Decodable Texts are a Powerful Tool
What’s the big deal about decodable texts?
Approximately 20% of the population is prone to a language based learning disability. For these learners, reading does not come ‘naturally’. To meet with reading success, repeated opportunities to practice code are non-negotiable. Systematic, sequential, and cumulative practice with the alphabetic system helps create the neural pathways in the brain necessary for reading. Decodable texts provide this practice and help reinforce the understanding that code is not random.
Supporting systematic phonics instruction with decodable texts provides the opportunity for children to truly read with independence.
Well, what about the rest of the class? Won’t they be bored with phonics instruction?
Systematic, explicit, and cumulative phonics instruction is crucial for beginning readers. By beginning readers, we are referring to students in grades K-3. Familiarizing students with the six basic syllable types of the English language and providing multiple opportunities to recognize and apply these syllable types to their reading, leads to reading proficiency.
The statistics are grim for those students who are not skilled readers by the end of 3rd grade. Studies have shown that these students are four times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers who are proficient readers. The statistics get worse when poverty and ethnicity are considered.
Reading is more than just sounding out words. What about comprehension?
Of course it is necessary to teach comprehension skills! We cannot stress this enough, so we’re going to repeat that. Of course it is necessary to teach comprehension skills! The idea that the use of decodable texts and/or the teaching of phonics precludes comprehension is a false dichotomy and is the crux of the ‘reading wars’.
Systematic phonics instruction and decodable texts are tools to help readers access print independently. Providing students with decodable texts to practice their independent reading doesn’t (and shouldn’t) mean they will not also be exposed to rich, authentic texts.
Reading aloud and discussing books with children are powerful ways to support reading comprehension. In addition, reading aloud provides exposure to vocabulary and book language (sentence structures) that they may be unable to currently access.
Implementing the use of audio books allows students of varying reading abilities to enjoy the same text while building crucial comprehension skills.
What is so magical about decodable texts?
The magic happens when children actually learn to break the code. It happens when the light bulb clicks on and the reader learns that /b/…/u/…/g/ says bug. The connection from individual letter sounds to actual words makes her eyes light up and causes a grin to spread across her face. The magic happens when, with an exclamation of delight, the readers says, “This is sooooo easy,” and he requests to read the book again and again.
Magic happens when the enchanting world of reading is made accessible through decodable text and children are able to read independently.
We could all use a little magic in our lives. Click here if you’d like a little magic in your life!