The writer who couldn't read

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AngusM
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The writer who couldn't read

Post by AngusM » Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:28 am

I just heard a nice little piece on Morning Edition here (by a friend of mine) about brain plasticity and reading. Oliver Sacks and Stanislas Dehaene are featured. It is worth a listen - just as Dehaene's book "Reading in the Brain' is worth a read.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... =127745750

JAC
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Re: The writer who couldn't read

Post by JAC » Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:49 am

I'm struggling through 'Reading in the Brain' - a bit too technical for me, but there is a website summarising the chapters, and with coloured pictures of the brain, which makes it a bit easier!
http://www.readinginthebrain.com/

Elizabeth
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Re: The writer who couldn't read

Post by Elizabeth » Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:56 am

I enjoyed 'The Brain that Changes Itself' by Norman Doidge and found it easy to read. I don't know what other scientists think of it. In connection with the teaching of reading, it clarified my understanding:

I know, without doubt, from my experience with the children I teach, that for some unknown reason some children find it much more difficult to learn to read than others, even with synthetic phonics. After reading that book, I interpret that as meaning: When we learn to read we change our brains. However, some people's brains are set up in such a way that they find it much more difficult to learn to read than others and it takes more effort for them to 'change' their brains, but with good teaching they can do it and their brains change and they can read. :grin:
Elizabeth

AngusM
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Re: The writer who couldn't read

Post by AngusM » Tue Jun 22, 2010 6:43 pm

I read Norman Doidge's book too. Certainly scientists like Ramachandran (who gave the Reith Lecture several years ago) is very highly regarded. His Reith Lecture was published as "A Brief Tour of Consciousness".

g.carter
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Re: The writer who couldn't read

Post by g.carter » Mon Jun 28, 2010 8:51 am

This is fascinating and well worth reading.
Briefly put, Engel discovered that if he traced the printed gibberish on a page with his hand, if he simulated the movements that a writer makes as he writes, he could gradually get back the meaning of the words.

Try writing "cat" 20 times, and then on the 21st try, write "cat" in the air with your finger. You know as you write in the air that the motions you make equal "cat." This is called "motor memory." This specific set of strokes triggers the idea of "cat" in your brain.
Since the decline of handwriting there has been a dramatic drop in children who are able to read. In a largely phonics-free era it appears that 'old-fashioned' schools where writing, story writing and composition played a pivotal role, and especially where there was music provision for all, and a second language for older primary children, illiteracy did not present as a massive problem. A phonics' grounding is the most logical way of teaching children to read but it was the removal of writing practice, language teaching and music that hastened the decline. Now phonics is essential as teachers have such mixed messages and lack of awareness about how our alphabetic code works.

Since suffering a fate similar - but less dramatic - than Engels I've found that I reach for meaning rather than decoding accurately - the results can be hilarious but at least I can self-correct! Perhaps a course of Reading Recovery would allow me to hone my new-found skills....

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: The writer who couldn't read

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:32 am

I think learning to handwrite is hugely important.

Jim Rose, in his Rose Report, describes "high quality phonic work" as:

• grapheme/phoneme (letter/sound) correspondences (the alphabetic principle) in a clearly defined, incremental sequence
• to apply the highly important skill of blending (synthesising) phonemes in order, all through a word to read it
• to apply the skills of segmenting words into their constituent phonemes to spell
• that blending and segmenting are reversible processes.

((Rose, 2006, par 51)

I, however, include the teaching of handwriting described as a third core skill and ensure the constant interweaving of letter formation and handwriting with the phonics activities such as learning the letter/s-sound correspondences (finger trace or air-write the grapheme whilst saying the sound) and the spelling routines. During these activities, the letters are rooted in the sounds they represent, not their names. Letter names are learned discretely through singing the alphabet and learning about the alphabet - and adopted as learners are mature at a point when handwriting and sounds are embedded.

As a long-in-the-tooth primary teacher, I have observed that handwriting is an arguably weakly taught area and there is always a lot of interest in handwriting from teachers who pick up the pieces of poor writers in later years.

Now that we have a huge endorsement of synthetic phonics teaching, the time is perfect to push on handwriting skills with this type of teaching and it is such a shame that Rose did not make this part of his description of 'high quality phonic work'.

g.carter
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Re: The writer who couldn't read

Post by g.carter » Tue Jun 29, 2010 8:26 am

It was Debbie's article on cursive handwriting in her first RRF newsletter that helped enormously when I was trying to sort out the (non) reading and all-over-the-place writing of some 6 and 7 year olds who had, not surprisingly, fallen through the net.

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