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Early Reading Instruction: What Science Really Tells Us about How to Teach Reading Paperback – 17 Feb 2006
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The task of reviewing reading instruction research is daunting and McGuinness's efforts are admirable...Her comprehensive analysis has left few if any stones unturned.--Gale A. Mentzer, Education Review
This title proposes a solution to the "reading war": a prototype for the most effective reading instruction, based on paleographic findings and current research. "Early Reading Instruction" is a comprehensive analysis of the research evidence from early writing systems to computer models of reading. In this book, Diane McGuinness provides an innovative solution to the "reading war" - the century-old debate over the efficacy of phonics (sound-based) versus whole-word (meaning-based) methods. She has developed a prototype - a set of elements that are critical to the success of a reading method. McGuinness shows that all writing systems, without exception, are based on a sound unit in the language. This fact, and other findings by paleographers, provides a platform for the prototype. Other elements of the prototype are based on modern research. For example, observational studies in the classroom show that time spent on three activities strongly predicts reading success: learning phoneme/symbol correspondences, practice at blending and segmenting phonemes in words, and copying/writing words, phrases, and sentences.The National Reading Panel (2000) summarised the research on reading methods after screening out thousands of studies that failed to meet minimum scientific standards. In an in-depth analysis of this evidence, McGuinness shows that the most successful methods (children reading a year or more above age norms) include all the elements in the prototype. Finally, she argues, because phonics-type methods are consistently shown to be superior to whole-word methods in studies dating back to the 1960s, it makes no sense to continue this line of research. The most urgent question for future research is how to get the most effective phonics programs into the classroom. See all Product description
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Not being English but Swedish I must say that her reasoning is translatable and useful for other languages than English. Even though she depicts Swedish to be extremely different in terms of having a far more simple spelling code than English, her reasoning and solutions are still applicable.
I initially read the “Why Our Children Can't Read and What We Can Do About It” also written by Diane McGuinness and I can warmly recommend both of them, but since the content of them are quite overlapping you might prefer to just buy one of them. Still I couldn’t help my self so I think that I ended up with buying most of the books that she has authored and a few additional copies that I have given to friends and teachers.
As in the compliment to this book (see: Language Development and Learning to Read: The Scientific Study of How Language Development Affects Reading Skill (Bradford Books)) dyslexia is also mentioned in perhaps a new light - that it is not biologically based: "For a biological theory to be accurate, dyslexia would have to occur at the same rate in all populations" but it does not (p 3).
It looks at writing systems and the history of and then gets into the nitty-gritty of how to teach reading. It breaks down pedagogy on many levels and is not just academic literature developing theory - but using theory that exists it provides ways to apply sound pedagogy.
If you are interested in teaching reading - obviously you are if you are reading this review - I would recommend this book without hesitation.