S1 E1: Literacy Myth-Busting with Lyn Stone

S1 E1: Literacy Myth-Busting with Lyn Stone
Reading Road Trip
S1 E1: Literacy Myth-Busting with Lyn Stone

Jul 03 2023 | 00:41:44

/
Episode 1 July 03, 2023 00:41:44

Hosted By

IDA Ontario Kate Winn

Show Notes

In the premiere, Kate is joined by Lyn Stone, a linguist and author. Lyn busts common reading myths and misconceptions, advocating for evidence-based structured literacy for all students.

About Lyn:

Lyn Stone is a linguist, educator, author and founder of Lifelong Literacy. Her books, courses, and presentations unpack the structure of language, supporting educators to improve student reading and writing outcomes with evidence-based practices. Lyn can be found on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Lyn’s Books:

Reading for Life - the 21 Days of Writing Challenge Kate mentioned can be found in this book.

Spelling for Life

Language for Life

In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, we are amplifying the work of an Indigenous creator in every episode. This week’s pick is the picture book You Hold Me Up, written by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Danielle Daniel.

Are you an educator listening to Reading Road Trip with your colleagues? Use our Podcast Discussion Guide to support any conversations with co-workers!

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Kate Winn: 00:00:06 Hello to all you travelers out there on the road to evidence-based literacy instruction. I'm Kate Winn, classroom teacher and host of IDA Ontario's brand new podcast, Reading Road Trip. Welcome to the show. Before we get started, we would like to acknowledge that we are recording this podcast from the traditional land of the Mississauga Anishnabe. We are grateful to live here and thank the generations of First Nations people for their care, for and teachings about the Earth. We also recognize the contributions of Metis, Inuit, and other Indigenous Peoples in shaping our community and country. Along with this acknowledgement and in the spirit of truth and reconciliation, we'd like to amplify the work of an Indigenous artist. And this week we are sharing the beautiful picture book You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel. And before we introduce our very first guest here on Reading Road Trip, I just want to take a moment to let you know who I am. Kate Winn 00:01:00 I'm the mom of two teen girls and an Ontario classroom teacher, 23 years and counting with a range of experiences including core French, gifted education, homeroom teaching from grades two through five, rotary in grade seven and eight, and the past seven years in kindergarten where I will return in September. I am passionate about structured literacy and evidence-based instruction and assessment. And our entire team at IDA Ontario is so excited to be bringing you this new podcast, sharing research and practical ideas for your classroom, school, or district. Now it's time to jump into our first interview. I'm so thrilled to introduce the very first guest, Lyn Stone. Lyn Stone is a linguist working in Australia, teaching students of all ages to read and write, providing professional development and authoring valuable books for educators, such as Reading for Life and Spelling for Life. And my co-producer Una Malcolm and I knew we wanted Lynn for our first guest because she's knowledgeable, she's personable, and she tells it like it is, even if it makes us a little bit uncomfortable as Reading for Life certainly did for me the first time I read it. And I remember cringing when I saw some of my past classroom practices reflected in some of the issues that she raises. Lyn is here to help us dive into some hot topics and debunk some myths and misconceptions around reading. Welcome Lyn Stone. Lyn Stone 00:02:18 Hello, Kate. Thank you. It's a huge honor to be here. And yes, I apologize and I apologize in advance to anyone who also, um, may read my material and cringe, but we have to break through that barrier, don't we? And we've all been there, we've all done things that we look back on and go, how, how did I manage to do that? Um, you know, so we, we've all been there, so <laugh> apologies. But, um, but yeah, we don't have time. We don't have time to to, to fuss about. We've got to get straight to the point, I think because it's children's literacy that's at stake and that's a lot. Kate Winn 00:02:52 It certainly is. And we're going to get right at some of those, uh, the tough questions that might make us a little uncomfortable. And the first topic I wanna talk about is balanced literacy. So we are in Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission conducted a Right to Read inquiry and released a report. One of the big recommendations in that report for the Ministry of Education was to remove all references about balanced literacy from the curriculum. Now, you wrote in Reading for Life, which I thought was really interesting. Why don't we all teach structured literacy? And one of the reasons you gave is absolution and you said "children who make no or low progress in reading and writing are labelled within these approaches, for example, balanced literacy, as having deficits beyond the teacher's control, such as a language disorder or a social social disadvantage." So can you expand on that idea of the absolution we got from some of these, um, ineffective reading practices? Lyn Stone 00:03:43 Yeah, and I, I, I will, I think a good starting point is actually that we have to remember that teachers get into teaching as a vocation as something that they do. Because generally speaking, and I'm being general here, but generally speaking, the majority of teachers do it because they like children and they want to be around them, and they want to help them. So no matter what their tools, no matter what their approach, that's their driving force. They want to make their children make progress. They want to be responsible for that. Now, if they're given training that's not fit for purpose, it's very, very uncomfortable and deeply disturbing when they see children clearly not making progress. And the tools that I'm talking about, of course, are balanced literacy and all of its offshoots, whole language and all of its offshoots - things that don't work. Now, built into the training of those things is the absolution clause is the clause that goes, Hey, some of your kids just aren't gonna progress with this, but that's okay because it's them, not you. Lyn Stone 00:04:40 And that's, that's the, the, the poison that's within balanced literacy as well. That, that, you know, it's incredibly, it's incredibly difficult for teachers. I advocate for students, but actually as my job has expanded into teacher training, I advocate for teachers too, because it is really horrible for them to have to face up to the fact that maybe hundreds of children that they've worked with didn't progress as a direct result of their instruction. So I feel very, it's, it's, you know, it's a, it's a horrible thing to confront and I feel very sorry for them. But unfortunately, within balance literacy, you are given training that says it's not you, it's them. We need to challenge that as well. Kate Winn 00:05:21 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and I mean, and I'm sure you agree, and I know you've said this, we're not about blaming teachers, but we certainly know that, you know, teachers weren't properly trained, like you said, you know, it wasn't fit for purpose, what we learned about and all of that, but we are, you know, having to deal with this discomfort of realizing all of that. Right. And, and moving forward. Another interesting quote that you wrote that stays with me and that I often think about whenever I'm about to post something to Twitter, you said "if you want to judge a teacher's effectiveness, you do so by the output and progress of their lowest performers." And what made you feel that was important to put into print? Lyn Stone 00:05:55 Well, because I run a practice. So I run basically a group of people that are, from an analogy, you know, an analogy point of view, our ambulances at the bottom of the cliff. So there they're people who pick up the pieces when things have gone wrong in the classroom. So, so that, that drives me to say we need to get a better deal for these people. We need to actually build fences at the top of the cliff rather than be the ambulances at the bottom. So, yeah, so I'm driven by trying to get the best deal possible for the largest number of students. And right now the status quo is if balance literacy and whole language is being used, um, the status quo is that those people with developmental disorders or other things that are other factors in their lives that are preventing them from acquiring literacy easily, like lots of students, I wanna get a good deal for them. And I think we can get a much better deal. Because the, the, the thing is when they come to our practice, they leave reading. So if we can do it, anyone can do it. It's not cause of us, it's not cause of our brains or our personalities, it's just because of the tools we, we we use. It's very, very clear. So it drives my advocacy. Kate Winn 00:07:06 Mm-hmm. <affirmative> you also write, um, some interesting chapters about kind of not being fooled by some of the, the messaging out there. And there's two examples that I'd like to get into that I think have affected our progress with structure literacy in Ontario and beyond. So, um, the first one is being fooled by anecdotal evidence, and then the second one is the sunk cost fallacy. So if you wouldn't mind just telling us a little bit about both of those. Lyn Stone 00:07:31 Yeah. Brains are hardwired, human brains are hardwired to listen to stories. Cause if you think about the history of humans, right? We've been talking to one another for a very, very long time and we've been writing for a very, very short time and we've been doing research and sharing research for a sliver of time. So human brains are evolved to pass on information and wisdom through speech, through stories, through analogy. We're wired to listen to that and go, yes, I'm gonna make decisions based on the experiences of others. So it's incredibly tempting when you hear a story, a personal story about how this worked for me or this worked for this kid. For you to believe that because you want to, you're biologically driven to be excited by that, to be convinced by that. We have to look beyond that when it comes to research. Lyn Stone 00:08:26 You have to look beyond that when it comes to 7 billion people, right? <laugh>, you've got to also <laugh>, right? Be able to look into why something works and why it doesn't work. And that's research. But that's boring, isn't it? And it takes a lot of time and effort and it's much easier just to be convinced by stories. So anecdotal evidence is one of those, it's one of those almost toxic things in this field because for everything that you say about how to do something, there will be someone going, oh, well that didn't work for me. And you can sway thousands of people just by talking about your story. So I have to be really careful about anecdotes because they don't equal data. Data is what tells the stories. Not single data points, but trends over time. That's what tells the real stories. But you know what, they're kind of much less compelling than this worked for me. That's the first one. Anecdotes, um, what was your second? I've chatted so much. Kate Winn 00:09:29 Yes. Sunk cost Lyn Stone 00:09:30 Fallacy. Oh, the sunk cost fallacy. We've all been there. We again, we've all been there and I write this stuff about, um, cognitive bias and I write this stuff about believing folklore and all that sort of thing because I've been there, I've done all of that and I know what it feels like. So the sunk cost fallacy is when you pay for something and you pay sort of beyond, uh, you just your normal shopping list, you're actually spending investing money and money makes people funny as you know, right? <laugh>, you know mm-hmm. <affirmative> never borrower or lender be all that sort of thing because money makes you a bit funny. So imagine investing money in something and then having some realization, not particularly at the conscious level, but at the unconscious level that the thing you bought doesn't work. Now that's really uncomfortable cuz you invested this money, you may even have invested your energy. Lyn Stone 00:10:26 So sunk cost isn't just about money, it's about the time and the energy that you've devoted to developing the thing that you bought. It's your personality that you're putting behind it. It's your reputation, your name, everything. So you buy this thing and then you realize it doesn't work properly. It's not doing the things that you thought it would do. Now that's massively uncomfortable. So a lot of the time humans will keep investing in that thing rather than admit that they need to scrap it and start again because they've sunk all of this energy into this thing. So they've got to keep believing, right? They've gotta keep on believing that it's gonna work. And that's the sunk cost fallacy. We've spent all this money we can't possibly be wrong. And it happens with, um, you know, um, the great big boxes of books like the three, two, $3,000 boxes of books that Fountas and Pinnell put out there, or PM benchmarks. Lyn Stone 00:11:20 I mean, I don't wanna, you know, there's lots and lots of schemes like that and schools will spend their budgets on that to the tunes of tens of thousands of dollars. There's not a principal in the world that wouldn't think my job's on the line if I suddenly say, uh, I we're not gonna use those anymore. So they have to keep up that sunk cost, um, approach and say, no, no, no, we, we'll, we'll do something with these books. They've gotta be okay cuz I spent $10,000 on them. That's the sunk cost fallacy. And parents as well, parents will pay all sorts of money for these, uh, weird schemes about fixing children's ears or fixing their eyes or their gut or you know, their toes. I don't know, anything not connected to print, right? They'll pay all this money and they'll go, well it's gotta be working cuz I invested all this money and time and energy. But it's not so to, to avoid that, you've, you've got to be aware that this thing exists called the sunk cost fallacy, and it makes you think that something's working when it's not working. Kate Winn 00:12:22 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Well, and I have to say, I have so much respect for leaders that I have seen who have, you know, sunk cost into something Yep. And then now have learned the research and have been able to step back and say, okay, nope, that's gone. And, you know, and to be able to move on from that. So, but I think it's very, very difficult and you're right, there's reputation on the line and, and all of that as well. So, I mean, congratulations to the people who, who have been able to, to move past that. Lyn Stone 00:12:49 Yeah. And their stories need to be told, because the more people are able to do that, the more that people lead the way with that, the easier it's gonna be for the next person and the easier it's gonna be for the next person and so on. And it's going to be a, you know, it, it, it sort of spirals into something really, really good. But it takes telling those stories. Yes. Anecdotes, um, <laugh>, you know, of, of, uh, making that, that change and putting everything on the line by saying, this was wrong. We are gonna change. Kate Winn 00:13:19 Yeah. You, um, pose a question to your readers that I am now going to pose to our listeners and let them see if they can guess what the answer might be. And then I'm going to ask you to talk about why this answer is important. So here we go. In a 2014 study of 42500 first through third graders, decoding, vocabulary and comprehension were all tested. Some students scored low on all three, some on decoding and vocabulary, but not comprehension. So here's the question, what percentage do you think were strong in decoding and vocabulary, but weak in comprehension? So I want listeners to just take a moment to think about that. Out of those 425,000 kids, what percentage do you think were strong in decoding and vocabulary, yet we're weak in comprehension, and the answer to that is fewer than 1%. Now, Lyn, why is it important for us to know that, how does that matter in the grand scheme of reading instruction? That that number is so small? Lyn Stone 00:14:22 Because that number is perceived to be very, very much bigger. And when children are good at decoding and good at vocabulary, but not good at comprehension, then it kind of helps, uh, teachers justify a comprehension based approach to intervention. And a comprehension based based approach to intervention, uh, lowers the importance of decoding and lowers the importance of vocabulary, building and inflates the importance of comprehension strategy, teaching, you know, things like, I'm gonna teach you to make inferences, or I'm going to teach you to think of the main idea, or I'm, you know, all sorts of things to do with comprehending, with linguistic comprehension and reading comprehension. And that's the approach that they take for the majority of students. So you go to your intervention lesson and your teacher in that lesson will ask you about what makes sense, what you could predict as the next part of this story and so on. Lyn Stone 00:15:22 Now that's, that's, that's something that may be helpful for a fewer than 1% of the population, and yet up to 80% of the intervention population is getting this kind of approach. So it's, you know, it's again, not fit for purpose. If you, if you have that perception in your mind that it is a comprehension difficulty that children are have, you're gonna use comprehension strategies when they need something else. When I train teachers, I ask them this very question. This question comes up in every workshop that we do on reading. And it's quite astounding, even the teachers who have made it to my workshop. And you have to remember, I'm not even getting to the core of balanced literacy teachers here. I'm, I'm, I, you know, the people come to my workshops already kind of sold on the idea. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, the structure of literacy is a good thing. So these are already, you know, this is the choir I'm preaching to, and yet even within that group, the majority think it's over 50% of children. Time and time again. They, and when I say it's actually with that, that study of 425,000, what is it? First to third graders Kate Winn 00:16:33 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Lyn Stone 00:16:34 That's representative of the population. That's a large number of children. Right. Even with that study, when I say to them, it's fewer than 1%, their jaws drop. So we have a massive myth to bust here. Kate Winn 00:16:46 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you also write in your book about consequences of low literacy. And I think sometimes for people, um, especially, you know, those who don't struggle with literacy or, and their kids don't struggle with literacy, and they just think of it as kind of this, you know, vague topic, okay, well maybe you can't read well and so maybe you will go on to higher education, but you can still have a good life and all that. But you know, you talk about things like related to mental health, related to school, to prison pipeline. Can you elaborate a little bit on some of those really serious consequences of literacy? Lyn Stone 00:17:17 Yeah, I, I think we'll start with the mental health part. If you imagine put yourself in a situation where you haven't acquired literacy or where everybody around you say you're like, you know, seven years old and, uh, for all intents and purposes, fairly bright, you know, and you've done everything right and you've reached all your milestones and everyone's really proud of you and you're happy to go to school and so on. And yet what you're noticing is that people around you who may not have, um, you know, or may be equal in intellectual capacity to you, cuz remember people put themselves into hierarchies really fast. So you get into school, you know where you are on the scale of everything really fast. That's what humans do. So it's not like they're oblivious to the fact that some people are whizzing by them on, in, in reading and writing. Lyn Stone 00:18:03 Now that starts to become a little bit corrosive because you didn't expect to go to school not progressing. Right. That's the expect, the expectation that you had was that you would just learn to read like everybody else, and yet you're not doing it. That some that starts to become a what's wrong with me thought. Right? And those are incredibly corrosive thoughts. So that's a negative factor. There're all sorts of fact positive factors that you can build around children, you know, like a, a home life that is, uh, nurturing and warm, that private tutoring, you know, the means to do all of that sort of thing. You can fix all of those, those things. Or you can have other negative factors in your life as well. So there you are, as a little kid starting to think that you're dumb, starting to think that you're lazy, right? Lyn Stone 00:18:47 And if you don't have support around you that says, no, no, no, you're not done, you're not lazy, we're gonna help. We're gonna fix this. That starts to become, uh, a life of shame. And Steve Dykstra, um, was, was, uh, really impressed me with a, a, a wonderful piece that he wrote about, uh, shame fatigue and how you go through life just being ashamed, just in little small, you know, micro shames throughout your primary schooling, and you become inured to it. You become hardened to being ashamed, and then you're not ashamed of some of the other things that you do. And that can lead to over time, a life of, of somebody who doesn't mind committing crime or doesn't have the same shame reaction to hurting others or committing crime or so on. And so this sort of thing, spirals, right <laugh>, and it starts with this negative self-talk. Lyn Stone 00:19:37 It starts with this failure in school, uh, to acquire literacy when everybody else is acquiring it. So that that can be, you know, a long trajectory of factors that lead to involvement in the criminal justice system. And once a person's involved in the criminal justice system, it's very, very difficult to extract themselves from the criminal justice system. Once you're in that, you're in that, you're in a different world now. And it does a lot of the time start with low literacy. If you look at the statistics of people who can read and can't read in prison, you'll find that it's not representative of the general population. Lots of a much, much larger group of people in prison are also illiterate. Now there is correlation <laugh> there, there's correlation. It's not necessarily causation, but there's correlation. And so it then stands to reason that the better we are, no matter the circumstances of a child, the better we are at helping them read, the easier it's going to be for them not to commit crime, not to have to resort to crime as well, and not having that shame fatigue. Kate Winn 00:20:44 This podcast is produced by IDA Ontario, which stands for International Dyslexia Association, for any listeners who who didn't know that, and so obviously we recognize the existence of dyslexia, but I'm wondering what is sort of your, um, the, the definition of dyslexia that you work from, and why do you think it's important that we use that term? Lyn Stone 00:21:04 Well, you know, me, I'm a bit of a, uh, I'm very interested in myths and busting them. So when I talk about dyslexia, I talk about the myths that abound and what dyslexia is and what dyslexia isn't. And I think that's very useful. It's very, very useful because, uh, we can then start to get a def a working definition that's not just a sentence that you can look up on Google. It's not certain things. First of all, uh, it's not something that you can cure, right? It's not, you can't walk up to people and go, boom, you're cured. You'll never have dyslexia again. And, and you get people that walk up, you know, that, that, that talk about dyslexia who say things like, oh yeah, I used to be dyslexic, or He used to be dyslexic. Lyn Stone 00:21:47 No, you're always dyslexic. It's, it's, it's, it's, it's developmental. It, it, it, you know, it, it affects one or more major functions, uh, in life. Um, and you can get really good support, but you'll never stop being dyslexic. That that's, you know, that's, that's one of the things. It's something that you can definitely help, but you help that by having children and, and people, dyslexic people engage with print and build mental models of how the writing system works. You don't help them by thinking or by showing them or saying to them that it's your eyes, actually. We're just gonna fix what your eyes are seeing and everything's gonna be fine. You know what I'm talking about, right, Kate? I'm talking about colored overlays, right? I'm talking about special lenses. So nonsense. That's not, that's not going to fix dyslexia at all. Dyslexia, it's neurological. It's in structures in the brain, not your eyes, not your ears. Lyn Stone 00:22:41 So no amount, no amount of really high quality, expensive, posh headphones and weird sound signals in your ears are going to make it better for you when you engage with print. The thing that's gonna make it better for you is engaging with print and understanding more and more about how the writing system works. So it's not, it's not in your organs, in your other organs. It's your, it's a neurological disorder that makes it difficult for you to engage with print. It's also not a gift, I'm sorry to say that. I know that it can be jarring, especially for parents who are, are children who are given, are fed this line that, uh, oh look you're dyslexic. Um, but that means that you're really creative as well. Or that means you're an out of the box thinker or you're artistic. You've got all these gifts because of your dyslexia. Lyn Stone 00:23:31 Actually, there's a lot people out there that don't have those gifts. Dyslexia doesn't cause outta the box thinking. It doesn't cause that, it doesn't cause someone to be strong or resilient. It doesn't cause that what's in them causes these, uh, these positive traits. Dyslexia causes one thing, and that is difficulty with print. That's the only thing it causes, right? It doesn't cause anything else. So if you're saying it's a gift, what you're doing is you're playing un placing unnatural, um, unobtainable goals onto someone burdens of a goal. Oh, I'm dyslexic. I can't read, I'm that, therefore I must be artistic. No, nope, that doesn't come with dyslexia at all. That can be, again, another toxic and corrosive thought to people. Some people don't have all of those gifts. It's better to frame it. Thus, if you have dyslexia, you're going to find it difficult to, to read and write and to acquire that. Lyn Stone 00:24:26 But luckily you've got whatever positive traits you have, you know, like good sense of humor or you are an out of the box thinker. I've seen evidence for that. Or you are very creative. I've seen evidence for that. You've got these separate from dyslexia that are going to help you come to terms with and, uh, and work through and work with this condition of dyslexia that you have. So dyslexia in a nutshell, basically is a neurological disorder that makes it difficult for people to form robust mental orthographic images of words. They can't store words very well in their long-term memory. That's what that is. And it has all sorts of manifestations, um, at all different stages of life. But that is basically it in a nutshell and nothing else. Kate Winn 00:25:12 We've been talking a lot about reading and just now you mentioned writing as well, which of course is, is the other side of that. And you have a great 21 day writing challenge that I was hoping you might just share with listeners. It may be something that teachers want to think about assigning, but I'm also thinking about the parents who are listening and, and want their kids to get a little bit of extra practice. So could you just tell everyone how that 21 day writing challenge works? Lyn Stone 00:25:35 Yeah, we'll start from the overview and that is this, we're actually doing really well as a society, I think, in thinking about reading and trying to improve the lot of students when it comes to reading. And we're, we're, we're, we're moving in the right direction. We're doing really well with that. But there's a warning, right? There's a caveat here. We need to focus on writing. We need to actually think much, much deeper about writing and train teachers really well about writing. And the reason for it is that writing is not the flip side of reading. Writing is a completely different set of skills that overlaps with reading. You've gotta be able to do the things that you can do to read in order to write, but to write, you gotta do lots more other stuff too. So it's really hard and it has a very, very long runway. Lyn Stone 00:26:25 You don't become a proficient writer even during your childhood. That is something that you continue to develop throughout your life. So that, whereas reading, once you've started, once you start to self-teach and start to get your site work, vocabulary and so on, reading becomes a task that, you know, um, doesn't, doesn't exponentially grow throughout your lifetime, right? Whereas writing does. So as you can see, there's there, there are two different things. That's the first thing. Secondly, children who struggle with literacy, so we're going back to dyslexic, uh, students now, uh, students, even with dysgraphia, uh, students with other developmental disorders that get into the way, in the way of developing this really difficult artifact that is writing in a, in a brain, they don't tend to volunteer to write. They don't tend to go, you know what, I'm bored, I'm just gonna sit and write some stuff. Lyn Stone 00:27:14 Right? They don't, they avoid it like the plague cause it's very, very difficult for them to do. And who amongst us will sit there and force themselves to do difficult stuff? Not that many of us, right? You gotta be really motivated for that. Are kids really motivated? Do they have that internal voice? Not really, right? Especially again, when they're seeing everybody around them, or lots and lots of people around them just do this stuff easily. Makes you wanna give up so they don't volunteer to practice writing. Whereas typically developing children, um, they do, don't they? They, they, they scribble shopping lists and they write you notes and they, they put, um, captions on their pictures or they even put speech bubbles coming from the, the figures that they draw. They're writing all the time. And the more you practice something, the better you get at it. Lyn Stone 00:28:00 So the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. So how do we combat that? Well, at lifelong literacy, we combat that by giving them extremely structured writing practice. And it became something called the 21 Day Writing Challenge. And that is for 21 days, I want you to develop the habit of writing. 21's an arbitrary number. There is, there are some sort of, you know, there's a myth out there that it takes about 21 days to make or break a habit. It's very, very difficult to measure, but it's a good starting point, right? It's three weeks of constant, uh, taking bikes out of this apple right, of writing to develop that habit of writing. So it's very, very scaffolded and it consists of three instances per day that you do some writing or the child or the, the student does some writing. The first instance, the first thing that you do is the really easy bit that relatively speaking. Lyn Stone 00:28:54 And that's copying. So copying takes out every single part of the, the components of writing. Cuz writing has lots of different components except letter formation. And what it does is that it models good sentence formation and good spelling. So that gives a highly scaffolded practice and good modeling as well. So it's kind of like a, a very heavy we do, right? If you look at the gradual release of responsibility model, right? So they copy something and they do that for 21 days. And when I say something, you have to judge that, right? I'm not sitting in front of your students. The students are at all sorts of different areas, uh, in their, in their, their writing development continuum. So you have to judge what they copy. The second thing that they need to do is have someone dictate a well-formed sentence or a well-written paragraph again, depending on where they are in the continuum. Lyn Stone 00:29:51 And they have to write that down from hearing it. Now that means they have to think about the spelling. So there's an an extra task in there, right? It's not just letter formation, but it's spelling as well. So you, you're adding these extra parts and then the last thing that they need to do is composition. So they compose. So not only are they doing transcription, which is the mechanics and the conventions of writing, but they're doing composition text generation and that's really hard. Think about the cognitive load that's there. Um, if you have to generate the text and think about the punctuation and the spelling, you know, so, so that's an even easier, so it's a harder task, but obviously with an easier stimulus they have to compose. So it's copying dictation composition for 21 days. That's the 21 day writing challenge. And with that heavily scaffolded practice, the, the, the rationale is that children will become more proficient at doing independent writing. Lyn Stone 00:30:48 And that's what we've seen over the years. It's a lovely, it's a lovely thing. One thing I'll add with writing, if you don't mind, I know we were talking about reading, but one thing I'll add is that at Lifelong Literacy, when we shifted our focus as practitioners over to writing from reading so that our, our um, our intervention sessions became, uh, 70% writing, 30% reading. When it used to be the other way round, two things happened. The first thing that happened is that the children got better at writing. The second thing that happened is that they got better at reading. Now when we focused on reading, they got better at reading. That was it. They didn't get better at writing. So shifting that focus even a little bit is transformative for practitioners and for students alike. Kate Winn 00:31:35 So interesting. And you mentioned spelling in there as well, you have another excellent book, spelling for Life and, but you know, I just have to ask you, they can just spell check anything nowadays, right? Why would you argue that it's actually important to teach spelling and of course I'm, I'm being the devil's advocate, I totally agree with, with teaching spelling <laugh>. But what would you, uh, what would you say are the, the important reasons for still teaching spelling in 2023? Lyn Stone 00:32:01 Well, look, first of all, I'll agree with you that you, you can use a spell checker and that's a piece of technology that is just a gift, especially for children and adults who find it difficult to recall correct, uh, spelling patterns and correct, uh, sequences of letters in words. That's a gift. That's a wonderful thing. However, teaching spelling isn't just about teaching accuracy in spelling, it's also teaching good, good spelling teaching, by the way. So there's a lot of not great spelling teaching out there, right? But good spelling teaching helps teachers and students to think about the internal structure of the writing system. How our language, our written language has evolved. And that then increases things like vocabulary and comprehension too. It increases independence because if you tell students how words actually work, then it's easier for them to break words down and put words back together when there's no teacher and no spell check there. Lyn Stone 00:33:05 So spelling is important because it forms mental models about how the writing system works. And that is a great gift. That's a good app to have in your brain, right? Or whatever, however many apps that are out there. Secondly, there are situations where if you are looking up a word or, or you're, you're struggling really, you know, hard with words, sometimes it's very difficult to even put an approximation of a word into your search search engine. You know, you can't even spell that well enough for the search engine to look it up. Now that's not a situation I want any person to be in. I want them, even if they're not a hundred percent accurate, to be good enough, uh, at, at transcribing something so that they can use those reference materials. And the reality of the situation is there are plenty of people out there who, who can't even do that. So we can't fall back on apps to do this for us. Kate Winn 00:33:58 I find in my kindergarten class, using little dictations based on the, the phonics that we've been doing has been a real game changer for me. And I'm trying to spread that word to other teachers too, even in terms of the assessment piece. You know, you mentioned, you know, working on the writing, also improving the reading and sort of that idea that just because they can read a word doesn't necessarily mean they can write it, but if you can dictate it and they spell it, then they probably can write it and read it. Um, and so it's, it's so efficient cuz you can do it with the whole class at the same time. You just read words that they should now be able to spell based on what you have taught them and you can get so much. I find even just like looking at all the sheets, you realize, okay, this kid's not, you know, um, segmenting their words very well or this one still hasn't learned the, this particular digraph or whatever. And it's so much more efficient than other ways of assessing. So I think that's something that, you know, I'd like to encourage teachers to, to think about trying. Lyn Stone 00:34:52 Yeah. Yeah. Dictation is a tried and true, uh, you know, um, formative assessment. It's, it's, it's great and it's also great practice for children. And dictating well, well crafted sentences is it's, it's again, another gift. You're giving them this exposure to how written language works. You might as well. It's, you know, it's something that they can and will pick up and use independent of you. And that's the job, isn't it? Kate Winn 00:35:17 Yep, exactly. Now, when you visited Canada last fall, and I'm just wondering what you thought of our, our beautiful country, if you saw any sites, what your impressions were and when will you be back? Lyn Stone 00:35:29 Well, I love Canada and I, I've been there before, but not on business. So, um, I wasn't completely new to it. I went and saw, uh, I went to Vancouver to see, uh, Snow Patrol, the band open for my, one of my other favorite bands, Coldplay. So the, the two of them were playing in Vancouver. And so that was, that's the second time I've been to Canada. So it's been a few times. But this one, this time it was definitely for, uh, uh, business I guess. Uh, I, I was at the Reading League, so in Syracuse and it's so close to Canada, I thought, and I, and I've had so much love from Canadians that I thought, oh, maybe I'll run some workshops, you know, so I'll, I'll uh, I'll run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it. And they did. So I thought, so stone's throw from, from Syracuse, I'll just do a little Canadian tour. Lyn Stone 00:36:18 So I went up through Niagara, the American side. I saw Niagara at the American side. Next time I'll do it, the Canadian side then went up to Toronto. But for some reason, and St. John knew Brunswick. There were just tons of people. There's tiny little place. There were just tons of people that are really interested in Reading for Life. So I went and did a workshop there and I've gotta say I'm so in love with it. I'm so in love with St. John, New Brunswick. It was something to do with the smell of the leaves. I'm very smell driven. Um, we don't have a lot of deciduous trees here in Australia, so going cuz it was October. So the leaves, the color of them and the smell of them, I just thought I need to go back to St. John all the time. So I'm coming back in October to St. Lyn Stone 00:37:00 John, but then I'm making my way over via Toronto and uh, and to Vancouver again. What I love about Canada is not just the landscape, obviously. I mean, that's a no-brainer. It's, it's stunning and amazing. But what I love is the people. I work a lot with New Zealanders. So I live in Australia and I go over to New Zealand a lot and I call New Zealanders the Canadians of the South. Cause you've got this great big country, you know, really near you. That's, forgive me for stereotyping here, but it, it, it's, it's full of, uh, very confident people who can sometimes be quite light. I'm talking about the United States, I'm talking about Australia, right? And I love them. They're brilliant people, but then you've got your quieter, polite, you know, just really nice, nice people up in Canada and down in, um, in New Zealand. And yeah, I just, I I love being, there's a change in atmosphere when you're there. Lyn Stone 00:37:55 The people are just, they're very, very different in a kind of nice, kind, um, community spirited way. I'm making massive generalizations. Of course there are lots of brilliant and kind Americans too, of course. But Canada's just got this mildness to it that, uh, it's not, you know, uh, sorry for stereotyping, but it's what brings me there. It's what attracts me to it because, you know, you're amongst, you suddenly know you're amongst Canadians, you know, when you're just kind of, you're relaxed and you're feeling really, I don't know, looked after and welcome and just, um, serene, I guess is what I'd, I'd call Canada. So there you go. I'm coming back. Kate Winn 00:38:36 <laugh>. Well, we can't wait to have you back. And I was doing a PD session myself when you were in Toronto last time, so I'm hoping that it will work out that I can, uh, I can see you when you, when you are here again. And the last thing I just wanna ask you is what are you working on right now? Where can people find your stuff? Lyn Stone 00:38:54 I'm so excited right now because on the 1st of September, I hand in the manuscript for the second edition of Language for Life, which is my grammar and syntax book. And I've been meaning to change parts of it for a long time and I'm finally getting the chance to do that. So every day I'll do another chapter of Language for Life, which is, um, parts of speech and, and syntax. And the thing that's different about this one is I'm bringing to bear my newfound knowledge of the fact that if you are teaching children and you're using, uh, words and sentences, if you build knowledge while you're doing that, you're gonna get a better overall result. So Language for Life, the words and the sentences and the passages that I used in the first edition were just kind of random. They were based on, uh, experiences that I had in my life or my friends or, or you know, just random and didn't really build knowledge of anything. But this one, this language for life. This is about birds. When you read that book, when you do that program, you're gonna know so much more about birds, right? So I'm building knowledge while I do it. Birds are my kind of special interest. I've loved birds forever. So I get to talk about that and learn more about birds. So that's what I'm working on. I'm so excited. It's not funny, but there you go. Kate Winn 00:40:10 Wonderful. Well, of course, in our show notes for this episode, we will link to Lynn's website and her books and social media so that you can find her and learn more. Lynn Stone, thank you so much for being our very first guest. Lyn Stone 00:40:24 A huge pleasure and a massive honor. Thank you, Kate. Kate Winn 00:40:28 As mentioned, show notes for each episode with all the links and information you need can be found on our website at podcast.idaontario.com. And you have been listening to episode one with Lynn Stone. Now I do have to throw in that typical end of the podcast call to action. If you enjoyed this episode of Reading Road Trip, we'd love it if you could rate and or review it in your podcast app as this is extremely helpful for a new podcast. And of course, we welcome any social media love you feel inspired to spread as well. Feel free to tag IDA Ontario and me. My handle is This Mom Loves. Make sure you're following the Reading Road Trip podcast in your app and watch for new episodes dropping every Monday throughout the summer. I'm Kate Winn and along with my co-producer Una Malcolm, we hope this episode of Reading Road Trip has made your path to evidence-based literacy instruction a little bit clearer and a little more fun. We couldn't bring reading road trip to you without the behind the scenes support from Katelyn Hanna, Brittany Haynes and Melinda Jones at IDA Ontario. Join us next time for another fantastic guest interview here on Reading Road Trip.

Other Episodes