into written language and give them immediate feedback if they're not sure they make a mistake, show them the right way and have them practice it again.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. We could talk for probably more hours about how important that fluent and that fluency element is to writing as much as fluency is to reading mm-hmm

Speaker 2:

<affirmative> yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Um, one more question for you related to the use of text or practice, right? So we're not just teaching these sound spelling patterns in isolation. Um, talk to us a little bit about the importance of using connected texts. That's actually decodable.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, well, decodable text , um, it's not dangerous, <laugh>

Speaker 1:

It gets a bad rap too.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And it's not intended to be a substitute for great literature, and it's not even that great for as a vehicle for teaching vocabulary and comprehension. You use other kinds of books for those purposes, the purpose of decodable text and it's most useful at the first grade level , um, is simply to give kids practice applying the single word reading skills that , that they have been taught in the lesson. So a good lesson format begins with phony awareness and then intro introduction of the , the decoding concept, then guided practice, more independent practice, and then reading those words in connected text, because without that practice , um, kids don't automatize, you know, it's , you need to practice to automatize word recognition and, and then , uh , uh , combining words into phrases. Um, and it's a , a habit, especially in the beginning phases of instruction. And these days, I guess people are beginning this more at the kindergarten level, but especially in first grade, if the student learns the habit of relying on the code to read new words, and the student becomes proficient at that, they are on their way to being able to read. Hmm. It , it , it it's the key. Um, and , uh , decodable text is simply a , a practice tool. Um, now I just want to add one thing is you can't take , um, a different kind of program based on leveled readers or something like that, or the , you know, the cuing systems and patch it up with decodeable text that doesn't work because decodable text is supposed to be the culmination of a systematic approach to teaching the code. And it's useful only in so far as you have already taught kids how to read those words in the text and you, when they come to a word in the text and are hesitating you remind them, okay , what does th say again, or what does it represent? Uh , what does th represent? Um , and what is the vowel in that word? Now let's read that word now let's keep on reading. You never would say, now look at the pictures and guess, you know, what would make sense there? That that would be the opposite of what we're trying to get at.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. That's, that's great. Thank you for that. Um, uh , yeah, some MIS some myths and misunderstandings, I think that we have we've targeted and hit on. So I really appreciate the conversation about the importance of this. Um , and it feels like we've come a , a little full circle here. So I wonder , um , in closing, what important messages you would like to leave our listeners with?

Speaker 2:

Well, the most important for me is that everyone might enjoy really studying the content , uh, that is if we can all be , um, uh, students of our own language. That's the first thing we need to be students of our own language, so that when we accept the responsibility of teaching kids, how it works, we're very comfortable. We're comfortable with the terminology we're comfortable with, especially phenology and how that works, what it's all about. It's not the same thing as phonics. And if all of us who are, I mean, anything , um, policy makers , uh , administrators , uh , curriculum designers, authors of tax , um, and of course all the teachers, if we can take the time to do our homework and study, I mean, that for me was so liberating when I finally did study language. That's what happened for me in graduate school, at the doctoral level that opened my eyes to what was going on and ha gave me the tools to appreciate research from then on. Um, so I would say that's, that's number one, you know, let's all do our homework and enjoy it, become students of our language and understand how to explain things and give kids the tools to think about not only words, but also sentences and, and , and the structure of text. And then when we have that, we can be good guides , um, for, for our students. And then I would say , um, when , when we're looking at the , the claims that are out there and the reviews, people write about instructional programs and so on, just take some time to look under the hood , you know, look under the hood and see what are they teaching. Um, and does it match up with really good analysis of language, really good, explicit systematic instruction, really good information for the teachers and the students. Here we go. You go ,

Speaker 1:

That's great. And, you know, I think we know from research too, that the majority of our kids can learn to read if we provide them the right kind of instruction.

Speaker 2:

No question about it. Got it . Mm-hmm

Speaker 1:

<affirmative> that's great. Well, Louisa Motz thank you so much for joining us. It has been an honor and a pleasure.

Speaker 2:

Well, my pleasure as well, and thank you so much for inviting me to do this discussion with you.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for listening and keep your feedback coming. Do you wanna learn more, be sure to stay connected by subscribing on your favorite podcast app. Join our Facebook discussion group science of reading the community. Visit amplify.com to check out all our free literacy events and upcoming science of reading symposium until next time, keep the hope, take the action and stay in touch.