S1 E2: Effective Early Literacy Instruction with Dr. Sonia Cabell

S1 E2: Effective Early Literacy Instruction with Dr. Sonia Cabell
Reading Road Trip
S1 E2: Effective Early Literacy Instruction with Dr. Sonia Cabell

Jul 10 2023 | 00:42:05

Episode 2 July 10, 2023 00:42:05

Hosted By

IDA Ontario Kate Winn

Show Notes

Kate Winn welcomes Dr. Sonia Cabell for a candid discussion about five key research-based elements of early language and literacy instruction for young children.

Dr. Sonia Cabell is an Associate Professor of Education at Florida State University and the Florida Center for Reading Research. Sonia's research focuses on early language and literacy instruction for young children, particularly as a preventative approach to support equity in future reading and writing. You can find Sonia on Twitter.

Sonia’s Books:

The Rising Star Scaffolding Guide, written by Sonia and her co-authors, is a great resource for Kate in her classroom as she supports young writers.

The Florida Center for Reading Research is a treasure trove of free resources for educators.

Kate hosted a phenomenal webinar for IDA Ontario, Structured Literacy in Kindergarten: 5 Key Changes That Made All My Students Readers. Curious how Kate did it? Catch the webinar recording and materials.

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 It’s a Mitig by Bridget George.

Are you an educator listening to Reading Road Trip with your colleagues? Use our Podcast Discussion Guide to support any discussion.

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Kate Winn 00:00:05 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 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 very cute picture book. It's a Mitig, written and illustrated by Bridget George. Now on with the show, I'm so excited to introduce this week's guest. Kate Winn 00:01:01 She is an early literacy researcher and Associate Professor in reading education at Florida State University in the College of Education and the Florida Center for Reading Research. She's currently studying content-rich English language arts approaches, and pre-K and K writing instruction. She is Dr. Sonia Cabell. And I'm not going to lie, I slid into Sonia's DMs a long time ago because I am so interested in her work, and we've chatted back and forth, but it's lovely to be chatting today. We can see each other even though our listeners can't see us. But welcome to the podcast, Sonia. Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:01:33 Thank you for having me. I have loved talking with you on Twitter and reading all of your Twitter posts and how your children are progressing through, you know, in their writing, um, and in their early literacy. So thank you for having me on. Kate Winn 00:01:46 It's amazing to have you here. So you have many areas of expertise when it comes to, you know, reading research, but today we're going to focus on that early literacy piece and particularly some of the great ideas in a book that you co-authored. So the book is called Literacy Learning for Infants, toddlers, and Preschoolers: Key Practices for Educators and your co-authors, Mariana Soto Manning, Tanya Wright, and Nell Duke. And in that book you have five critical areas for young children's literacy development. So what we're going to do today is we're going to kind of hit on all five of those and just get you to sort of give us your highlights and how, you know, as, as early literacy teachers, instructors, we can work on developing those areas. So the first one is clever communicators, so that really important oral language piece. So what does that look like for you, and what tips do you have for us as educators? Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:02:35 Yeah, to me, this is the part, um, I think that probably the part I'm one of the parts I'm most passionate about. So all of my work focuses on the prevention of reading difficulties. How do we lay a foundation for children early on and set the stage for reading to occur? And, um, so that when children are introduced to formal reading instruction, the transition is smooth and it it starts early. So this book is from birth to five, um, and the language develops, you know, right from the start, right from birth in the many conversations that we have with young children, um, that we, that adults have with them, that they have with each other. Um, even conversations, proto conversations before they're able to, um, really, uh, talk. You're having these turn taking opportunities going back and forth. Well, this same conversational turn taking is really important in school as well. Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:03:33 Um, and research has shown that a lot of times there's a lot of talk going on in classrooms, but not necessarily a lot of conversation where the teacher and children go back and forth on the same topic. Um, some of the research that I've done, um, looking at, um, preschools, uh, in, in the Head Start programs, um, in the United States, uh, found that, uh, teachers rarely had multiple turn conversations that were more than, um, four turns back and forth. Um, and that is, it's really important to think about those conversational turns because in a co in a in a conversation, teachers can scaffold a whole lot of language learning for young children. Kate Winn 00:04:26 And in that section, there so many little tidbits that I kind of took away and made notes about. But, um, at one part you talk about what some may call African-American English or Black English, and I certainly, you know, don't have the expertise to say what term we should use, but talking about how that should be welcomed and encouraged. And also the idea of instead of code switching, which we might have heard of as, you know, um, allowing or encouraging the going back and forth completely between languages or dialects. You talk about translanguaging and that was a new one for me. So how is that different and why is it important? Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:04:58 Yes, and I have to say, I have to give a shout out to Mariana Soto Manning, who is really the expert, um, in the, all of the, the, the dual language learner or multilingual learner pieces that you see in the book. But it used to be an older conception that, uh, the, the code switching used to be this, um, older conception that languages existed separately. And we, we kind of flip switches in our mind, but that's not really how language learning works. So making sure that we are valuing the language that children bring and, um, allowing them to go back and forth in, um, English and in their native language. Um, you know, some example in the book we use are like, more agua please or esta raining. Um, so rather so Kate Winn 00:05:49 Mixing it up together mm-hmm. Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:05:51 <affirmative> and, and not, and understanding that that is, that is fine. That's not going to hurt children's language development. Um, my, I, um, my parents, uh, came from Pakistan and spoke Urdu, but one of the misconceptions that they had was if they had us, if they raised us bilingually, um, then we would, um, not our English wouldn't develop, but that's just, research has not borne that out. Um, so this idea of welcoming language, the child's language and allowing that translanguaging, um, is important because children are trying to communicate a message and, uh, it, so it's important to, to value the communication. Um, and not necessarily, you're not correcting them saying, no, no, you have to say it like this. Even if they're talk, even if they're talking in English, you, you wouldn't necessarily correct them. So for example, if a child says, I, I, I winned the game, you would say, "oh, yes, you won the game. Good job." So notice how I just gave you a language model, but I didn't say, Hey, hey, hey, don't say that. Say I won the game. Repeat after me. You're valuing the message that they're bringing and you're providing them an advanced language model. And that's what those con, that's one of the things those conversational exchanges do. Kate Winn 00:07:07 And when we want kids building sort of that oral vocabulary and all of that, what do we know about how the language of texts, even children's picture book text, differs from just conversational language? Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:07:18 This is really important. So this is a key point because when you think about like, the simple view of reading, and you think about that language comprehension part of the simple view, it's really about understanding the language used in texts or written language, not just understanding the oral everyday language. And the reason that's important is because the everyday language that you and I are speaking right now is far less formal, and it has different syntax and vocabulary than the formal language, language of the formal register of books. And it's the language of that formal register of, of books, uh, that's valued at school, um, and what some people term as academic language. Um, and, uh, so it's really important to understand that even in a simple conversation that you and I might have, as you know, college graduates, um, we have far less sophisticated words that we're using or what some consider rare words, um, yeah, than a simple book we might read to our preschooler. Um, so it's very important to introduce children to the language of books and of texts early and often. Kate Winn 00:08:33 Great advice. So the second critical area, um, in the book is print navigators. So can you tell us a little bit more about what that means and how we can work on that with our students? Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:08:44 Yeah. Um, so children, through, through many exposures and opportunity, they be, and when you're reading aloud to them, them, things like that, you're showing them the book, um, they begin to see that print carries meaning that's in addition to, or different than the illustrations. Research has shown eye gaze research has shown that children, when they're about three years old, um, they'll primarily be looking at the pictures, not the print. When you're reading aloud to them, um, they, they don't find the print worthy of attention yet. And so drawing children's attention to the print helps them to see that, oh, this carries meaning too, and print moves in a certain way, moves from left to right and top to bottom in English, for example. Um, so it's important, a really important one. One really great practice you can use with, um, preschoolers. As I would say this is a great three-year-old practice and has been studied with four-year-olds, is called print referencing. Um, and this was developed by Dr. Laura Justice, who was also my, uh, shout out to her because she was my, um, advisor in, in my doctoral work, um, a hundred years ago, <laugh>. And, um, uh, but this was, this is, she's found that this print referencing technique, drawing children's attention to the print by making comments and pointing, uh, to the print, um, really helps them to start to develop those print concepts and can have lasting, uh, impact on their reading. Kate Winn 00:10:27 And on this topic, I'm curious to know whether you know of any research or if you just have a professional opinion on, um, whether there's any reason to do like, formal assessments of, um, those concepts of print. And one reason I ask is because, um, a board leader at a, at a board, other than my own, ask me to take a look at a big board assessment package that they use with young kids. And, and there were certain things like with my, you know, science of reading knowledge. Now there were certain things I was able to say, no, not this, not that, but then we got to this whole part where they would pull the child like a few minutes per child to, you know, how do you hold a book and where do you turn and all of that. Um, and I know it's important for kids to know those things. Do we, we have any evidence in terms of assessment, like whether it's, you know, predictive at a certain point or whether it's worth a few minutes per child in the class to do that sort of thing. What are your thoughts? Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:11:18 Um, gosh, this is a great question because it's on the kind of that tip of my tongue, um, some of the work around this. Um, but there have been some good assessments of, um, print concepts that have been developed and validated. Um, and some of these items are woven into tests of print knowledge. Um, and those tests are predictive of, uh, future, uh, work. I would say that, um, I would say yes, that I would include some of these items in a larger battery. I would be considering how much is in my battery and when we would be giving this kind of assessment and to whom mm-hmm. <affirmative> would be really important questions. Um, but, um, but I would say that, um, there is, you know, evidence that, um, teaching these print concepts early is related to later reading. So assessing some of those print concepts early would make sense as well. Kate Winn 00:12:20 Okay, great. Um, the third critical area in the book is sound letter linkers. This is one of my favorites, <laugh>. So what does that mean to you then I should mention to you? So, um, IDA Ontario, obviously based in Ontario, Canada, and, um, in our kindergarten program, it's pretty much what in the states would be considered pre-K and K together, sort of the four-year-olds and the five-year-olds in a, in a split program. So thinking about those kind of early learners in school, how do you see that sound letter linking being best done? Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:12:51 Yes, I, I wanna mention something about this chapter because we made a decision around this chapter that was different from prior books on early literacy, and that is we combined the phonological awareness and the alphabet knowledge chapters into this chapter mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that was important to us because the point of the phonological awareness is really to help children get to that pH level and then once they ha and, and is to map it onto the print. Um, so once they have some letter knowledge, um, know some of the letter names and sounds, then doing the phonemic awareness activities with those letters is important. And it will depend on students' development of where they, where they are in their development. But that's why we combine those two. So that was really important for us to combine. One of the pitfalls I think that we, that some sometimes people fall into is they think phonological awareness is lock step. Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:13:57 Like first you start with rhyming and then you move to be beginning sound, or then you, and you move to syllable and the onset rhyme, et cetera. But, um, while it does go from more the larger chunks to like the more complex, smaller individual sounds of language, um, evidence shows that children can be learning sensitivity to multiple areas simultaneously and not necessarily in this lockstep kind of fashion. I would say that probably there was more of this idea of this lockstep fashion about 20 years ago during the reading first days, I was a, I was a reading first, uh, reading coach during that time in, in Oklahoma and Virginia. Um, so there was more of, of that I would say about 20 years ago. But we wanted to make sure we weren't communicating to, to people that you just need to practice rhyming with children until they get it or something. A lot of children don't even get rhyming, but they're able to do other, um, things. So the goal is to move children toward grasping the alphabetic principle or the understanding that what I'm saying can be systematically written down in our, in English from left to right and map on roughly. Kate Winn 00:15:11 And once that sort of formal reading instruction piece starts, um, you know, we've talked about scope and sequence and that kind of thing. Why is it important to be explicit and systematic? And I mean, I'm kind of thinking about the, the equity angle and things like that as well. So even with young learners, once it's time, why is it important that it's, it's explicit and systematic for everyone? Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:15:31 Yes. I think, I think that this is really important and explicit. I wanna say something about explicit and systematic. Sometimes people think of explicit and systematic as like, drill and kill, and those are not the same thing. So there's this, I think, mistake, an idea that it has to be rot and boring if it's going to be explicit and systematic. Everything we talk about in our book is around playful learning, but it can still be explicit and systematic. Explicit means you're explicitly teaching the particular, um, for example, letter, letter name, letter sound in an explicit way, um, in a direct way. Um, you're not waiting for them to just figure it out, that you're actually teaching it to them. And then systematic means you're going by some sort of systematic scope and sequence. Um, and I fully understand that when I defined both of those, I used the word in the definition. So <laugh>, I just wanna say acknowledge. Kate Winn 00:16:30 That's okay. You fleshed it out more. I know what you mean. <laugh>. That's good. And now in Ontario, I know it's very different, different provinces, different states, but our kindergarten program is play-based, so we certainly have an opportunity for a lot of that playfulness. Do you see, um, these coexisting, that we can have play-based times of the day as well as, you know, pockets of more explicit instruction? Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:16:53 I think that yes, I think they can coexist very well, and, um, and even within the play-based times, there can be, um, explicit instructional opportunities going on. Um, for example, um, this is based on the work of, of Susan Neuman and colleagues. Um, uh, one of the things that she studied was when children are playing in centers or play areas, if you add print to that area, what do they do? What do children do? Well, they have more experiences with print, but it gets even more heightened when adults mediate that experience with print for them. So for example, if they're in a restaurant center, the adult might take the, um, take the opportunity to be, uh, the, you know, the waiter or waitress first and, um, write the order. And then a child might, and there could be an opportunity within that, not just for the models literacy to occur there, but also to systematically teach something or explicitly teach something in that moment. Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:18:00 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, I, in preschool, I think a lot about those opportunities that are teachable opportunities for young children. And I think that there is a lot around writing in particular that we can, um, do that will help their literacy in general during many moments. So it's not that we have to separate it out, like this is the play time and this is the literacy time, but these things can exist really well together. We tried to do this in our, uh, our book, this kind of playful, explicit, um, because there's both of these things going on, um, simultaneously. Mm-hmm. Kate Winn 00:18:35 <affirmative> letter names first, or letter sounds first Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:18:39 <laugh>. Well, in our book, we recommend both simultaneously. Yeah. <laugh>. Yeah. Kate Winn 00:18:44 That's good. I wanted to make sure that got out there for all the people who have that question. Um, this next one is even, isn't even a question, but just something that I, I noted in the book that I think is great. Um, you mentioned in terms of things like sound letter sorts, important to ensure that the kids can actually name the picture. And that's one thing I found because I was doing, um, after I did sort of that first sound fluency screening piece than really wanting to work on first sound fluency, but then with some of the pictures, like they don't know what a yak is, so you really have to make sure it's no, that you're actually like, testing the scale or working on the scale that you think you're working on, because if they don't know what the picture is called, it's uh, it's hard for them to do that. So I was glad that was in there. And then the last question I had on this section was, well, first a quote. So it says, research shows that memorization doesn't actually lead to reading. Well, and I know, you know, we know about how that plays in with older kids and reading and, and memorizing words and all that, but you kind of make reference to babies and toddlers too, and the whole, you know, flashcard idea. Why do we not wanna to worry too young about getting our kids to read that way? Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:19:48 I love this question. You, you're picking up all of, I think the very key important points here. Um, flashcard drill is such a big thing, and sight word learning is such a big thing that I'm seeing in preschools today. Um, however, that is not how we learn to read. So we, as skilled readers have thousands and thousands of sight words, words that we can recognize instantly. Yeah. But we didn't learn them through memorizing them. We're not, our brains don't do it that way. Um, it's really the connections that we form between the individual sounds in our language and the letters as we're reading them in text. It's those letter sound connections that we're making, um, that then solidify those individual sounds into units for children. Um, if you have children, um, using a word bank and not everybody would recommend, um, flashcards, I think in our book, we don't recommend it at all. Um, but if you do end up using a word bank, it should be based on words that children already have started already know. So it's, um, rather than words that they're trying to decode or memorize. Um, so I think that making sure to understand, understanding that development of how word learning act, how the site word, word learning is actually works. And to me, the best resource for that is anything by Linnea Ehri, yes. <laugh>. Kate Winn 00:21:17 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yes. You cannot go wrong with her work. The fourth section is called Resourceful Writers. And I know this is one that you, uh, are extra passionate about, and I've been using some of your work in my class, which we will get to. But tell me about how you see resourceful writers in those early literacy years. Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:21:37 I think of writing as a big missed opportunity for literacy development. Um, I've noticed that, um, teachers tend to think of it separately of writing and reading separately. And I don't think it's a fault of the teacher as a, when I was a second grade teacher, I thought of him separately as well. I didn't really understand how writing and reading go hand in hand and how one helps the other. And in this preschool space, I often just see kind of rote writing activities, like write, writing the name over and over again, copying, maybe tracing, um, but not really, uh, helping children to listen for the sounds and words and write down what they're hearing. And a lot of children are ready to, what we call in the book estimate spelling mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, or also known as inventive spellings. Um, we, we like the term estimated because they're not really inventing it. Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:22:32 They're not just making it up out of anything. These all are very logical, um, representations. And when they're starting to estimate spellings, that's a really exciting thing. They have grasped the alphabetic principle. They are understanding how our written language works, and that's a huge, huge, huge milestone. Um, so I think that writing is such an opportunity to develop those, uh, print skills early. Uh, I also think that there's a lot of language development that can take place through writing. So children, as they think about and write about what they are interested in, um, their ideas can flow much more than their pen on the paper. You know, pencil on the paper. And when I say writing, I'm not necessarily talking about pencil to paper all the time. So writing can involve the teacher being the scribe and the child's um, dictating, so child dictated writing, it can involve the child drawing a picture and maybe making some other marks. It can involve them inventing spellings. It can involve, it can involve magnetic letters, it can be writing in the air. There's a lot of different things that could con, could count as writing. But, um, the idea is that you want to attend to the three main areas of writing, which is composing, spelling, and handwriting. But I would say handwriting is really about efficient letter formation and is not about perfect penmanship. Kate Winn 00:24:11 What do you mean? Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:24:11 Because the, I mean that we wanna teach children to efficiently form letters so that they're, they can write fluently, um, their ideas as they're growing older. So it's not necessarily about how it, that it looks perfect. And I think sometimes we focus on that it looks perfect, they need to form the letters correctly so that they can actually efficiently write them, right, um, and that's the more important piece. But in, but in, you know, in the preschool space, they're not writing really on lines yet. And things like, there, there's a lot of writing that's just on blank paper and there's a lot of orientation that they're playing around with. So things might go in a circle or, or be backwards, and they're playing around with these things. So thinking about the restrictions that we're placing on children on what constitutes writing is important, and how do we free up some of those restrictions so that we can really help their literacy grow. Kate Winn 00:25:12 It's amazing that we're on the same wavelength with, with this conversation, because I'm thinking, okay, estimated spelling covered that check, composing, spelling, handwriting. Yes. She talked about that <laugh>. So I don't need to to prompt any further. I do wanna talk though about your rising star process, this idea of scaffolding with young kids writing. And I can say that when I first saw this, you know, online, I printed it out and I kind of made myself a little cheat sheet all on one page with, with prompts and all of that. And it, it was a really big help to me in my class this year. So could you speak a little bit about that please? Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:25:42 Well, thank you so much. I'm so excited that it was, um, help. It's helpful to you. You know, um, my colleague Stephanie Copp, um, w you know, who led this uh, work, she, uh, was, uh, a doctoral student of mine at the University of Virginia, now is a professor, uh, assistant professor at the, at Lynchburg, um, at the University of Lynchburg. Um, and this also included my colleagues Clariebelle Gabas and Debbie Slick and Jenny Paqua. But, uh, the idea of this was that we wanted to help teachers understand how they can help children in the moment mm-hmm. <affirmative> in teachable moments. So this wasn't about laying out, uh, this article, which is available open resource freely to anybody. Uh, this article was not about, um, you must do your writing in this certain way, but rather as children are writing, how do you support them? Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:26:39 Because each one of them is different in their ability. Everybody's not gonna be in the same place at the same time. And particularly in classrooms, you're talking about that combines, um, fours and fives or threes, fours and fives, you're going to find a wide range, uh, where some children are, um, drawing and they, they think their drawing represents the writing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, sometimes they might be scribbling, um, sometimes they might be writing with letter like forms. Sometimes they're writing with, um, salient sounds or sounds that they hear in words that's exciting because of the alpha, you know, grasping the alphabet principle. And then sometimes some of them are writing with beginning and ending sounds. And that's amazing that that would be an amazing place for them to be at the end of the preschool four year old year. Um, and, um, so how do you help them where they are and move them to the next place? This is why we did this, um, kind of scaffolding decision guides so that teachers would start by letting children think, think about how, you know, help them think about the, what sound comes next, and not just giving them the sounds. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:27:53 We saw a lot of that, a lot in our research is that, um, sometimes teachers would be more likely to just give children the next sound or spell a word for them without letting them think about it. So really, um, Stephanie and I were concerned about like, how do we really help teachers to help children think. Kate Winn 00:28:10 Yeah, no, I love that. And I just love, you know, there's like the, um, the visuals that kind of show, like sample levels of development. And so what I did was I just got my kids to do a sample piece for me. Um, I started this after Christmas of last school year, and they did a little sample piece. And so then I could kind of say, okay, these kids are here and these kids are here, so next time, what am I gonna try to do? And then, like you say in the moment and getting them thinking, which was great. Um, and a little success story for you is one little child in my class the entire year, you know, the sweetest thing, but letter sound connection, not really. There could maybe copy, like if I, I wrote could copy underneath, but not really getting what was going on. Kate Winn 00:28:52 And just, uh, towards the end of the year we were, uh, doing a writing piece and I said, okay, draw your picture. And, and the child drew their picture and I said, okay, so what are you going to write about your picture? And, and they said, cheetah. And I said, okay, great. And, and so how are you going to write that? And, and the child said, cheetah, like, yes. And so how are you going to spell it? And the child said, ch like chair. And I said, yep, that's right. And went over to the sound wall where we've got the keyword for the ch sound is the picture of the chair, and then went back and copied the C and the H onto their, onto their page. So I mean, as you said, if that's where we're getting some kids by the end of that, and, and in this case it was sort of that pre-K you would call it here mm-hmm. Kate Winn 00:29:34 <affirmative>. But I, I considered that success. And I also, what I try to do too is I find from one day of writing to the next day, or maybe we don't get back to, you know, our journal task for a couple days or whatever. So not only giving the feedback in the moment, but then the goal before we start the next time. So as I'm handing out the booklets, I'll say, okay, Owen, Susie's gonna work on spaces between her words today. Oh. And you know, so and so is going to work on, you know, really stretching out those sounds or whatever because you can't write feedback and that they're going to actually be able to use the next time or anything. Right. So, and they may not even remember what you told them to do last time. So I, I try to do that too, which I, I feel kind of, um, enhanced what, what I was doing with your work as well. But no, the, uh, link to it in the show notes as well, of course, the Rising Star Scaffolding Guide because it's excellent. Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:30:23 Thank you. And I love, I love the example that you shared of, of the cheetah. Um, exactly, exactly. I love you hit the nail on the head. Um, we are just trying to help each child move forward and have, and encourage our, encourage children to take the next step in their development rather than assuming all children are at the same place. Um, and in doing so, you're, you're differentiating mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, for children where they are. Kate Winn 00:30:55 Yeah, absolutely. All right. The fifth area in the book is Text Comprehends. And I know we can get into some interesting stuff here too. So tell me, how do you see text comprehends in these early years of schooling? Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:31:09 Well, I think text comprehension, again, when we think about the simple view of reading and the language comprehension portion, it's really about really understanding those texts. Um, not just everyday language. So this formal language of texts. Um, and I think, you know, one of the, the best ways to make sure to introduce, um, one of the best instructional methods for text comprehension has to be the read aloud and the interactive read aloud. Now in Read alouds, the research has shown that it's not only the book that or book sets that you're using, but it's also the extra textual talk or the talk that occurs outside of the book itself, that teachers are children, engaging children. So those conversations that happen before, during, and after the reading experience matter and a lot after reading is where you can get into a lot of discussion about the, um, about books, um, and about really understanding. Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:32:18 Um, we have a lot of things in this, in, in this chapter, but one of the things I wanna highlight is the importance of informational text. Um, so informational texts, uh, are those that inform or, uh, you know, tell us something about the natural or social world. Um, they might also be how-to types of texts, uh, but they're giving us some information and these are the kinds of texts that children will need to be able to read in their textbooks later on. We tend to just give them early access to just narrative texts or story stories are important too. However, they need to see a variety of text structures. And, you know, a lot of standards now have 50 up to 50%, uh, informational, uh, texts at the earliest levels at, in the ki in kindergarten and above, um, that children are exposed to these. Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:33:12 And that's, that's really important in addition to just the type of text you wanna think about developing text sets. And this is where building knowledge comes in, because our comprehension doesn't just rely on, um, what's on the page or what we gleaned from a given text. We use our background knowledge that we already have about a topic to learn from that book and to not only to understand it, but to gain new knowledge from it. If we don't have the background knowledge, we won't really understand the book or the text. And that's why systematically building children's knowledge about the world around them, both the natural and social world. So science and social studies becomes really important very early on, right from the beginning. Um, you're building understandings about the, the natural and social world that will lead to the kinds of knowledge that they need, um, as they continue on in school. Um, so text sets are, are a good way to do that developing. And they don't all have to be informational text. You might have some informational text, you might have some mixed genre that have some informational component, some narrative component, and you might have some narrative components within that, um, text set that systematically or incrementally build knowledge for children. Kate Winn 00:34:33 I know at the end of this past school year, um, the inquiry we were doing was all on building and construction and, and all of that. And so I always keep this idea of tech sets in mind and all of the first ones people recommended to me, cuz I like to ask on Twitter if people have recommendations, right? Because if educators can put a stamp of approval on a book, then that's helpful. Um, but so many different narrative, like neat narrative picture books about kids in building and all of that. And so then it was a case of kind of finding some of that non-fiction to work in, you know, how do strong and stable structures work and, and a lot of that like info that I wanted them to get out of that too. But, um Right. I love that idea of, of the tech sets. Kate Winn 00:35:08 And I know you were also on the scientific advisory committee for the Knowledge Matters campaign. Yes. So this is, uh, this is certainly an area of, of interest and work for you too, so that's great. Um, the last thing I wanna ask you, so moving away from the book now is just I know that you are a parent and I'm just curious to know, you are a lot of your, your work and research and things began before you became a parent. Yes. How did any of that change? I mean, certainly we know the working mother kind of angle, but in terms of actually how you thought about reading research or maybe your areas of interest or mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, did having a child and kind of seeing that process start change anything for you? Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:35:44 Yes. That, that was, that's a great question because, let's see, my child is eight years old and I started doing research, um, gosh, I started my doctoral program in 2005 and finished my doctoral program in 2009. So I start, my, started doing research as early as 2005. Um, and I had my son in 2015. But what it really taught me was when I had him, I began to really learn what I believed mattered about development, because what was I doing with my child? And what really stood out to me is how much I believed that language plays a critical foundation in reading and sets the stage. And so to me, I couldn't, I taught everybody around me to develop techniques to develop his language. I taught them to have conversations with him before he was able to have conversations. I taught them I, I, I, I, um, continually would ta um, talk with him and then narrate some of the things I was doing. Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:36:53 Um, I've heard a parent say one time, huh, we talk a lot with the adults, talk a lot with each other, but we're not really talking with our child. So this, instead of talking at your child or just exposing them to language around them, it's really the interaction that matters. And I realized after I had my child, I realized how much I believed that. So to me it brought to light, like the importance even more of language development. And it, and really that has been a critical part of my, um, research is how do we strengthen children's language in a way that will strengthen their reading. Kate Winn 00:37:33 Yeah. Well, before I let you go, I just need to ask you, what are you working on now and where can listeners find you if they want to learn more? Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:37:41 Well, um, I, um, want to, uh, kind of put a, put a plug in for a, a book that was just released, um, by Guilford called The Handbook on the Science of Early Literacy. It is, um, a volume that I edited along with my colleague Susan Neuman and Nicole Patton Terry. Um, and it is, uh, comprised of, uh, about 32 or 33 chapters of really cutting edge research, um, with the audience of, um, researchers, doctoral students, literacy leaders, um, and, um, you know, those who lead teachers, some if, if teachers are interested in research, reading the research themselves, this would be a great volume as well. Um, and so I just wanted to, to put that out there. Um, I also want to say that we have a lot of great resources on, uh, the Florida Center for Reading Researcher research website. So, uh, fcr r.org. And I encourage you to kind of check out the resources that are available there. Kate Winn 00:38:55 That's great. And we will link to all of that of course, uh, in our show notes. And I will mention that as we're recording this episode a little bit in advance, my pre-ordered copy of that book has not yet arrived <laugh>, but I'm sure that is going to be, uh, be my summer reading and I can't wait for that. Um, Dr. Sonia Cabell, thank you so much for being here. Dr. Sonia Cabell 00:39:14 Thank you for having me. It's been a pleasure. Kate Winn 00:39:17 Show notes for this episode with all the links and information you need can be found at podcast.idaontario.com. And you have been listening to episode two of Reading Road Trip with Sonia Cabell as our guest. If early literacy is of particular interest to you, we will also link to the webinar I did last summer for IDA Ontario called Structured Literacy in Kindergarten: Five Key Changes that made All My Students Readers. We were blown away by the educators who gave up time on their holidays to watch - more than 1000 attended live. And it has since been viewed more than 9,000 times on YouTube. And just before the school year ended, I got a lovely message from a teacher on Twitter who reached out to say, your IDA webinar on the structured literacy changes you made to your kindergarten program was monumental for improving our programming. This year. Kate Winn 00:40:09 I made the same goal to have all of my SKs reading by the end of the year, which felt way too ambitious and frankly unachievable. I got most there by November, which was months sooner than any previous year than everyone there except one by January. And when she sent me this message in June, the very last student had just read their first book. So it's so nice to get those messages and if that is something that interests you, we will have that linked in the show notes for today's episode. And now it is time for that typical end of the podcast call to action. If you enjoy 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. Kate Winn 00:40:53 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. 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. I'm Kate Wynn and along with my co co-producer Una Malcolm, we hope this episode of Reading Road Trip has made your path to evidence-based literacy instruction just a little bit clearer and a lot more fun. Join us next time for another fantastic guest interview here on Reading Road Trip.

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