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Re: BBC documentary on reading: 'B is for Book'. Why is this worrying?

Posted: Mon Aug 01, 2016 3:47 pm
by Dick Schutz
Hey, guys. "House Husbands" isn't real; it's not even a reality show. It's pretend, and it doesn't even pretend to be a documentary like "B is for Book" was. Of all of the things to be concerned about in International ReadingLand, Delta Goodman appearing as a RR teacher in a few episodes of a popular TV series is way, way, way down on the worry list. The show may add a smidge more luster to the RR brand, but the RR syndicate already has brand identity, and a smidge more won't make a smidge of difference.

TV will be TV and celebrities will be actors. Seems to me a better bet is to wait and watch the show. If they misrepresent reality, use the occasion to punch education and government authorities with a better story--like making RR unnecessary with application of SSP and the UK screening check. Tanya's letter sets up that line; "we tried to stop it; now [and so on.]

Re: BBC documentary on reading: 'B is for Book'. Why is this worrying?

Posted: Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:24 am
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
I appreciate your point, Dick, but I don't entirely agree.

Reading Recovery gains credibility every time it is mentioned whatever the route of the mention.

The 'brand' has become a household name and that in itself is self-perpetuating.

Of course with knowledgeable TV producers, they may well take a storyline of questioning the efficacy of Reading Recovery and introducing an alternative solution to intervention - but I doubt it!

Consider how many people in the teaching and academic community, for many years, have tried to raise the alarm about the underpinning methods in Reading Recovery - and address issues with research involving Reading Recovery. The last thing we need is a popular celebrity being the RR heroine in a popular soap!


Re: BBC documentary on reading: 'B is for Book'. Why is this worrying?

Posted: Wed Aug 03, 2016 4:27 pm
by Dick Schutz
Consider how many people in the teaching and academic community, for many years, have tried to raise the alarm about the underpinning methods in Reading Recovery - and address issues with research involving Reading Recovery.

Right. And consider how successful that effort has been. Reading Wreckovery has modified it's rhetoric just enough to neutralize the "compelling evidence against it" without changing its modus operandi one bit. Reading Wreck is more than an "instructional programme." It's a syndicate that is a cash cow. Professors in major universities get slush money. The universities get income from the course credits embedded in the training. Training leaders get full time administrative jobs. RR teachers escape from the classroom. Regular teachers are relieved of the responsibility of instructing their "worst kids." Schools get grant money. Parents are happy the school is giving their child special attention. Kids get out of the classroom for one-on-one instruction. It's a good racket!

Who pays and suffers? The kids and the citizenry. But kids and citizenry both have "other problems" that are far bigger than a little squabble about reading methods.

Reading Recovery is expensive snake oil. But EdLand is awash with snake oil. RR is a reading wreck for many kids, but soap TV creators and viewers have little to do with the reckless syndicate.

What's our weapon against the syndicate? The UK reading screening check, an easy way to show "these kids are wrecks; we've spent a lot of money on something called 'recovery' and they still can't read."

Re: BBC documentary on reading: 'B is for Book'. Why is this worrying?

Posted: Thu Aug 04, 2016 9:48 am
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
Here's the irony, though, Dick.

In England, as you know, systematic synthetic phonics is now described, more or less, in the statutory national curriculum for English of Key Stages One and Two (the 5 to 11 year olds).

So, every school, even the 'Reading Recovery' schools like the one we see in the BBC documentary 'B is for Book', will be providing some degree of systematic phonics at least in Reception and Year One.

This means, in reality, Reading Recovery schools have a huge advantage by their dose of phonics provision even though they mix this with their prevailing 'reading strategies' amounting to lots of multi-cueing guessing.

This is going to make those schools more effective than they would have been in the past without the ingredient of systematic phonics.

This leaves the slowest-to-learn children very vulnerable. They do get phonics but they also get books to take home to read, or books to read in school, which REQUIRE multi-cueing guessing because they are not designed to practise the alphabetic code knowledge and blending skill to 'get through' those books.

This means some children, many, will struggle and become disillusioned and in danger of being turned off reading at an early stage.

We actually see this with some of the children in the 'B is for Book' documentary when a teacher asks a boy to read his book (whilst she takes copious notes which is typical Reading Recovery practice). We see a 'repetitive text' design of book and we see that the boy is disaffected from the get-go - and then he 'gets' the pattern of the book and just robotically repeats each page whilst changing the key word - according to the picture cue.

In contrast, such children should receive a book than enables him to look for code knowledge he has been taught (and learnt), and apply the sounding out and blending skill, as necessary, which should result in far more positive feelings about their capacity and self-perception 'as a reader'.

In other words, the Reading Recovery approach, and schools in England mixing systematic synthetic phonics but with multi-cueing reading strategies, will get better results, maybe even results which look 'good enough' in the Year One Phonics Screening Check - but there will be children like we see in the documentary who will have been failed in reality and may always be readers who look for cues to get them through the book - never developing a truly competent and automatic decoding technique with close attention to the details in the printed words. Of course as pictures disappear and texts become even more challenging, these children may stall out at a later age but parents and teachers of the older children may not be aware of the real reasons why.

The children who struggle the most with the mixed methods approach will be attributed to 'within child' issues - not the teaching method. The children who struggle the most may well have some challenges personal to them, but these are exacerbated by the mixed methods, multi-cueing guessing strategies approach and by being given books to read independently which they simply cannot read without guessing. The children KNOW that they are guessing and not really reading.

I've just read a wonderful little book written by extremely experienced teacher and tutor, Fran Tray, entitled, 'Clarry and the Little White Cloud - How Clarry learned to read'.

I'm adding it to our 'Research and recommended reading' forum because every parent, teacher and teacher-training - and TV producer - and politician should read this clever and powerful little book.

From a child's perspective and life/school experience, the message is strong - loud and clear - about the damage to children when they set off with wrong reading instruction methods and experiences.

Here is my review and information about 'Clarry and the Little White Cloud':


Re: BBC documentary on reading: 'B is for Book'. Why is this worrying?

Posted: Thu Aug 04, 2016 3:48 pm
by Dick Schutz
It's not a perfect world. While one is saddened by the flaws, the tale of Don Quixote is instructive along with the tale of Clarry. "It's not fair," as children learn very early and receive confirmation daily throughout life.

The reason England's Yr 1 reading Screening Check is a "good thing" is that children who can read all the words on the Check can read "good enough" to take responsibility for themselves individually for what and how they read. For the present, that's as good as it gets.

Re: BBC documentary on reading: 'B is for Book'. Why is this worrying?

Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2016 8:58 am
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
In 'The Conversation' (April 2015), we read:

There are many remedial programmes superior to Reading Recovery ... very-39574

A wait-to-fail system

After a year of trying, many children still haven’t learnt to read. Children with speech-language and cognitive difficulties fare particularly poorly. Some children who are good at memorising words visually seem to be doing okay at first, but unless they learn to sound out, they are soon falling behind.

Reading Recovery originated in New Zealand as a way to help struggling readers in their second year of schooling. However, its content does not specifically target the main areas in which most beginners struggle – speech sounds and their spellings, or phonics.

Each Reading Recovery session involves reading familiar and unfamiliar books, with encouragement to guess from pictures, first letters and context. Students also assemble cut-up sentences, write personal sentences, and do a single phonics activity involving building words with movable letters.

Reading Recovery is an intensive, one-to-one program delivered half an hour a day for 12-20 weeks by specialist teachers. It has been in use in New Zealand now for 30 years, so you’d expect Kiwis to be doing well. However, New Zealand’s results were barely better than Australia’s in the recent international benchmarking exercise.

Reading Recovery is a proprietary program, meaning it can only be accessed by teachers trained and registered to be Reading Recovery teachers. This means it can only be researched with the consent and co-operation of its publisher, using teachers who have already been instilled over months of training with the belief that it is of benefit.

Research exists showing it has a positive effect compared to doing nothing or a mixture of interventions of variable quality. But most things teachers do have a positive effect, so that’s no surprise.

More interesting research would compare Reading Recovery with programs we know are consistent with the reading science, and that we know from well-conducted experiments have significant positive effects. I am not aware of any such research.

Many long-term studies of reading achievement have shown that children who don’t get off to a good start with literacy tend not to catch up. Like a rocket poorly lined up on the launching pad, they can end up very far from where they are meant to be.

Re: BBC documentary on reading: 'B is for Book'. Why is this worrying?

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:25 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
I am so thankful that Alison Clarke, of Spelfabet, has written an outstanding, very important, post - in great detail with video clips - reviewing this BBC documentary.

Her post is so well-written and so important that I have 'pinned' it via the 'General Forum' and cross-referenced it with my original post in response to the BBC documentary (this post).

Here is Alison's 2018 review which provides a real example of the damage flawed teaching can do to children:

This is a BORING book! ... ring-book/

Re: BBC documentary on reading: 'B is for Book'. Why is this worrying?

Posted: Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:27 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
Here is an update to evidence that even in England, teachers and parents continue to be given mixed messages about 'which' programmes and approaches to use for intervention for reading - the slower to learn children:

Where do we witness 'Orwellian Double Guidance' for teachers and parents?