The Brain Learns to
Read
October 27, 2011
Sue Pearson, Co-Director
The Center for Effective Learning
Webinar Series
WEBINAR GOALS
TO:
• Promote deeper
understanding of reading
process
• Provide strategies to use
with both “traditional”
students and ELL students
BASIC BRAIN
INFORMATION
The “Bad” News
• No one method or
program has triumphed!
• Nearly two-thirds of lowincome 4th graders cannot
read at the proficient level
• Grade 8 no gains in the
past decade
• Grade 12 scores have
declined (NAEP, 2003)
The “Good” News
New Technologies:
• Brain’s internal
structure
-CAT Scan, MRI
• How brain works
(EEG, MEG, PET, fMRI,
FMRS)
The “Good” News
• EEG, MEG-How quickly
something occurs in the
brain
• PET-Observes brain functions
• fMRI-pinpoints brain areas of
greater and lesser activity
• fMRS-records levels of
chemicals in brain while
subject is thinking
STUDIES SHOW:
• Novice readers use different cerebral
pathways than proficient readers
• People with reading difficulties use
different brain regions to decode
written text than do typical readers
• The brains of people with reading
problems work harder than those of
skilled readers
• Even though dyslexia is a brain
disorder, it is treatable.
• Brains of young struggling and dyslexic
readers can be rewired to more
closely resemble those used by typical
readers
How the Brain Learns to Read, David Sousa, p. 4-5
AS A RESULT. . .
It is now possible to:
• identify with a high degree
of accuracy those children
who are at greatest risk of
reading problems
• diagnose the problems
accurately
• manage the problems with
effective and proven
treatment programs.
Shaywitz, S. E. Overcoming Dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading
problems at any level. New York: Knopf, 2003
SPOKEN LANGUAGE
SPOKEN LANGUAGE
• A single human voice can
pronounce all the
hundreds of vowel and
consonant sounds that
allow it to speak any of the
estimated 6,500 languages
that exist today.
PROCESSING SPOKEN LANGUAGE
• Brain uses Broca’s and
Wernicke’s areas
• Also uses other neural
networks in the left
hemisphere
• Ability to acquire
spoken language is
encoded in our genes
• Diminishes around
10-12 years of age
GENDER DIFFERENCES
• Males-left hemisphere
• Females-BOTH hemispheres
• Corpus callosum allows
communication between
hemispheres
• Larger and thicker in females
than in males
• Function follows forminformation traveling between
the two hemispheres is more
efficient in females than in
males
LEARNING PHONEMES
• Units of sounds
• Combine to form syllables
• Infant’s brain can respond
to all
• Only those that are
repeated get attention
• By age one, neural
networks focus on sounds
in the infant’s environment
VOCABULARY w/Toddlers
• Vocabulary from
parents/caregivers
• Frequent adult-to-toddler
conversations lead to
greater vocabulary
development
• Incremental effect grows
exponentially and can
lead to huge word gaps in
early years
Study Results (Hart & Risley, 2003)
Two-Part Longitudinal Study
PART ONE
• 42 toddlers
• Based on family occupation
• Welfare child (525)
• Middle/low SES (749 words
• Upper SES (1,116 words)
PART TWO
• Six years later
• Early scores strong predictor of
scores at age 9-10 in vocabulary,
listening, speaking, syntax, and
semantics
*SES: Socio-economic status
SYNTAX AND SEMANTICS
• Recognize hierarchy of
language-nouns, verbs
rules of grammar
• Phonemes-sounds
• Morphemes-word parts
• Vocabulary-level
• Sentence-level (grammar)
• Speaking/Understanding
(explicit/inferred
THE READING
PROCESS
“Why is it that the
hardest thing
children are ever
asked to do is the
first thing they’re
asked to do!?”
Merryl Pischa, Reading
Specialist
LEARNING TO READ
• Relatively NEW phenomena
• Genes have not
incorporated reading into
their coded structure
• If reading were a natural
ability, everyone would be
doing it
• BUT nearly 40 million adults
(in US) are functionally
illiterate.
LEARNING TO READ
• Right now, your mind is
performing an astonishing
feat. Photons are bouncing
off these black squiggles
and lines -- the letters in this
sentence -- and colliding
with a thin wall of flesh at
the back of your eyeball..
LEARNING TO READ
• The photons contain just
enough energy to activate
sensory neurons, each of
which is responsible for a
particular plot of visual
space on the page. The
end result is that, as you
stare at the letters, they
become more than mere
marks on a page. You've
begun to read.
LEARNING TO READ
• Seeing the letters, of
course, is just the start of
the reading process
• Although our eyes are
focused on the letters, we
quickly learn to ignore
them. Instead, we
perceive whole words,
chunks of meaning.
ghoti
LEARNING TO READ
• (The irregularities of English
require such flexibility. As
George Bernard Shaw
once pointed out, the
word "fish" could also be
spelled ghoti, assuming
that we used the gh from
"enough," the o from
"women," and the ti from
"lotion.")
LEARNING TO READ
• In fact, once we become
proficient at reading, the
precise shape of the letters
-- not to mention the
arbitrariness of the spelling
-- doesn't even matter,
which is why we read
word, WORD, and WoRd
the same way.
EARLY STAGES OF READING
• Awareness that speech is
composed of sounds
(phonemes)
• Recognition that written
spellings represent sounds
(alphabetic principle)
• Understanding that phonemes
can be manipulated
• Phonemic awareness strong
predictor of reading success in
later grades
TERMS
• Phonemes-distinct unit of
sounds
• Phonological Awarenessoral language can be
divided into smaller
components-eg.
sentences-words-syllablesphonemes
TERMS
• Phonemic Awarenessunderstanding that words
are made up of individual
sounds and can be
manipulated to create
new words
• Graphemes-symbols that
correspond to sounds
Strategies
• “Same or different” gamegenerating pairs of words
that are identical or differ
in some subtle way (e.g.
glow-grow)
• Provide sentences with key
word missing-child supplies
words; link sentences
together
Sounds to Letters
• Brain must memorize a set of
Guess which orthography
squiggles
category (alphabet)
English falls into?
• Rules of spelling called
orthography
You’re right! Deep
• Shallow
orthography-close
orthography-our
alphabet
correspondence between
does NOT have an ideal
letters and sounds
one-to-one
• Deep orthography-poor
correspondence
between
correspondence between how
itsword
phonemes
and and
a
is pronounced
graphemes!
spelled
Alphabetic Principle
Learning the alphabetic principle
is NOT easy!
1. The letters are abstract and
unfamiliar to the new reader
2. There are about 44 English
phonemes but only 26 letterseach phoneme is not coded
with a unique letter.
3. There are over a dozen vowel
sounds but only five lettersa,e,i,o,u- to represent them
Alphabetic Principle
3. The reader needs to recognize
that how a letter is
pronounced depends on the
letters that surround it-e.g.-the
letter “e” in dead, deed, dike
4. Then there are consonant
digraphs-combinations of two
consonants (ch, sh, ph)
5. Also trigraphs-tch, thr
Poem by Anonymous
I take it you already know
Of touch and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough, and through?
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dread; it’s said like bed, not bead;
Watch out for meat and great and threat.
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother.
Proust and the Squid, Maryanne Wolf, p. 121-122
Poem by Anonymous
And here is not a match for there,
And dear and fear and bear and pear,
And then there’s dose and rose and lose—
Just look them up --- and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward, and
font and front and word and sword,
And do and go, then thwart and cart.
Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start.
A dreadful language? Why, man alive,
I’d learned to talk it when I was five
And yet to read it, the more it tried,
I hadn’t learned it at fifty-five!
Proust and the Squid, Maryanne Wolf, p. 121-122
A Common Mantra
• In the first three grades, a
child learns to read while in
the next grades a child
reads to learn
• Unfortunately most 4th
grade teachers do not
take a course in teaching
reading to children who
have not acquired
fluency*
*Recommendation-grade 4 and above teachers take fluency course
LETTERS TO WORDS-DECODING
• Research* indicates that a
child must be able to
decode with accuracy
and fluency in order to
read proficiently.
• Learn letter names vs.
sounds; research is mixed
*Moats, Furry, and Brownell, 1998
Vocabulary Growth
(Mental Lexicon)
Consolidated Alphabetic Phase
Full Alphabetic Phase
Partial-Alphabetic Phase
Pre-Alphabetic Phase
MORPHEMES
• Smallest word elements that
can change a word’s
meaning dog=1,dog+s=2,
doggedly=? dog+ed+ly=3
• Break words apart; hate-ful
• Begins to surpass phonemic
awareness by grade 3 in
developing decoding skills
• Helpful in
decoding/meaning/
grammar
READING COMPREHENSION:
WORDS TO SENTENCES
Syntax and comprehension
• Simple-”The boy rowed the
boat.”
• Compound-”The boy rowed
the boat while his mother
watched.”
• Complex-”The boy who rowed
the boat waved to his mother.
Dealing with differences in Syntax
• Word order
• Minimum-Distance
Principle
• Analysis of conjoined
clauses
• Passive Voice
• Negation
• Embedding
Morphology and Comprehension
Morphology-how words are
put together from pieces
and how these pieces can
change the meaning of
words OR create new ones.
• Meaning
• Syntactic properties
• Phonological properties
• Relational properties
MEMORY AND
READING
MEMORY
TWO TEMPORARY MEMORIES
IMMEDIATE-holds data for
about 30 seconds;
subconscious
WORKING-conscious;
captures our focus; minutes
to days.
-few items at a time
WORKING MEMORY HELPS
COMPREHENSION
1. Understanding complex
structure; working memory
holds the first part while
the visual cortex
processes the rest.
2. Preserving syntax (word
order)E.g. The driver of the
blue car, not the red car,
honked his horn.
WORKING MEMORY HELPS
COMPREHENSION
• As reading progresses, the
meaning of each sentence
must be held in memory so
they can be associated with
each other to determine
meaning of paragraph
• Working memory must then link
paragraphs together.
• Practice leads to more
comprehension
HET PRINCIPLE
Intelligence is
a function of
experience.
Theory of Temporary and Permanent Memories
Incoming
Information
(from our
senses*)
Immediate
Memory
(seconds)
Working
Memory
(minutes to
days)
* HET: Being There and Pathways to Understanding
Long-Term
Storage
Sites
(years)
HET PRINCIPLE
Learning is a twostep process:
Step One: Making
meaning through
pattern-seeking
HET PRINCIPLE
Step Two:
Developing a mental
program for using
what we understand
and wiring it into
long-term memory
Pattern of Reading
Aa Aa Aa Aa Aa
Aa Aa Aa Aa Aa
Aa Aa Aa Aa Aa
Aa Aa Aa Aa Aa
Aa Aa Aa Aa
Aa Aa Aa Aa
More Patterns of Reading
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Left-to-right
Front to back
Top-to-bottom
Working vs. long-term
memory
Decoding
Morpehemes
Syntax/Comprehnsion
Fluency
There once was a
beautiful bear who sat
on a seat near to
breaking and read by
the hearth about how
the earth was created.
She smiled beautifully, full
of ideas for the realm of
her winter dreams.
There once was a
beautiful bear who
sat on a seat near to
breaking and read by
the hearth about how
the earth was
created. She smiled
beautifully, full of
ideas for the realm of
her winter dreams.
• Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at
Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer
in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are,
the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist
and lsat ltteers be at the rghit pclae.
The rset can be a toatl mses and you
can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is
bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not
raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod
as a wlohe."
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,511177,00.html
IMPORTANCE OF VOCABULARY
“When one realizes that
children have to learn about
88,700 written words during
their school years and that at
least 9,000 of these words
need to be learned by the
end of grade 3, the huge
importance of a child’s
development of vocabulary
becomes crystal-clear.”
Proust and the Squid, Maryanne Wolf, p. 123
Learning Words and Morphemes
Front
Front
• Parents slip into a different
speech pattern
• Studies show that imageladen words produce more
activity in frontal lobe
(visual imagery)
• Abstract words produce
Words
Verbal (Abstract) Words
ERPs Image-Loaded
in parietal/occipital
areas
ERPs (Event-related potentials)
IMPLICATIONS FOR TEACHERS
• Use concrete images when
presenting an abstract or
multi-meaning word.
• justice
STRATEGIES ~ Comprehension
• Comprehension Monitoring
• Using graphic (visual
organizers) and semantic
(spider web) organizers
human
cow
whale
Mammal
dog
cat
sheep
STRATEGIES ~ Comprehension
• Generating/Answering
questions
• Recognizing story structure
• Summarizing
• Mental Imagery (exposure to
technology provides images-students need to
have directions for how to do this)
• Paraphrasing
• THEMING* (when varied classroom
activities center around a theme, students can
more easily comprehend their related readings)
*How the Brain Learns to Read-Sousa, p.101-NIFL, 2001
DEVELOPING CRITICAL READING
STRATEGIES in OLDER STUDENTS
 Previewing
 Contextualizing (own experiences)
 Questioning to Understand
and Remember
 Challenges to Students’
Beliefs and Values
 Evaluating an Argument
 Outlining and Summarizing
 Compare and Contrast
Related Readings
*How the Brain Learns to Read-Sousa, p.106-NIFL, 2001
ESL STUDENTS &
READING
Reading before speaking?
• It is generally
counterproductive to
hasten young nonEnglish-speaking
children into reading
English without
adequate preparation
in speaking English
*How the Brain Learns to Read-Sousa, p.107-108
Speaking Before Reading!!!
• Reading in any
language requires a
solid, mental lexicon
of spoken
vocabulary
• Learning to speak
English should be the
first priority!
Ideal Situation
• Taught to read in native
language first
• If can’t be done, then
learn to speak English FIRST!
• Other option? Bilingual
approach-lesson in native
tongue, then in English
• Cooperative Learning
increases ELL student
achievement
*How the Brain Learns to Read-Sousa, p.107-110, BCIRC-15 steps
Maryanne Wolf
Stanislas Dehaene
David A. Sousa
Article: Dyslexia: http://www.ldonline.org/article/14907/
“I feel certain that if I could read my way
back, analytically, through the books of
my childhood. The clues to everything
could be found. The child lives in the
book; but just as much the book lives in
the child.”
~Elizabeth Bowen~
BASIC BRAIN
INFORMATION
WELCOME
SPOKEN
LANGUAGE
REFLECTION
ELL/ESL
STUDENTS
MEMORY AND
READING
THE READING
PROCESS
WEBINAR GOALS
TO:
• Promote deeper
understanding of reading
process
• Provide strategies to use
with both “traditional”
students and ELL students
NEXT STEPS
• Identify 3 steps you can
take to further your
understanding of the
reading process.
• How will you apply this
information?
• Which strategies will you
try?
• Who would you like to
share this information with?
Schools Exceeding Expectations
“Making a Difference in the World”
Excellence in Education
April 26-28, 2011
Site: Lone Tree, CO
On-Site District: Lone Tree Elementary School
http://schools.dcsdk12.org
Select Lone Tree
Visit: http://www.thecenter4learning.com/html/events/2011/see.htm
“OPEN” Model Teaching Week
• June 18-22, 2011
• OPEN to all
• Inexpensive way for a school
district to introduce model
• Huntington County
Community Schools
Corporation-SEE 2010
• Chuck Grable and Adam
Drummond
http://www.thecenter4learning.com
Choose “Events”, then MTW
HET SUMMER INSTITUTE
• July 15-18, 2012
• All levels of HET model
• Granlibakken Conference
Center, Lake Tahoe, CA
• Appropriate for ALL
educators
• 4 days of interactive
sessions in pristine
environment
• http://www.granlibakken.com/
http://www.thecenter4learning.com Choose “Events”, then Summer Inst.
Sue Pearson
[email protected]
The Center for Effective Learning
www.thecenter4learning.com
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The Brain Learns to Read - The Center for Effective Learning