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Coming Soon: Sold a Story
Sold a Story is a six-part series beginning with two episodes on October 20. More: soldastory.org
1: The Problem
Corinne Adams watches her son's lessons during Zoom school and discovers a dismaying truth: He can't read. Little Charlie isn't the only one. Sixty-five percent of fourth graders in the United States are not proficient readers. Kids need to learn specific skills to become good readers, and in many schools, those skills are not being taught. Read: Emily Hanford’s reading listRead: Transcript of this episodeSupport: Donate to APMMore: soldastory.org
2: The Idea
Sixty years ago, Marie Clay developed a way to teach reading she said would help kids who were falling behind. They’d catch up and never need help again. Today, her program remains popular and her theory about how people read is at the root of a lot of reading instruction in schools. But Marie Clay was wrong. Read: Emily Hanford’s reading listRead: Transcript of this episodeSupport: Donate to APMMore: soldastory.org
3: The Battle
President George W. Bush made improving reading instruction a priority. He got Congress to provide money to schools that used reading programs supported by scientific research. But backers of Marie Clay’s cueing idea saw Bush’s Reading First initiative as a threat. Read: Transcript of this episodeSupport: Donate to APMMore: soldastory.org
4: The Superstar
Teachers sing songs about Teachers College Columbia professor Lucy Calkins. She’s one of the most influential people in American elementary education today. Her admirers call her books bibles. Why didn't she know that scientific research contradicted reading strategies she promoted? Read: Transcript of this episodeSupport: Donate to APMMore: soldastory.org
5: The Company
Teachers call books published by Heinemann their "bibles." The company's products are in schools all over the country. Some of the products used to teach reading are rooted in a debunked idea about how children learn to read. But they've made the company and some of its authors millions. Map: Heinemann’s national reachRead: Transcript of this episodeSupport: Donate to APMMore: soldastory.org
6: The Reckoning
Lucy Calkins says she has learned from the science of reading. She's revised her materials. Fountas and Pinnell have not revised theirs. Their publisher, Heinemann, is still selling some products to teach reading that contain debunked practices. Parents, teachers and lawmakers want answers. In our final episode, we try to get some answers. Map: How states approach reading instructionOrganize: Sold a Story discussion guide Read: Transcript of this episodeSupport: Donate to APMMore: soldastory.org
The parents knew something wasn’t right. The school said everything would be fine. But their kids weren’t learning how to read. In this documentary, originally published in September 2017, we look at why kids with dyslexia have a hard time getting the help they need in school. Read more: How American schools fail kids with dyslexiaQ&A: What is dyslexia, with neuroscientist Guinevere Eden Support this show: Donate to APM Reports
Jack Silva had a problem. He was the chief academic officer of a school district in Pennsylvania, and more than 40% of the kids in his district were not proficient readers. He didn't know much about how kids learn to read, but he knew he had to figure it out. Originally published in September 2018, this documentary helped ignite a national conversation about the science of reading. Winner of an EWA Public Service Award. Read more: Why aren't kids being taught to read?Read in Spanish: Translation by Aptus Support this show: Donate to APM Reports
Molly Woodworth had a secret: She couldn’t read very well. She fought her way through text by looking at the first letter of a word and thinking of something that made sense. Reading was slow and laborious. Then she learned that her daughter's school was actually teaching kids to read that way. In this documentary, originally published in August 2019, host Emily Hanford reveals that many kids are being taught the habits of struggling readers. Winner of a Gracie Award and finalist for an EWA Public Service Award. Read more: How a flawed idea is teaching millions of kids to be poor readers Support this show: Donate to APM Reports
[RERELEASE] What the Words Say
There are kids like C.J. all over the country. Schools tell their parents they are reading at grade level, but the kids are not. And whether they ever get the help they need can depend a lot on their family income and their race. In this documentary, originally published in August 2020, host Emily Hanford shows that America’s approach to reading instruction is having an especially devastating impact on children of color. Read more: Children of color are far less likely to get the help they need Support this show: Donate to APM Reports
This week we have an episode of a show called Brains On. It’s a science podcast for kids from our colleagues at APM. In this episode, Emily joins the Brains On hosts to talk about how people learn to read. Grab the kids in your life and listen to this special episode made for kids and curious adults. More: brainson.org Support our show: Donate to APM Reports
[BONUS 1] Your Words
Messages poured in: voicemails, emails, tweets. We got a lot of messages from people after they heard Sold a Story. In this bonus episode, we bring you some of their voices. A 10-year-old figures out why he has struggled to read. A mom stays up late to binge the podcast. A teacher confirms what he's suspected for years — he's not really teaching kids how to read. Read: Messages from our listenersMore: soldastory.org Donate to support Sold a Story and other reporting from APM.
[BONUS 2] The Impact
Across the country, school districts are dropping textbooks, state legislatures are going so far as to ban teaching methods, and everyone, it seems, is talking about "the science of reading." Things have been changing since Sold a Story was released. In this bonus episode, we tell you about some of the changes and what we think about them. Read: Legislators look to change reading instructionMore: soldastory.org Donate to support Sold a Story and other reporting from APM. EXTENDED READING Blog: Seidenberg on translating research into practiceArticle: Goldenberg, Goldberg on premortem (paywall) | Excerpt
Have you heard of vision therapy? I am a teacher. I have a daughter who followed the path that is described in your podcast. she went through reading recovery, but she still couldn't read. I ended up pulling her from school and homeschooling. I thought I would help her. We made some progress at home, but we still struggled. I started doubting my own abilities. After talking with friends and pediatricians, I was told about vision therapy. After testing, I learned that my daughter had several vision problems. She had 20/20 vision, but there is more to vision when it comes to reading. The doctor described it to my daughter this way, he said, "Ellie, you have a 3rd grade brain, but your eyes are stuck at 1st grade." After going through the program, we started seeing so much growth. We still had a lot of ground to cover and holes to fill. My daughter went back to school and, over time, was able to read on grade level. We are still breaking bad habits she learned from her early reading instruction. We have put my second child through this program as well. Now I tell everyone I can about this service.
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Marie Clay sounds like a cult leader. My son was in reading recovery last year and it didn’t really help, and now I’m second grade he’s still behind in reading... but now he’s in a science based tutoring program and it’s helping a lot.
Thank you for shedding light on this incredibly important topic! Your research and delivery is spot on. Hopefully this podcast stretches far and wide!
A story about uneducated people believing other uneducated people. Just because someone uses big words/terminology, they must know what they’re talking about, right ? WRONG. Gullible. They really should’ve asked these women how THEY learned to read. It obviously wasn’t the way that they were pushing. They talked that talk but didn’t walk it and that should’ve been a major red flag 🚩 As someone who’s always been a “good reader” I can honestly say that common sense truly isn’t common enough. What does a picture have to do with reading? Absolutely nothing. This all sounds like grooming and manipulation because these teachers are talking more about retreats and acting like the experience was about them having fun and being a part of something. A cult *cough*.
This was my son! We homeschool now are he is reading better now than he was when he was getting special tutoring at school. He's only 8 and loves to read but has struggled ever since kindergarten. This series has opened my eyes!
I am one of the kids/generation you talk about un this series. God bless my mother who "meda me" sit with her ever afternoon, on that awful avocado green bed spread and "read" to her until I finally "got it". I can still remember the day I realized that the words on the page, told the story of the pictures! They were connected. I am forever grateful to her... and to you for doing such a wondeful presentation of these events. My question is "as opposed to what?" I would like to hear a 7th episode, investigating the alternatives districts had to choose from during the period un question, as far as curriculum goes. It is difficult to produce good curriculum at scale, and still make it profitable. Do we know what materials districts should have been choosing and why they did not? Just courious
Is there a podcast like this helpful reporting that covers mistakes in our math education approach?
fabulous! I was Gonzaga-trained by Project FollowThrough zealots...early reading science experts. After almost 30 yrs of teaching I finally had a principal ask me how to improve what we were doing as a sped team. She's now listening to this podcast!
thank you so much for this. I couldn't read until the third grade. my mom got me glasses and enrolled me in an after school phonics program. I went from barely literate to reading the lion the witch and the wardrobe by myself in a year. I taught both my children to read with Bob's books bc I didn't trust the school. they both were solid readers by kindergarten.
you wouldn't look at science because it came from a republican side? I'm so tired of the politics game.
of course we can only find that children are not being taught to read when rich kids can't read, of course poor parents are just uneducated swine that wouldn't know anyway 🙄
Can I go back to the stuffed shirts and SHOW them their cock sure address to the PARENTS of those children that their way was WRONG? AND..what about those children who grew up and the backlash of "just can't get it" how hard was it for them to hide this, feeling they failed somehow. AND, WHY does every darn thing have to be changed because it's a new year or a community somewhere else across four other states claim the new way is better. I'll tell you what is better...BACK OFF THESE KID'S. Leave what has worked, alone and guess what? If you're a true teacher, if there is an issue with a child, meet it head on with an attitude of assurance to that child, everything will be alright. It's so much more than a job, and it should be felt that way by all teachers, AND I WILL stand by this, parents, you teach your child to respect their teachers, to go to them for help. Then once in a while, for no reason at all, walk in that classroom and tell that person how grateful you are that they chose to do the job they do because most teachers DO care. Leave them to do what they will do and pray that teaching children backs up to feeling again, that they know what they are doing.
I'm hearing about cops and tazers. can anyone correct this podcast?
Based on the comments, it looks like this was at one point the correct episode, but at the moment, it's the first episode of a different podcast.
As a parent of two dyslexic children, whose concerns were diminished and dismissed, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of Hanford’s work. The privatization of diagnosis and intervention for children experiencing reading failure all but guarantees few will have access. #untileverychildcanread
I was taught Whole Word. My mom intervened. She got me in a phonics program outside school and now I love reading. I taught my kids with BOBs books. They were both reading by four.