This website was created for administrators, preservice teachers, general classroom/special education teachers, families, and students who want to know if there is more we can do to help all young children gain access to the printed word.
As a brand new teacher almost three decades ago, I was curious about the lack of sound-letter knowledge of 5 out of 20 of my grade two students. It appeared to me that the methods I was taught in teacher's college were not working for this group of children. And they did not seem to be very efficient for the rest.
However, reading a lot of good quality literature and offering meaningful reading and writing experiences seemed not only reasonable, but also critical, and this was what I was taught in teacher's college. So I was confused.
When I asked about the lack of skills that these children had at the beginning of grade two (and continue to ask), here are the typical reasons given for their lack of progress:
They just haven't caught on yet - but they will.
Their parents do not read aloud to them at home.
They are stubborn and/or just not interested.
Their parents do not spend time with them.
Their parents do not speak English.
They have ADHD.
They have poor visual memories.
They would just rather play.
They aren't developmentally ready.
They have poor visual tracking - words jump around on the page for them.
They have a troublesome home life.
They are just weak readers.
They need special education because of all of these reasons.
So, while some of these things seemed to make sense, many did not, and I spent the rest of my career trying to find answers that would alleviate the inequity and the suffering for those children for whom reading did not come easily.
Within a few years, I learned that research actually had a lot of the answers, but (back in the 90s) I had to drive to the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto to find this research myself. For thirty years, this research has tried to make its way into the practices of caring and dedicated teachers, but to no avail. It is only recently that we seem to have hit a critical mass of educators who are asking how we can do better. Teachers want to know how to teach reading more effectively for their whole class, not just those who struggle. And they are frustrated that they do not know what to do.
This website is intended to be a living breathing website for teachers, administrators, families, and students to guide them on their journey to "know better", so they can "do better". I update the website regularly, adding/changing/deleting my favourite resources as I learn more.
Let's get reading right!
Martha Kovack, MEd, OCT
Founder, Creator, and Owner of Sound Readers
Practical Linguistics Certified Teacher: Orton-Gillingham/Structured Language & Literacy Specialty
Canadian Dyslexia Society
Instructor of English Language Arts for Preservice Teachers and Early Childhood Educators