January 20, 2009

Today's Quote

Comes from Robert Pondiscio of the Core Knowledge Blog on whether content knowledge is part of most school's reading instruction curriculum:

[R]eading strategies, “child-centered” teaching and differentiated instruction are joined at the hip. When you have heterogeneously grouped classes, all reading self-selected books based on individual interest and reading level, then instruction can no longer be about the text. It has to be about a generalized skill that can be applied to any text. Or any child.


I agree.

Today's predominate balanced literacy instruction precludes teaching content knowledge.

In fact, I'd add the following codicil.

Whole language, reading strategies, “child-centered” teaching and differentiated instruction are joined at the hip. When you have heterogeneously grouped classes, all reading self-selected books based on individual interest and reading level based on readability formulas, then instruction can no longer be about the content and decodability of the text. It has to be about a generalized skill that can be applied to any text. Or any child. And, the instructional advantages conferred by using phonics is greatly diminished.


Let's call it the Pondiscio-DeRosa rule of reading instruction

4 comments:

Dick Schutz said...

Don't call it a "rule." Call it a Law. And find some way to enforce it.

I have two perfecting suggestions.

One.I can't make any sense out of the sentences,

"It has to be about a generalized skill that can be applied to any text. Or any child."

I'd delete. If there is any info there, please explain it to me.

Two: Substitute "the Alphabetic Code" for "using phonics" The Alphabetic Code has all the technical standing of the Genetic Code and the Periodic Table of Elements. The phrase "Using phonics" is education mush-talk. Balanced Literacy "uses phonics" Reading Recovery "uses phonics." The term "phonics" was never linguistically sound, and it has now lost all pedagogical meaning.

KDeRosa said...

I thought I was being presumptuous calling it a rule and now you want to promote it to a law.

I believe what Robert is getting at is that whatever is being taught can not possibly be specific to ant text being read since so each child is reading his own self-selected text. It also can't be specific to any student since each student is at a different level.

I agree with your second point. I keep forgetting that everyone says they teach phonics. However, I think "alphabetic code" suffers from the same problems. What I wanted to say is something along the lines of properly taught and sequenced (synthetic) phonics instruction. I'm bit sure there even is a right term at this point that hasn't been co-opted and abused into meaninglessness.

KDeRosa said...

bit = not in that last paragraph. A three letter typo; quite an accomplishment.

Dick Schutz said...

"I believe what Robert is getting at is that whatever is being taught can not possibly be specific to ant text being read since so each child is reading his own self-selected text. It also can't be specific to any student since each student is at a different level."

That gives the "strategies" more than their due. As a matter of fact, "nothing" is being taught.


Re the last sentence of the The Pondiscio-DeRosa Law.

"Alphabetic Code" has substance and structure. What it suffers from is widespread ignorance of this "content." Most people trivialize the content of the Code to the "Alphabetic Principle," which altogether misses the point.

I'll go along with "properly taught and sequenced (synthetic) phonics instruction." That's a long way of saying "Alphabetic Code" based instruction, but likely the long way is the shortest way given the currently prevailing background information.