PHONICS TALK: The Dorbooks Newsletter
Volume 50 ~ September 2011
by Dolores G. Hiskes


WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
The Reading First Initiative and the Common Core State Standards Initiative have had profound implications on how reading is taught in public schools.

What are they? Are they the same or are they different? Why are they important? Legal mandates of any kind, whether Federal or State, can be very confusing to everyone, including teachers.

Here is a brief history, definition, and description of each initiative which may prove helpful:

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1997 - READING FIRST INITIATIVE

2010 - COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?

IMPLICATIONS FOR PHONICS PATHWAYS

ADOPTION PROCEDURE FOR COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS

A BEDTIME STORY

SEASON'S THOUGHTS

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1997 - READING FIRST INITIATIVE

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In 1997 Congress asked the Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, to convene a National Reading Panel to assess the effectiveness of various approaches used to teach children to read. This extensive research was conducted by experts at major universities nationwide, and included brain imaging studies.

The results from the National Reading Panel were the basis for its 2000 report,
• Teaching Children to Read • and used to craft • Reading First • the initiative that
was part of • No Child Left Behind. •

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2010 COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS

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In 2010 the Common Core State Standards Initiative was formed, a new state-led
effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices
(NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). These
standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators,
and other school and community experts. States voluntarily opt-in, individually.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative standards are designed to provide
teachers and parents with a common understanding of what students are expected
to learn. Consistent content and skills standards will provide appropriate benchmarks
for all students, regardless of where they live. For more information and to see which
states have adopted these standards see http://www.corestandards.org

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WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?

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The specific reading skills recommended in each one of these two reports are the
same, but described differently. For example, what is called â•?explicit phonicsâ• in
one report is called â•?grapheme-phoneme relationshipsâ• in the other, and what is
called â•?spelling rulesâ• in one is called â•?syllable chunkingâ• in the other. This means
that if a reading program is found to be in alignment with one report it will also
fulfill the requirements of the other report.

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IMPLICATIONS FOR PHONICS PATHWAYS

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The content and skills in Phonics Pathways were analyzed for the mandates of the
National Reading Panel and were found to be in complete alignment with all of
the requirements in its 2000 report Reading First. Therefore, it will also meet the
benchmarks of the Common Core State Standards.

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ADOPTION PROCEDURE FOR COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS

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Some states are adopting the Common Core State Standards through their state
boards of education, while others are adopting them through their state legislators.
Ultimately, a teacherâ•?s professional judgement is key to making an approprIate
standards alignment based upon their own stateâ•?s guidelines.

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A BEDTIME STORY

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I was thrilled to receive this wonderful letter a few weeks ago. I call it a bedtime
story because I have been reading it every night just before going to sleep--
my heart sings just to think of being able to help people with such a wide variety
of ages and challenges!

*Many years ago I tried Phonics Pathways with my three-year old and in very
short order he was reading EVERYTHING! At 12 years old, his literary world is
expansive, reading some college level material, simply because he has been
able to read and comprehend so many types of genres for many years. And
he enjoys reading!

*Then I tried Phonics Pathways with our 13 year old who has Down syndrome.
He is currently reading whole sentences, three-syllable words with three
consonant blends, all phonetically. If he attempts to guess the word which he
sometimes does, I gently guide him back to sounding it out and give him a
simple definition of what the word means. He now chooses books and reads
them independently. Because of his success, I am teaching another teen with
Down syndrome (also English is her second language) how to read as well.

*This summer was a dream come true for me: I was asked to teach 16 typical
four to eight-year-old boys and girls, and their progress was amazing! I used
Phonics Pathways and Pyramid.

*Recently I was asked to work with a 69 year old who has great difficulty
reading her entire life. After working with her, I saw that she guessed words,
and her eyes had a hard time reading from left to right. My student has since
become a very dear and precious friend to me; and she reads everything she
gets her hands on. She has completed several books already, for the first time
in her life.* --Rebecca from Georgia

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SEASON'S THOUGHTS

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Summer is gone, and I miss those lovely warm days and evenings. But life
and time do move on, and now Fall is here. Let's learn to appreciate and learn
from all of our experiences, which are colored from bright and happy to dark
and somber, just like beautifully-colored autumn leaves swirling in the forest.
Each season in nature and in life has its own colors, challenges, and beauty.

And so here's to life! May we live it in such a way that, when we come to die,
even the undertaker will be sorry!

Warmly, Dolores
Copyright Dolores G. Hiskes 2011

 

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