A Truly Innovative Reading Solution

Reading Theory

 

Read Right's Success is Grounded In New Assumptions

Which is more important to excellence in reading: Each and every word on the page, or all of the complex cognitive processing that the human brain must do to make sense of text? For decades, when students developed a reading problem, they were assisted with methods that focused their attention on the letters and the words on the page. “Sound out that word” and "what is that word" are common directions and approaches associated with most reading intervention programs. 

Read Right tutoring virtually never uses these phrases. Instead, our tutoring methods focus on "implicit procedural learning" in the context of passage reading. The following comparison of assumptions explains why Read Right tutors do not use the common phrases: 

 

Read Right Assumptions

Conventional Assumptions

Assumption 1: The Source of Reading Problems

NEURAL NETWORKS

Neural networks guide all of the processes we perform—walking, talking, reading, bicycle riding, etc. Reading problems are caused when an individual builds a flawed neural network for guiding the integrated process of reading, which requires simultaneous coordination of numerous neural systems. Rather than a simple process of identifying individual words, reading is a complex process performed by the brain.

BASIC SKILLS

Reading problems are caused by lack of explicit knowledge in basic skills. These include:

  • phonemic awareness
  • phonics and decoding
  • word identification and vocabulary
  • fluency
    and
  • comprehension (last on the list)

 

Assumption 2: Addressing Reading Problems

IMPLICIT PROCEDURAL LEARNING

The only way to eliminate a reading problem is to compel the brain to remodel the neural network that, in struggling readers, is guiding the reading process inappropriately. The challenge posed by reading is that it is a bit like an iceberg: you can see the words on the page (they are explicit or above the surface), but you cannot see exactly what the brain is doing to make sense of text (the activity is implicit or below the surface).

Bicycle riding is a great example of an activity that requires "implicit" operation. The term used in this context simply means that you are consciously aware of certain aspects of bicycle riding (you must simultaneously push the pedals and steer), but you are not aware of all of the discrete adjustments that your brain and body must make in order to (1) keep you upright on the bike, (2) maintain balance, and (3) keep moving forward. No one can "tell" you how to do it (explicit instruction); you have to figure it out for yourself as you sit on the seat and make attempt after attempt until you are successful (implicit procedural learning). 

Fortunately, brains are "plastic," meaning: it is readily possible to build and remodel neural networks to guide the processes we perform. This means that, with few exceptions, most individuals can become authentically excellent readers. It requires an environment that compels the student’s brain to remodel the neural network through experimentation. You cannot tell a struggling reader how to fix the problem, but you can provide a highly structured environment in which the right kind of experimentation is performed over and over again, until they finally figure out the implicit strategies that work!

EXPLICIT TEACHING AND LEARNING

Teachers must bring students to mastery by explicitly teaching skills and strategies required for successful reading. When students have mastered these discrete skills and strategies, they will have become excellent readers.

 

Assumption 3: The Main Event of Reading

ANTICIPATING MEANING

THE READ RIGHT VIEW:
Anticipating the author’s message is the foundational strategy that excellent readers use when they read with excellence—not individual word identification.

As stated earlier, reading is a bit like an iceberg. It is easy to "see" the words on the page, but you cannot "see" everything that the brain does to produce excellent reading.

Consider this scrambled paragraph. It can be read quickly and efficiently when the brain strategically samples alphabetic clues while simultaneously asking the question: "What makes sense?"

"Aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm." (From LanguageHat.com)

At first, the brain seeks to unscramble the first few words. Then, once the brain grounds the passage in meaning that makes sense, the reader takes off—subconsciously asking the question "What does the text say?" It is a significantly different view of what drives efficient and effective reading. Essentially, it puts comprehension FIRST, not last. To read the passage efficiently, you are using some alphabetic information (not all) to anticipate the author's meaning. This causes you to make important connections in your own mind with what you know about how language works and what you know about the world (in this case, research and reading). It is, indeed, very complex.

Implicit brain activity associated with reading has stumped the reading field for decades. The brain does not have to identify every letter in sequential order to read efficiently. Yet, this is how reading is being taught in the early grades—and it is what opens the door for reading difficulties to form.

The human brain likes efficiency. When it cannot operate efficiently, it wants to abandon the activity. In America today, two-thirds of all students do not read proficiently (source: National Assessment of Educational Progress). THIS is the reason that so many children and teens resist reading.

WORD IDENTIFICATION

THE CONVENTIONAL VIEW:
The foundation and main event of reading is individual word identification.

The perceived foundation and main event of reading is figuring out what the words are via decoding, word attack, and sight word recognition. The same core focus on individual word identification has existed for about 150 years. When students struggle with reading, the intervention strategy is almost always explicit instruction in strategies related to individual word identification and, later, when students are older, strategies that help them find main points and key information.

It is widely believed that, if highly skilled individual word identification is not firmly in place as the first and most important step to reading, students cannot become successful readers. If this were correct, Read Right methodology would not be highly effective. Our methods intentionally AVOID individual word recognition in almost every respect for one reasonit works.

Try it. Read Right is unique in the reading field. It is highly effective because it does not focus on individual word recognition as the foundation and main event of reading.