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Jen Serravallo on New Strategies for Reading with Accuracy

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Jennifer Serravallo has overhauled Chapter 3 in her beloved Reading Strategies Book and is making the resulting 30 strategies available at no charge to educators who have the book. In the letter below she tells you all about it.

To access these new strategies, you will need an account on Heinemann.com. Either log into your Heinemann.com account or create an account. Once you log into Heinemann.com, click the link that says, “Register an Online Resource, Video, or eBook.” Then enter this code:

RDSTRATBK

You’ll be asked to authenticate your registration, so keep a copy of The Reading Strategies Book at hand. “Reading with Accuracy” will remain available online only at this time.

Jennifer Serravallo Head Shot 400 Square ds jam (1)Dear Colleague,

I approach everything I do as an educator with responsiveness: to student and teacher needs, and to research. I read articles and attend conferences constantly to stay up-to-date, I try what I learn from my studies with students in real classrooms, and I offer recommendations to teachers that make applying this research doable--even in classrooms with large class sizes and an enormous range of learners, like those in which I taught and continue to work in each year. I trust teachers to be decision-makers and I hope my resources equip you with options you need to meet the varying needs in your classroom. 

With more than one thousand peer-reviewed articles published each year in education and related fields, findings are constantly evolving. In our enduring quest to make learning meaningful, relevant, responsive, and powerful to the children in our charge, we have the opportunity--and responsibility--to continue learning and growing, too. This reality means that as an author, with words printed permanently on pages, I sometimes find myself reading some new research, having an aha moment in a classroom with a student, or answering a wise question from a teacher and thinking: I wish I could have written then what I know now. Sometimes the research-based and student-tested updates I want to make can wait until my next publication, blog post, or workshop presentation. But this time, I wanted to give you my latest ideas, right away.

The chapter that follows this note is an update of Chapter 3 from The Reading Strategies Book, published in 2015. Since writing it back in 2014, I’ve worked with some children that needed strategies beyond what that chapter offered. These children inspired me to engage in a deep study of what neuroscientists, psychologists, speech and language pathologists, and linguists theorize and have been able to prove about the reading brain. Specifically, I’ve read countless articles (those most helpful to me have been by Nell Duke and Linnea Ehri), listened to many podcasts, attended various workshops and webinars (by Nell Duke, Carol Tomlin, Mark Seidenberg, and David Kilpatrick), and have studied (read, underlined, sticky-noted) a stack of books, most of which were published after Reading Strategies was released:

  • Mark Seidenberg’s Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, And What Can Be Done About It (2017)

  • Louisa Moats’ Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers, 3rd ed. (2020)

  • David Kilpatrick’s Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Disabilities (2015)

  • Maryanne Wolf’s Reader Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World (2018)

  • Daniel T. Willingham’s The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads (2017)

  • Heidi Mesmer’s Letter Lessons and First Words: Phonics Foundations That Work (2019)

  • Isabel and Mark Beck’s Making Sense of Phonics: The Hows and Whys (2013)

  • Wiley Blevins’ A Fresh Look at Phonics: Common Causes of Failure and 7 Ingredients for Success (2016)

From this reading, I now more deeply understand the importance of offering students working on word-level reading skills the strategies that will aid them in applying their knowledge of the alphabetic principle and what they’ve learned from phonological awareness, phonics, and spelling lessons to their reading of connected text. I understand how crucial it is that we support orthographic mapping (when readers make letter-sound—grapheme-phoneme—connections to bond the spelling, pronunciation, and meaning of words in memory) so that decoded words become sight words, allowing for automatic and fluent reading.  

And so, of the twenty-three strategies from the original version of this chapter, I’ve heavily revised about ten, and added twenty new ones to offer you thirty research-based options to choose from as you support your students, including those for whom learning to read is especially challenging. As with other strategies I’ve shared, these new strategies are not intended to be a phonics curriculum, and they and could never be a replacement for one. Instead, they are meant to help children apply and transfer what they learn from your systematic, explicit phonics and phonological awareness instruction to connected text reading. Along with the new and revised strategies, I have completely rewritten the introduction to the chapter to set an important research and theoretical context for those who may be unfamiliar with the scholars whose work I’ve studied. In addition, you’ll read in the introduction my updated advice about which assessments I now recommend to determine if this goal is right for your reader, and about how to select from the strategies within the chapter to match what students need.

To place these new strategies in the larger context of the book, we know from Scarborough’s Reading Rope framework (Scarborough 2001), the Simple View of Reading theory (Gough and Tunmer 1986), The Active View of Reading (Duke and Cartwright 2021), and countless researchers’ findings that teaching word-level strategies alone are not enough (Castles, Rastle, and Nation 2018; Wolf 2007). It remains crucial that word-level strategies like those in this chapter that focus on skills such as decoding, segmenting, and blending are taught alongside strategies for other areas of the Reading Rope: deepening comprehension, understanding the meaning of words and phrases and “language of books” (Wolf 2007), and developing fluency (Rasinski and Smith 2018). Also, we must support students in other crucial areas of reading such as active self-regulation, including motivation and engagement (Duke and Cartwright 2021). Strategies aligned to these other goals make up the remaining 277 strategies in The Reading Strategies Book and are as important now as ever

I’m incredibly grateful to be in a field where researchers and practitioners are constantly studying and working to outgrow our best thinking and new learning, and who share and collaborate. As your colleague, I feel a responsibility to share my learning with you and make my updated thinking easily available, and I invite you to join me in this important study. Above all, I hope this collection of strategies, along with those from the other chapters in The Reading Strategies Book, supports you as you provide instruction that helps your students to be capable, confident, and skilled readers who also love to read and choose to do so.

Yours in teaching and learning, 
- Jen

 

To access these new strategies, you will need an account on Heinemann.com. Either log into your Heinemann.com account or create an account. Once you log into Heinemann.com, click the link that says, “Register an Online Resource, Video, or eBook.” Then enter this code:

RDSTRATBK

You’ll be asked to authenticate your registration, so keep a copy of The Reading Strategies Book at hand. “Reading with Accuracy” will remain available online only at this time.

 

**A special thank you to researchers Dr. Linnea Ehri and Dr. Maryanne Wolf, Speech and Language Pathologist Angie Neal and Sandra Maddox, literacy specialist and member of the South Carolina Learning Disabilities Task Force, who read my many drafts, fed me a steady supply of research, and gave critical feedback throughout the project.

Jen S 400 Square
Jennifer Serravallo is the author of New York Times’ bestseller The Reading Strategies Book as well as other popular Heinemann professional books, The Writing Strategies Book; Teaching Reading in Small Groups; and The Literacy Teacher's Playbook, Grades K–2 and Grades 3–6. Her newest titles are Teaching Writing in Small Groups (publishing March of 2021) and Connecting with Students Online, from which she will donate a portion of the proceeds to organizations serving children directly impacted by COVID-19. Her other recent books include Understanding Texts & Readers and A Teacher's Guide to Reading Conferences as well as the Spanish-language counterparts to her strategies books, El libro de estrategias de lectura and El libro de estrategias de escritura.

Jen’s Complete Comprehension: Fiction and Complete Comprehension: Nonfiction are assessment and teaching resources that expand upon the comprehension skill progressions from Understanding Texts & Readers and offer hundreds more strategies like those in The Reading Strategies Book.

Additionally, Jen is the author of the On-Demand Courses Strategies in Action: Reading and Writing Methods and Content and Teaching Reading in Small Groups: Matching Methods to Purposes, where you can watch dozens of videos of Jen teaching in real classrooms and engage with other educators in a self-guided course.

Jen is a member of Parents Magazine Board of Advisors for education and literacy. She began her career in education as a NYC public school teacher and later joined the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. Through TCRWP, and now as an independent consultant, she has spent over a decade helping teachers across the country to create literacy classrooms where students are joyfully engaged and the instruction is meaningfully individualized to students' goals.

Jen holds a BA from Vassar College and an MA from Teachers College, where she has also taught graduate and undergraduate classes.

Learn more about Jen and her work at https://www.heinemann.com/jenniferserravallo/, on Twitter @jserravallo, on Instagram @jenniferserravallo, or by joining The Reading and Writing Strategies Facebook Community.

Topics: The Reading Strategies Book, Jennifer Serravallo, Reading Strategies

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