Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Triathalons and reading

Suppose you trained for a triathalon by running on a treadmill. You'd become a sturdy runner with good aerobic conditioning and endurance, and you might do well in the foot race. You wouldn't, though, be a skilled enough biker or a strong enough swimmer to win the complete event.

In reading, skilled decoding matters, but it's not enough. For upper elementary reading assignments, students need decoding skills and rich vocabulary and content knowledge of science and social studies and literature and art. If primary classrooms teach only decoding, kids will score well as long as they're only tested on decoding. They 'll lose ground on later reading tests that check for comprehension, and they'll struggle with the textbooks and other materials assigned to them in class.

Decoding alone won't equip students to go the distance.

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