Tuesday 12 July 2016

Best books for literacy and numeracy educators

Teaching a person who cannot read, to read, is an amazing experience.  It has been one of the highs in my work. Not only is it wonderful to see learners begin to decode words (magic!) and make sense of text, but there is also a huge sense of accomplishment for the tutor. Unfortunately, many tutors struggle to know what to do, and how to do it, so they wing it with activities.  Random reading activities simply don't cut it when it comes to teaching reading, particularly for those who struggle. Instruction needs to be approached in a highly focused and systematic way.  Also unfortunate is the fact that for many people who struggle to learn to read, another failure is devastating to their confidence, and in many cases they begin to believe that they cannot learn to read.  In some cases they attribute this to a fixed condition. Yet, research suggests that in almost all cases the problem is with the instruction, not a learning disability.   

To the rescue 

'Speech to Print' by Louisa Moats is 'the' book in my opinion that every person who teaches reading has to read.  In fact, I'm a little dubious about even recommending it because up to now it has been my secret weapon - but its time to share. This book teaches the hard skills you need in regard to orthography and phonology. Trust me, if you are a literacy tutor get it. I used to spend an hour a day one-on-one with adults who were learning to read, and this book was one of my main guides.  Did the adults learn to read?  YES.   

If you are teaching people to read you will read it multiple times and it'll become a well used book.  Mine is dog-eared, stained with coffee and scribbled in - a perfect book. Additionally, if you are in the literacy business but not necessarily directly teaching people to read, you should be aware of the contents.

It is also suitable for home-educators teaching your children to read.   

Does it teach hard skills? Yes.
Will it change my life? No.
Will it help me to help my learners?  Yes.
Is it practical? Yes.
Is it all I need to teach reading? Not by a long-shot unfortunately, but it is a big piece of the pie.

I guarantee that if you read this book, you will agree that every person teaching others to read should also do so. 


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