Supplemental Comments on Topics 3 and 4

Here are some supplemental comments on Topics 3 and 4:

As we approach midterm/public commentary being due next Thurs, please be sure to have your references reviewed by me (send the references list in proper APA as soon as possible). You need to be sure to look carefully at the sample public commentary for proper format and use of hyperlinks to cite

You may need to link to the abstract of your scholarly sources for the public commentary since they may not be open to the public, but *do not* use the hyperlinks to the FU library search or your unique access through FU. Strong online sources are useful for the public commentary citations also.

Look at Op/Eds and Commentaries in newspapers for some models, the NYT, Washington Post, The State, The Greenville News, USA Today, etc.

Speak in the public commentary as an expert, use your voice as an educator, but focus on a public audience who is not expert in your topic. Your lit review is an academic piece written for academic so your purpose and audiences will be different in the two writing projects.

Some of my previous Op/Eds for The State are here

Your first full draft (submit as if you will not be allowed to revise) is due as your midterm, *but* you are encouraged to have me provide feedback on drafts before you submit *and* you *must* revise/resubmit after I provide feedback on the one submitted for midterm and resubmit in the final portfolio.

Topic 3

Here are some posts of mine on BL that help clarify what is *should* mean and how it is misused, misunderstood, and incorrectly called a failure:

The Problem with Balanced Literacy

Attack on “Balanced Literacy” Is Attack on Professional Teachers, Research

Did Balance Literacy Fail to Teach Your Child to Read?

Topic 4

I usually emphasize the article “How Language Is Learned” by Kiel because she stresses the holistic nature of literacy.

I urge you all to consider how it is *efficient* to address parts of literacy in isolation (vocabulary, phonics, grammar, etc.) but that starting with parts and building to a whole is *ineffective* because we are not literate in pieces but with all the aspects of literacy working somewhat simultaneously.

Here are some posts on direct instruction that I think can help you better understand what we mean about teaching holistically with each student’s needs in mind:

Reclaiming “Direct Instruction”

Everyone Learns to Read from Direct Instruction

Beyond Caricatures: On Dewey, Freire, and Direct Instruction (Again)

Revisiting Content and Direct Instruction

Supplemental Comments on Topics 1 and 2

Here are some supplemental comments on Topics 1 and 2:

Topic 1: Historical Perspective

I wrote a biography of Lou LaBrant for my doctoral dissertation and was fortunate to interview Louise Rosenblatt during that work. I think teachers of literacy should have a strong awareness of the history of the field of literacy and their work is central to that.

A frustrating fact of teaching reading/literacy is that we have known how to teach reading/literacy for a hundred years, but have rarely put that practice into our classrooms because teachers have very little professional autonomy and teaching in impossible teaching/learning conditions (that make teaching well almost impossible).

LaBrant wrote about the “considerable gap” between research/evidence and practice 70-80 years ago and that remains true today.

Bureaucracy, depending on reading/literacy programs (and not teacher expertise), and misleading Reading War arguments sit at the roots of that gap.

Ironically, advocates have attacked progressives, whole language, and balanced literacy with “back to basic” and phonics propaganda throughout those 100 years, and it is important to understand that part of that attack is grounded in a desire to keep teacher (mostly women) autonomy at a minimum, to keep teaching de-professionalized.

Progressive philosophy/theory, whole language, and balanced literacy all have put teacher professionalism *first* and student needs *first*, and that doesn’t fit into formal bureaucratic schooling that is hierarchical and efficient (depending on conformity of large groups of students and teachers).

Now here are the complications:

  • Measurements of reading/literacy (test scores) are *mostly* reflections of socio-economic status, race, gender and have almost *no correlation* with instructional practices (how students are taught).
  • Claims of progressivism, whole language, or balanced literacy “failing” tend to reflect misunderstanding the above bullet and never examine *if* teachers are actually practicing progressivism, whole language, or balanced literacy. See for example
  • Because classrooms are way too large (student/teacher ratio) and schools have become focused on standards/tests, teachers too often are held accountable for implementing reading/literacy *programs* and not teaching individual students.

Here are some blog posts that may help:

Topic 2: NPR/Science of Reading

Understanding the NRP (central part of NCLB):

The current “back to basics”/phonics (dyslexia) version of the Reading War is driven by one mantra, the “science of reading.” It sounds compelling but it is deeply misguided and misleading.


Peer Review: Public Commentary EDU 640


Candidates will identify a current issue in literacy education that is misunderstood by the public and then draft a public commentary (750-1250 words) with hyperlinks to research/evidence to clarify the topic. Multiple drafts and revisions are required for course credit.

[ ] Sample formatting for submitting public commentary.

[ ] Paragraphing

[ ] Specific and engaging opening; teacher narrative

  • Clear focus
  • Establishes teacher professional authority
  • Audience established (and maintained)
  • Misunderstanding established with evidence

[ ] Subheads and effective organization; subheadings fully developed

[ ] Hyperlink citation

  • credible, valid sources
  • all key points supported

[ ] Terms and education-specific language fully defined

[ ] Specific and engaging closing

  • framing
  • call to action?