S3 E2: Reading Science Surprises with Anna Geiger

S3 E2: Reading Science Surprises with Anna Geiger
Reading Road Trip
S3 E2: Reading Science Surprises with Anna Geiger

Jul 08 2024 | 00:43:18

Episode 2 July 08, 2024 00:43:18

Hosted By

IDA Ontario Kate Winn

Show Notes

This week, Kate welcomes fellow podcaster Anna Geiger from The Measured Mom. As two teachers who have shifted from balanced literacy to structured literacy, this episode is filled with candid discussion as Kate and Anna highlight the biggest surprises they encountered along the way!

Anna is the CEO of The Measured Mom, host of Triple R Teaching, and the author of the soon-to-be released book, Reach All Readers: Using the Science of Reading to Transform Your Literacy Instruction.

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Episode Transcript

Anna Transcript [00:00:01] Sold A Story Promo: All over the country. We need to improve reading. In Wisconsin, schools are changing the way they teach reading. I'm calling for a renewed focus on literacy. We have gotten this wrong in New York and all across the nation, and it's happening because of a podcast. I think your podcast has changed my life, and I'm going to share this podcast with everyone I meet. Sold A Story investigates how teaching kids to read went wrong. New episodes of Sold A Story are available now. [00:00:36] Kate Winn: 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 podcast, Reading Road Trip. Welcome to the second episode of season three. Before we get started, we would like to acknowledge that we are recording this podcast from the traditional land of the Mississauga Anishinaabe. 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 picture book Beautiful You, Beautiful Me, written by Tasha Spillett Sumner and illustrated by Salini Perera and recommended to us on Twitter or X by Teach Me Ontario. Izzy's favorite place to be is in Mama's arms, skin to skin, safe and warm. One night, cuddled up on Mama's lap, Izzy notices something she's never noticed before. Her skin is the color of chocolate, but Mama's skin is the color of sand. When Izzy realizes she's different from Mama in other ways, too, she feels sad and confused. She wants to be beautiful like Mama. But Mama addresses Izzy's disappointment with a gentle, loving refrain. You're part of me and I'm part of you. I'm beautiful like me and you're beautiful like you. Finding lessons from nature and repeating her affirming message, Mama encourages Izzy to see her own unique beauty. This story about a multiracial child navigating identity and belonging draws from author Tasha Spillett's own experience growing up as an Afro-Indigenous girl. Lyrical text and warm, lively illustrations show Izzy's journey as she learns to celebrate the differences that make her uniquely beautiful and the connection to her mother that transcends physical traits. Add this one to your home or classroom library today. In each episode this season, we're also going to share a review for Reading Road Trip from the Apple podcasts app. This week, we want to thank Shan Beck for so kindly posting the following: a teacher's favorite podcast. Love listening on my way into work. I love that it is based in Ontario. However, we get some perspective of those who are in different regions and even in the US. Thank you Shan Beck and everyone who leaves us a rating and or a review. Every single one is so appreciated. And now, just before we begin, I want to note that we make reference to our guest's brand new book in today's interview and we want you all to know that that book will be released in just a couple of weeks, so you can pre order now. [00:03:22] Kate Winn: I'm so pleased to introduce our guest here this week on Reading Road Trip. Anna Geiger has classroom experience from first through fifth grade. After earning her master's degree in curriculum and instruction, she began caring for her children at home. Now Anna serves educators through her website, The Measured Mom, where she shares hands on lessons, thoughtful articles and printable resources. Anna is Orton Gillingham certified and has a reading science graduate certificate from Mount St. Joseph University. She hosts a weekly podcast which I love called Triple R Teaching, and she provides thousands of resources to members of her membership site for pre k to third grade educators. Welcome to the show, Anna. [00:04:02] Anna Geiger: Thank you so much. I'm so pleased to be here. [00:04:05] Kate Winn: You also are a brand new author. Your book, Reach All Readers is hot off the press and I was very honored you asked me to provide an endorsement for that, so I thought I would share that with listeners, too. What I had to say about your book: Reach All Readers is a gift for elementary teachers and their students. Anna Geiger deftly packs the what, why, and how of the science of reading into one user friendly, empowering book that you'll keep coming back to again and again. [00:04:31] Anna Geiger: Thank you so much for that. [00:04:32] Kate Winn: Congratulations on that book, Anna. So I'm so glad to have you here speaking with me today. We're both teachers, both podcasters, both parents. We have a lot in common, including a lot of similarities in our science of reading learning journey. So we thought it might be fun in this episode if you and I go back and forth and share some of the biggest surprises for us throughout this road trip, as we would say, and how they have impacted us. So are you ready? [00:04:56] Anna Geiger: I'm ready. Let's go. [00:04:57] Kate Winn: All right. I am going to kick us off with the first surprise for me, which is the idea of bullseye science. So there's science and then on the other end there's opinion, but there's also opinion about science, right? [00:05:11] Anna Geiger: Yes. [00:05:11] Kate Winn: And you write in your book you share Steve Dykstra's explanation of Bullseye science, that it tells us some things, but as he says that you quote, you just can't, sorry, you can't just teach in the bullseye. There isn't enough there to get the job done. You're going to have to make choices and decisions with the best evidence and reasoning available. And before I had a knowledge base myself, well, I mean, way before I had a knowledge base, everything I was using was more that philosophy based and vibes based and all of that. Right. But then when I started diving into the research, being able to distinguish between the experts and their research and expert opinion. Right. And just. Yeah. Just trying to distinguish between those things and which things you really must follow if you want to be following an evidence base, but which things are just, you know, regular human beings sharing interpretations of things. This is a little story that I've never shared before, but I had tweeted, I think it was a couple of years ago now, tweeted a picture of my students at the carpet, and they had their whiteboards and they had done a sentence dictation. So there are these four and five year olds that had written sentences with whiteboard markers, and they were kind of holding them up. And I took the picture from behind for privacy and tweeted it out, so proud. And someone who I didn't know, quote, tweeted and said, you know, students should be learning to write, sitting at desks with their feet on the floor properly and their arms should be at the right angle and whatever. I didn't really know this person. That was okay. But then someone who I really respect in the research world retweeted that and basically added in something to the effect of, like, you know, you said it and I was devastated. But it took me a while to come to the fact that that person doesn't have any research to show that I damaged those students. [00:06:58] Anna Geiger: Yep. [00:06:58] Kate Winn: By, you know, like I said, having these young kids doing sentence dictations at the carpet and so many, you know, practical classroom reasons for doing that. Location of my smart board and where we sit at the carpet and what tables and chairs we have available to us and the fact that I, like, wipe off for a certain reason when we're chaining and all of those things. Right. And so even when there are some of those experts, we really, really trust their research, but then even they can sometimes have opinions. But I know there are people, you know, for example, Holly Lane gives a lot of advice about UFLI. Well, she co created it, so she really knows a lot about it, but she'll even say certain things like people will say, well, what kind of letter magnets do you think we should use? And she'll come right out and say, well, my opinion is, or, you know, what I think is probably better. And so I actually switched the style that I was using. I was using more of the time style and I switched to the more 3D, chunky style based on her advice. But she doesn't try to come out and say, you know, you're doing it wrong because science says if you do it the other way. But I feel like you have to come a little bit further in your journey to feel comfortable enough, kind of discerning right between those things. So I appreciate it when those kind of experts can offer advice and clarify. And I know you wrote about this, the teacher's job is to learn the science and make the best possible teaching decisions in light of it. So I think that was a really key learning for me and something that has continued to evolve over time. [00:08:23] Anna Geiger: Yeah, I definitely agree with that because, well, when I first started learning about the science of reading and I got in the big Facebook groups, it was extremely upsetting to me that we were disagreeing about things. I thought, I thought we all knew. I thought we all knew the science. Why can't we just all agree? Isn't this all proven? But at that time, I didn't understand the bull's eye science concept either. I agree with what you said. It takes time. It takes time to figure out what's actually proven by science or, quote, proven by science. Very supported by science versus things we have opinions on. I actually got into a big discussion with someone on my Facebook page about syllable types. And I was like, I personally think at this point in my journey that I think syllable types are a good thing to do. But I said, there's different opinions about this. Here's a blog post I wrote. There's not a lot of research on it, but here's some different ideas. And someone came back at me and pretty much said, you're right, wrong. Every science of reading program, I think that's how she, what she said uses syllable types. I said, well, that's actually not true. There are different approaches. There's speech to print approaches and they don't use syllable types. And there is not actually a lot of research on this. And she said, I said, you have a study you could point me to? And she said, well, go to Google scholar, something will come up. So anyway, we kind of ended the conversation, but we I think exhaust ourselves or put an unreasonable expectation on ourself when we're trying to find research to prove everything, because like you said, there just isn't exactly. [00:09:48] Kate Winn: Okay, you are going to share the next reading science surprise. Talk to us about three cueing. [00:09:54] Anna Geiger: Yeah. So that was what brought me into the world of the science of reading, because that was the foundation of how I taught reading in the primary grades. So it was, we used the leveled, predictable books, because I believe that that's how adult readers read. I believe that, you know, that's how we figure out words. We use three different cues. Therefore, it made sense to teach kids to read that way. I didn't have much room for decodable books, maybe a little bit of that, but I didn't think that that was real valuable. And so when I read Emily Hanford's article, the 2019 one at a loss for words three cueing is basically the heart of that article about why that's a problem and how it's even damaging. And when I read that, first of all, I knew she had to be wrong. There's no way she could be right, because I'd been taught this. It made sense. I taught it to people. I mean, it makes sense. It's, you know, just. Just does. But when I tried to find something to back up my point of view, I couldn't find anything. And instead, I had people sharing with me other things, like Seidenberg's book, language at the speed of sight, and a bunch of other books. So I started looking into it, and then I basically was a combination of things. When I understood orthographic mapping, this idea that we store words for future retrieval by combining sounds, letters, and meanings, that was a big one for me, because now I understood that those predictable books where they were just using partial phonics to get to those words, they weren't mapping them. They weren't reading them out of context, which I would have known, but I didn't think that was important. I thought, well, the important thing is that they get the meaning out of this book, right, because comprehension is the goal. But I didn't understand that the goal of that reading practice should be working toward mapping words, like learning to recognize words. And if I was bypassing orthographic mapping, what exactly was the point of these books? And then also understanding about how, through phonemic awareness and phonics, explicitly teaching that we're building the appropriate circuits in the brain. But if we're focusing on three cueing, we're actually training an inadequate circuit in the right hemisphere. That was all just kind of mind blowing. So that's really what started my journey into learning more, and that is a big one. [00:11:49] Kate Winn: And I like how you just mentioned the brain piece, too, because for me, when I learned about that, there are some things that they're not harmful, they're just not that effective. And we might be wasting our time a little bit, but you can actually be, you know, not doing the greatest wiring if you have kids establishing these bad habits. Right. Like the habits of bad readers, the habits of struggling readers. So, you know, harmful might be a dramatic way to put it, but it's not just ineffective. It's actually something undesirable that we don't want to be doing. [00:12:17] Anna Geiger: Yeah. And also when people said to me, it. So for me, what was hard was, I thought it was, it looked like it was working. And for people to finally acknowledge, for someone to acknowledge that, to me, yes, it, quote, works or looks like it's working, but then when they get to third, 4th, 5th grade, they lose those pictures. A lot of kids don't have, doesn't work for them. They don't have the phonics knowledge to figure out these longer words, the pictures are gone. They kind of guess through longer words. That was. I really appreciated that, first of all, that someone acknowledged that, yes, it does seem to work for some kids. Now. Does it work really great. That's a whole other discussion. But balance literacy. Some kids do learn to read that way, but many kids don't. And I didn't get to see that because I was only teaching first and second grade and I wasn't communicating with the other teachers to find out how I was doing. So that was good, too. [00:13:03] Kate Winn: Yeah, exactly. Once those pictures go, it's a little bit harder to guess based on the picture. You can't use your eagle eye the way I was telling them to in kindergarten. We're lucky. Here in Ontario, I know there are so many provinces and of course, many states who are trying to find their feet in terms of the science of reading. But because of our Right to Read Inquiry, that came out right in it, right in the recommendations, it said, remove all references to three, cueing from the curriculum standards, from resources. So that is out, which is nice for us here. [00:13:35] Anna Geiger: Yeah, we're working on that here, too. I know, Wisconsin. That's a brand new thing, too. [00:13:40] Kate Winn: I'm going to jump to my next reading science surprise, which was phonemic awareness. So first of all, the existence of it. Right. [00:13:47] Anna Geiger: Exactly. [00:13:49] Kate Winn: The research and advice being honed. So kind of we'll touch back on the bullseye science idea. So when I started teaching kindergarten, I did not know about phonemic and phonological awareness. We had the phonemic awareness and young children book by Marilyn Adams as one of the many different resources. So that wasn't a bad thing. And I did use some of her activities randomly, certainly did lots of the larger phonological pieces of syllables and rhyming and things, thinking that I needed to. I also thought that if we hadn't mastered rhyme, then they probably weren't ready for the phoneme piece, the sound piece you note in your book. We need to let go of the idea that rhyming is an essential pre reading skill because research evolves. But it's not even just that the research evolves for some of these things. The research has been there. It's the interpretation and kind of how to put that into practice, that the advice is evolving and just getting it into teachers hands. So when I finally did learn about what all of this was and that it should be a little bit more, you know, explicit and systematic, I completely overcorrected. So I won't name names, but I did use, you know, an oral only phonemic awareness program. You know, it was really good for me in terms of professional development. It taught me a lot about phonological awareness and phonemic awareness. The kids enjoyed it. I used it. The biggest chunk of time I used it was when we were doing virtual learning. And so for kindergarten students, we didn't keep them on all day long. We had just a period of time live in the morning and a period of time live in the afternoon. It was a nice thing to do. Like, when I could see their faces, they didn't always have their mics on, but I could at least see, you know, that they were participating and moving along with things. So, again, I don't think it was harmful, but that doesn't mean that it's worthy of that, you know, essential, important time in our literacy block. So while it was good learning, I know now that it's not necessary to have those big chunks of oral only. So I have evolved from there. Also, the idea of incorporating letters. Right. That, yeah, you can do a little bit of oral blending and segmenting. That's okay, because those are important skills, like the isolating, blending, segmenting. Right. They do need to have that, but introducing letters right away. So I think that's another misunderstanding that's been out there that, you know, there's some sort of level of mastery on the oral level that needs to come first. And then they're ready for letters. We know now that's not the case right now. I only use UFLI for my phonemic awareness. And they have at the beginning of each lesson a little oral only blending and segmenting. I timed myself one day when someone was, you know, I think it was probably for a Facebook group discussion about, you know, the wasted time on oral only. And I said, well, it took me 45 seconds today to do that, so I think that's okay. And also incorporating some of the sounds where they haven't learned the graphemes yet. Right. Like it's going to be for UFLI They introduce what that day's graphene is going to be by including that sound in their, in their little piece of oral only phonemic awareness. But I want to make note of the fact that. So here in Ontario, of course, kindergarten is a pre K/K mix. So these four and five year olds, some of them come in at three years old. So I use Acadience to screen my year two kindergartens and up, but the year ones are pre K equivalent. And so I used the Acadience PELI to screen them. And when I did their mid year screening, every single student of the 19 of my year one kindergarten was at benchmark. And there is no above benchmark in PELI. It's just at every single one was at benchmark for phonemic awareness. So I think people who think, oh, we have to have all this oral, and then I'm gonna pull out my oral program and then I'm gonna do my phonics program and whatever. You can be pretty successful in getting kids where they need to be with just the oral piece. So that was really a big learning curve and continues to be right as the advice evolves. But the fact that phonemic awareness exists in the first place, but then also that advice on how to best teach and how to most effectively teach it, a really key, key learning for me. [00:17:42] Anna Geiger: I think it's simpler than we thought it was at first, right? [00:17:45] Kate Winn: Yes. Yeah, for sure. Okay, next surprise from you, let's talk explicit instruction. [00:17:52] Anna Geiger: Yeah. So I. I'm not exactly sure how we learned this, if this was what was taught to me in college or from all the books I read. I think probably a combination, but I don't even know if I would have called it constructivism, but I thought that students learned best when they construct their own meaning, when they discover things for themselves. And I was definitely not a fan of direct explicit instruction, mainly because to me that sounded boring and I became a teacher because I love, you know, especially a reading teacher because I loved books and I love to be creative. And this seemed like that was, was going to take away that creativity for me if I had to follow some kind of a routine or a pattern or, heaven forbid, a script. And so I was definitely opposed to those things. And what I didn't realize, though, is that we have loads of research supporting explicit instruction. And, you know, I've learned, of course, about project follow through, which shows that students learn basic skills and more than just basic skills, but that's a focus of that best when taught explicitly and systematically. And also from Anita Archer, I've learned that explicit instruction, when done well, is anything but boring. She's extremely, it's extremely interactive. It's engaging when you do it right. And I think that's, as a teacher, that is something that you get to keep honing, getting good at that, because that takes a lot of practice, getting the pacing down and the choral responses. But it really does help take care of a lot of behavior issues. I was just in a school a week or two ago in Wisconsin, and they just, they invited me to come see all the progress they've made with their switching over to teaching according to the science of reading and having a lot more explicit instruction. And they're really, I mean, you know, kids were squirmy and things as kids are, but there really weren't any behavior problems during these periods of their day when I was there, not, not a single one. And they mentioned that afterwards when we talked about it, that when everyone knows what's happening and everyone's expected to participate and they stop if people aren't participating and pull them back in, it really took care of that for them. So there's so many benefits to it. But a big one, of course, is that the kids learn better. And we don't have to be afraid of things like scripted programs as long as we're educated ourselves. Right? Like, we can see if something's not working and we understand what to do about it. It doesn't have to take away the teacher's agency or the teacher's creativity, but it can provide a support for everyone. Those routines are good for the teacher and for the kids, and it also can make it easier to see when someone isn't getting something to. [00:20:18] Kate Winn: Mm hmm. Well, and I like how you made the point that, you know, yes, they learn better, but it doesn't have to be boring. Like, I think for some teachers, maybe they even believe, or believe, depending where they are in the journey that it might be more effective, but it's just so boring and it's drilling kill. And I don't want to teach like that, and I don't want to put my students through that. But that's not what it is, or it certainly isn't what it has to be. Like. They can learn best that way and it can be engaging and even fun. Right? Like, we're not making everything fun games and play, but you can do things in an engaging way that keeps them going. So it's not a case of do we want to bore them and they learn, or do we want them to have fun and maybe not learn. That's not really the dichotomy that we're looking at. I'm going to go back to you for your next surprise in reading science, and you're going to take us into the world of comprehension. [00:21:12] Anna Geiger: Yeah. So, of course I felt that, I knew that comprehension was important. It was the goal of reading, and to me that was the thing that I was most focused on. So I know way back in the sixties, Jean Chall did her research to see which was most important, starting or which was more effective, starting reading instruction with a code emphasis or a meaning emphasis. I'm sure I read somewhere or heard someone say somewhere in a podcast, I think I read it, that she expected the meaning emphasis approach to be the most effective, which is what I thought was most effective. However, through all of her looking at all these different studies and visiting classrooms and examining programs, she found out that actually the code first approach was most effective. And that is just that. Not that we're against comprehension, but we're teaching students to learn the code, and then as they become fluent with that, then the comprehension occurs. However. So that's what I thought. I thought, I'm just going to focus. I'm going to, I'm going to give them these predictable leveled books so they can get to comprehension right away. So I was trying to do meaning first, and I thought that was where comprehension was at. And as they advanced, comprehension happened. When we talked about books, what I didn't understand first of all was that that meaning emphasis first was basically like they would say, putting the cart before the horse, like I was trying to jump too far ahead. There was something else they had to do first. And what I also didn't understand when doing comprehension work in the middle grades or, you know, even with read alouds, is that there's so much more to it than just talking about the story. And that's, that's one part. And we do want to talk about the books that we read, but I just was looking for information on literature circles. Like, if I could just figure out how to do good literature circles, if I could just get them, if I could just get them talking about the right questions, then they would understand it. But I didn't. I didn't understand that there's so much to understanding a particular text. So just for an example, my husband and I were reading. It was a devotion, actually, together. And we finished it, and I was like, wow, I don't really remember anything. You just read like, it didn't make any sense to me. And I looked at it closely, and because I'd been studying all this, I was like, there's no text structure in this thing. There was just a lot of rambling, like it. I couldn't figure out how to put it all together. And so that's one thing, understanding that text structure. If kids understand text structure, they have a better way to fit the information that they're reading. They have a better way of learning and remembering it. And the other thing is, which I didn't give any thought to at all, was the complexity of individual sentences. So whether you're reading aloud or they're reading it, when you introduce multiple phrases, you know, dependent clauses, you know, mixing things up, passive voice, all of that, that makes sentences more difficult. So understanding all those things we learned back in grammar, you know, phrases, clauses, is important, not necessarily to drill it into our students brains, but to see, oh, this is. This might be a hard sentence. We're going to have to slow down, and I'm going to ask supportive questions to see if it makes sense to them and break it down for them. And then another one would be cohesive ties. That was a new thing for me that I learned about in Deb Glaser's teaching tools, top ten teaching tools, way back when, when she still had that, where there's so many words that connect to earlier sentences or earlier parts of a sentence, I never give any thought to that at all because I've always been a pretty strong reader. So I didn't. I didn't have to think about that. But understanding that this could trip kids up, and then finally, the idea of writing about what you read. So I've believed very strongly in writing workshop. That's always what I use in all my years of teaching, and I still think there are that. I don't think all of writing workshop is bad, but what I thought was we had to have this special time every day with a lot of writing and trying to fit it in other times was inefficient and basically not useful. But what I didn't understand was that even these short bursts of writing about your reading is what helps improve your comprehension. So that is valuable to do, even a simple one sentence summary about a text. Valuable. And so those are some changes I've made in understanding comprehension. [00:25:09] Kate Winn: My next surprise ties into comprehension as well, and that is the role of strategies. And I don't even know if I've got it right yet, but for the first few years of my career, I wasn't in English classrooms. So I taught core French, which is a national second language or one of our two languages, I should say, here in Canada. And then I taught gifted education. So at the time that I became an English homeroom teacher, reading strategies were all the rage, right? So to actually focus on a strategy for the strategy, and I have talked about this before on the show, but we would do things like have a divisional focus on strategies. So October is predicting. So we would do some kind of pretest on predicting, and then we'd meet, and we'd talk about the pretest, and then we'd gather together all the picture books that we thought might lend themselves to predicting, and we'd use those, and then we'd do some kind of post test. And did they learn to predict? Yes or no? Can we check that box? Right. I have learned through science that that is not the most effective way to use strategies. I've done a lot of learning about it. Luckily, I did not overcorrect here, as I think maybe some people have done with this, where it's like, oh, reading comprehension strategies are bad. Let's not do them anymore. No, we know a lot about reading comprehension strategies being essential, useful, effective, knowledge building important, too. Again, not an either or dichotomy like so many of these things have become, but just sort of a different approach to, I mean, like, we know some things that are really important, like the self questioning and the summarizing and lots of different things with research, you know, effectiveness to support that. In chapter eight of your book, you write that you went about this the same way I did originally, wanting kids to master strategy rather than the content. And you said I should have started with a quality text and then chosen one or more strategies to help students understand it. Like, bingo right there. And you have a great chart with some evidence based strategies. Like, you know, I mentioned a couple, but as well, comprehension monitoring, recognizing text structure. You mentioned in your last surprise, which you then go into more detail about. So I think that would be really helpful. You know, if any listeners wanting to delve a little bit more into that, I find in kindergarten think alouds can be so good for this. So I try to choose my books. Like I do text sets around things we're studying. So, you know, as the school year wrapped up, we were studying plants, for example, so, you know, picture books and non fiction books. And we did a chapter book, even a Zooey and sassafras book that connected to plants, which is all great, but as a strategy becomes, you know, kind of apparent or necessary in the book, you can stop and use it yourself, right? Like, wait a second, I don't think I understand this part. I'm going to go back and make sure I understand this right. Or maybe there's something that really lends itself to visualizing. Or often I'll say to the kids, okay, the next chapter tomorrow. You know, just recently I said, the next chapter is called what's that smell? So then let's make a prediction. What do we think that smell is going to be? And the funny thing is, I automatically assumed, what's that smell was bad. And a kid raised her hand. She's like, misses Wynn. It could be a good smell. Yes, it could be. So then we made a prediction. Do you think it's a good smell or a bad smell? But it's not that I had in my head. Okay, today I've got a cross predicting off on the list. You use it when it's going to be helpful as a reader. So in kindergarten, I have to start modeling that. And then hopefully, as they start to become independent, you know, code, code breakers themselves, and they're doing that reading themselves, then they're able to then use them. But of course, they still require some instruction and some weaving in to what we're doing in all through the grades. Turn it back to you for your next surprise. Oh, you're going to talk about levels. [00:28:37] Anna Geiger: Yeah. So I think I, if someone would have asked me, how do you measure the success of your instruction and the reading work that your students have done throughout the year? I would have probably said, well, first of all, I would have said, do they love reading? Because that was like the number one thing, right? Even though you can't measure that at all. And then I would have said, if they've advanced appropriately through the levels, right? Have they made progress? The way I taught reading was a really more individualized approach. So I had my mini lessons, and then I, I measured their levels through running records and then, or assess their levels, assign their levels, and then they would read a lot of these books on their own. And I did some small group work, but a lot of it was independent, and I would move around and give conferences. And so what I didn't understand was that the levels are arbitrary. And of course, once you understand that three cueing is not backed by research, that kind of pulls the rug out from under the Fountas & Pinnell levels, because they're based on three cueing. Like, you can't read, read. I put in quotes those early levels without three cueing, unless your kindergartners have some crazy advanced phonics skills, because most of those words, many of those words you can't decode with a CVC level of reading. And then also, I don't know, I just really trusted Fountas and Pinnell. I guess I assumed these levels were scientific or whatever. I don't even know. I wasn't really thinking about science, but they just made sense to me, which I should have figured out that. That. That there was a problem here, because so, so often I'd be leveling books in my library, and one was an e, and this one was an e, according to Fountas & Pinnell. And they were way different. Like, this book was easy for my kids, and this book always tripped them up. I would level other people's libraries, too. I mean, I was really committed, but unfortunately, I mean, I even put a whole binder together, like, I don't know, four inches thick of. I printed all the pages from their leveling system that I, for them, from this membership, so I could remember what level all the books were, but it didn't mean anything. And also, what has been pointed out so many times, kids can read different levels based on the background knowledge they have a lot of times. So they're not a particular level. They're not tied to a particular level. And moving kids through levels is not a measurement of progress, because the levels don't tell us anything. They don't tell us what skills they have. And that's what I should have been focused on. What skills do they have? What early literacy skills have they made progress on? Which ones are they at? Grade level or above or benchmark? We could say. And are they making at least a year's growth? A year's level of growth? Which, of course, what is that with the levels? Who knows? I mean, it's different for everybody. And now I understand that you measure progress based on assessments, and the universal screeners are really good for that, to see where they lie at different points. Of the year. And if what you're doing is showing progress for all students, appropriate progress, then you're doing something right. And there's different ways that teachers go about that foundational skills teaching. We talked about this. You know, there's the small group foundational skills with differentiation built into that from the beginning. There's the whole group with differentiation after. But I know that people that use both, either approach have found success. And so I don't think that's another one that's a big hot topic. And I think there's definitely room for disagreement there, too. There's no, to my knowledge, no study that's compared the two directly. So. But what we do know is that progress is measured by data. And if our data is positive and we're moving in the right direction and it's working for us, then what we're doing is working. [00:32:05] Kate Winn: No, definitely. I have so many of my pieces of learning parallel what you just talked about. I do want to springboard off that a little bit, you know, talking about the idea of the whole group or the small group for that tier one for the instruction and different guidance out there around that. Right. The most important thing is, is it working? And I know I really respect Dr Stephanie Stollar, and she really advocates for customizing that Tier one instruction right from the beginning with small group. There's some research to support, you know, how that could be really effective. But a lot of cases where that works best is when you're able to get more adults involved, right? So if you are in a situation, you know, like some of our Ontario classrooms, where it is one adult, like, there's no negotiating here, you've got one adult for your literacy block, right? So trying to make your whole group work as best you can. And I know Stephanie Stollar said, I think it was in one of her email newsletters that she sent out, you know, if your whole group, tier one, isn't getting most kids, and I think she said 80% was her number to meet goals, then consider changing it. So to me, that gave me permission, I have way more than 80% of my kids meeting goals. So I think what I'm doing is working. But certainly, you know, if you don't have that many kids, then really it is time to probably start looking at what might work better. But you can always only work with what you've got. I mean, certainly advocate, you know, if there are resources or human resources or anything that you think that might help improve your students achievement. But sometimes as teachers, we're just working with what we've got. Right. So we have to do, do the best we can that way. [00:33:32] Anna Geiger: Yeah. And I think so much of it, too, is about skill. Like, if you choose to do a small group first and then different, and then kids are working at centers or you're working with other teachers, like, there's skill involved in that, planning those lessons, managing the rest of the group. If you're choosing to teach the whole group and then differentiate, there's skill involved in that, keeping everyone engaged, picking out the kids who need extra help. So just knowing that whatever you do, whatever option you choose, requires a level of skill that you're going to keep working at, improving. [00:34:00] Kate Winn: And I think, too, another thing that I've heard people disagree about is should kids have exposure? Should they be exposed to things beyond where they are? And I think it all depends on how you're defining exposure. Right. Like, if we're talking about math and a kid doesn't know numbers, and it's like, you should get exposed to calculus, we're just going to go sit you there. No, but even with UFLI, it's all interleaved. So they don't expect that a child mastered Tuesday's letter and sound before you start Wednesday's lesson because they're going to keep incorporating that one and keep bringing it in. So it's not like you have to have mastered every tiny piece in order to stay with the program. But if you're too far, it's like if the gap is too wide, then is the poor child completely lost? So I try to scaffold as much as I can. You had a guest on your podcast. I think it was your podcast, Virginia Quinn Mooney. Was that yours? [00:34:48] Anna Geiger: I did have her on. [00:34:49] Kate Winn: She said something. You had asked her something about whole group, and you had asked something about, you know, what about the ones that are lower. And I loved her phrase. She said something like, I just pull them up and take them with me. And I feel like if you can scaffold really well, right. And to be able to bring those kids along, then I think that's okay. But if you have a child who's sitting there completely lost because of how far behind they are, that's a different story. Right. So it so many, so many factors at Playdead there. [00:35:15] Anna Geiger: Yeah. It so much depends on what you're seeing in front of you. And also always want to say, too, and I know you understand this, too, but that if someone is struggling, that that's not their only instruction and foundational skills. Right. Like we're. We're following up. Like, if we decide to do a whole group, it's not only whole group, it's still small group, but the order might change. [00:35:33] Kate Winn: Yes, absolutely. Thank you for pointing that out, because certainly I would say that if I have, you know, a couple of kids, my last couple, who I'm kind of scaffolding to keep them along with the whole group, they are getting one on one time with me at another point in the day to help fill. Fill the gap that's there. Okay, I am going to share my last surprise. So we talked a little bit about data and where to get good data. One thing I had no clue about was the importance of rate when reading. It's now. That's such a big part of the data we collect, because we've gone from, like, all those leveled assessments, they did have accuracy, right? Like, we would get an accuracy percentage out of the running records that we did. I never, ever did one that required timing. [00:36:12] Anna Geiger: So I never thought the words correct. [00:36:14] Kate Winn: Per minute piece didn't matter. I know some people would certainly argue, and some will can still argue with me sometimes that, you know, why are we doing this? But then I know when I lead Acadian's training, I've got some slides that I've put in with some data to, you know, kind of show where. Where rate really is important. Because we know that kids have to read at a reasonable rate. I know that Hasbrook and Tyndall, they've got their norms, and so they say between the 25th and 75th percentile for rate. But if you're using a universal screener, you'll have benchmark, you know, built in right there in order to free up cognitive resources to understand what you're reading, because kids can read accurately. But if it's so slow that their resources are all being used up for, you know, getting the words out of their mouths and not understanding, then, you know, then that's not a good thing. So rate really does matter. [00:37:03] Kate Winn: And it even matters. [00:37:04] Kate Winn: Like some of the predictive measures that I do in kindergarten, I don't do orf in kindergarten, but all of the screening measures involve fluency, which means the rate piece does matter. So we've got our first sound fluency, phoneme segmentation fluency, nonsense word fluency. So it's not just how many points can they get, but it's how many in 1 minute, because that piece also matters, right. For that automaticity, I shared with acadian trainees a graph of, I'm sure, you know, the fuchs and colleagues data in terms of the correlations between different kind of comprehension assessments and reading comprehension. And so people are very surprised because yes, retail correlates and yes, closed passages correlate fairly well. Answering question and answer, which we're used to with a lot of the past assessments, there'd be specific questions and answers about that passage definitely correlates well. But the fact that words correct per minute correlates the highest out of all, so interesting things, it blows people's minds. Now, I do always give the caveat that's not going to apply for everyone. So watch our multilingual learners who might become very adept at accuracy and rate of without having the vocabulary to understand. Also watch out for our kids with here in Ontario, they would be identified with language impairment. But TLD I know is, you know, the term that's used in a lot of places. So some of those kids, not all, but some of those kids can hit accuracy and rate benchmarks and still not understand. But you'll see those comprehension issues coming out in other places, too. You're not only going to base everything on one words, crap per minute score, but just the fact that in general it correlates so highly, I think is kind of mind blowing. So really important, I think, to know, because I didn't, I really, really didn't until I got into learning about these more effective assessments that rate matters, how fast a kid can read. [00:38:51] Anna Geiger: Yeah. And just, you talked about the correlation with comprehension. I get a lot of emails from teachers asking for a very good, reliable comprehension assessment, and I'll usually tell them, well, there's no way to do that very quickly. If you want a comprehensive diagnostic, there are different tools. Acadience has one, they take long and they measure many different things. But you should know that the ORF has a very high correlation with comprehension. So if your students are doing well on that with accuracy and rate, chances are they're doing well with comprehension, especially if you do. I like how acadiance has the retell. I learn a lot from that. I get to go to our kids school and help with the acadian assessment and it's amazing how much you can get from watching a kid read for 1 minute and having them answer, talk about it for 1 minute, and then of course you get two more passages. But, but I don't know. I think it's, I think it's amazing. [00:39:36] Kate Winn: Yeah, yeah. Great information from, I mean, the words crack per minute right there, the retail piece. If you're using acadian, not all screeners include that piece, but Acadian does, which is great. And then there's maze as well, another, you know, screening tool that you can use. But you're right, it's, I mean, we know comprehension. I usually say it's a beast. Like it's, it's so huge and so many components that, you know, 60 seconds isn't going to tell you everything you need to know. But, but, yeah, you can certainly get a lot of, a lot of valuable information from that. Anna, we have covered so much here today, and, of course, to delve even deeper into all of these things we've talked about, listeners should check out your brand new book, reach all readers. It truly is worthwhile, and not even just as a library book, it's worth owning because I think it's one of those books that people will pull out, right? Like when there's a certain thing that they're focused on or something that they want to look up or, you know, you switch grades and then all of a sudden, like, oh, I was teaching grade two and I'm in grade five. Like, how is this going to be different? And these kids are older now, and, and they can, can go back and refer to it as a resource. So I definitely do recommend it. Is there anything we've missed in our conversation or anything else you have going on that you'd like to share with listeners? [00:40:45] Anna Geiger: No. I really appreciate the chance to talk about it. I have great respect for your podcast. I'm very humbled to be on it alongside the amazing people that you talk to. So I really appreciate the opportunity. And, and I will be having a course coming out in the fall that will go with the book. So the book will be the textbook, and the course will be walking teachers through it a little more. We'll be going into more detail about in some of the areas because, of course, you always have a word count maximum when you're working with a publisher. And I also have, I don't know how many my editor, one of my team members, was going to count all the videos for me, but there's at least, I think, 40 snapshot videos of me in a classroom. I'm not teaching full time now, but I did visit classrooms and demonstrate a lot of the strategies, so those would be waiting for people if they're interested. It's coming in the fall, but the book is definitely meant to be comprehensive, and so I would encourage people to check it out if they're interested. And thanks so much for giving me the chance to talk about it, of course. [00:41:36] Kate Winn: And people should also check out the Triple R teaching podcast and they could go back in the archives and find when Anna interviewed me. That's right, a while back as well. So it's been so fun to be doing the interviewing this time and to have you here with me. So, Anna Geiger, thank you so much for coming along for the ride this episode of Reading Road Trip. [00:41:55] Anna Geiger: Thanks so much, Kate. [00:41:59] Kate Winn: 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 season three, episode two with Anna Geiger. And now it's time for 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 podcast and your review might even make it onto an episode. Of course we welcome any social media. [00:42:29] Kate Winn: Love you feel inspired to spread as well. [00:42:31] Kate Winn: Feel free to tag IDA Ontario and me. My handle is thismomloves on Twitter and Facebook and Kate thismomloves on Instagram. [00:42:40] Kate Winn: Make sure you're following the Reading Road Trip podcast in your app and watch for new episodes continuing every Monday throughout the summer. We couldn't bring reading road trip to you without behind the scenes support from Katelyn Hanna, Brittany Haynes, and Melinda Jones at IDA Ontario, I'm Kate Winn and along with my co producer, Doctor 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 when we bring another fabulous guest along for the ride on Reading Road Trip.

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