Thursday, 15 December 2011

functional MRI and reading

At last, a concise article that uses fMRI research and clear explanations to demonstrate that phonological awareness, sounding out words, and repetition are necessary to help children acquire reading (and presumably spelling) skills.

It all makes good developmental and neuropsychological sense. Whole word recognition can't activate strong neural pathways unless the pathways have already been developed. This article argues that trying to teach through word recognition stops development of good multimodal phoneme and word recognition skills

I'm looking forward to sharing this with my children's school. I hope I'll find some other evidence to show that learning multiplication tables by absorption is not an effective route either.

I understand that teaching things over and over again can be boring for teachers, and for students as well, but repetition is a good way of consolidating learning in many modalities. And it can be fun if combined with music and raps. My eldest son's first school used the THRASS (teaching handwriting, reading and spelling skills) program that was developed by a speech pathologist in Western Australia. We're going to start playing the THRASS board game again in the summer holidays. THRASS breaks down English into 40+ vowel and consonant sounds, provides a child-friendly chart that shows the spelling choices for the various sounds, and helps spellers to learn the different sounds produced by varying graph, di-graph, trigraph, and split di-graph combinations. Parents of struggling readers in older grades said the system finally helped their kids to know how to spell. I'm hoping it will help consolidate my 9-year-old's spelling, and get my 7yo on a more solid footing for grade 1 next year.

Thanks to Darren Stops for sharing this link, and for inspiring me to get THRASSing with my boys over the summer break.

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